About Our Team

Grant Identification | Writing | Submission | Management | SAM Registry | Federal Procurement | Business Plan Development

 

National Grants Management AssociationThe National Grants Management Association (NGMA) is recognized throughout the grants management industry as the membership association leader providing tools and resources for grants professionals to support and maintain high levels of grants management competency and to establish standards of excellence for grants managers.

Aspire Grant Writing Consultants are members of the NGMA, receiving the latest in education on grant compliance, submission and financial reporting. So, before you hire a firm to write your state or federal grants, ask yourself:

  1. Does the firm specialize in grant writing or something different?
  2. Are they members of the NGMA with graduate level education?
  3. Can the firm cite numerous awards that have been made to a mix of clients, and paid out, with no audit flags?
  4. Does your firm have economic impact software comparable to that used by the state/federal governments? We use IMPLAN Professional, and our studies have been cited by national media.
  5. Can you say that your contractual agreement supports an all-female team who loves to create energy and impact in the communities in which they work?

If not, Aspire to contract with a different type of firm (one that’s making headlines)!

Michele Miller Beener, MS

President, mbeener@aspiregrantdev.com

As you can see, Michele likes to ski and attend (cheer) on the Pittsburgh Pirates, Pittsburgh Penguins and the Pittsburgh Riverhounds (supporting clients).

Michele R. Beener is the President of Aspire Grant & Development, LLC, a full service Federal, State and private grant research/management company. Aspire is a nationally certified diverse vendor, accredited by the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council. Additionally, the firm is a certified Women Owned Small Business, consistent with guidelines from the United State Business Administration.

When starting Aspire, Michele noted a trend – fewer and fewer projects were competing for public grant funds. Why? Arguably, with the loss of traditional “earmarks” federal and state monies were allocated to agencies. Only a true grant writer, with agency review experience, can understand how to write in the top 5%, which is required. Raised with a father as a business partner, Michele took a risk, leaving a comfortable and incredibly rewarding senior position with Somerset Hospital to form Aspire. Now four years later, she’s proud to have nearly forty clients across the Appalachian Region and employ a group of highly educated, strong grant professionals. So, whether you choose Aspire or another firm, inquire as to the number of grants and the success rate of the firm in overall wins. You may be surprised!

Unlike traditional government affairs firms who may claim to offer grant writing services, all Aspire employees are members of the National Grants Management Association, NGMA, and are trained grant writers with a strong record of success. The National Grants Management Association, formerly the National Assistance Management Association, is a professional association, based in Washington D.C., dedicated to the profession of grants management.

Michele specializes in business plan writing and development for nonprofit firms and public/private partnerships. Aspire uses IMPLAN modeling to develop a compelling economic impact model for each proposal. In 2017, Michele’s study on the Acosta Mine, the first new coal mine to open under President Trump, received a $3 million economic development grant, opening to employ nearly 90 individuals. The groundbreaking event was attended by President Trump (via video message) and Governor Tom Wolf.

Michele earned a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration from Waynesburg University and a Master of Science in Business Ethics from Duquesne University. Ironically, she is proud to be the grant writing professional for Waynesburg University, where both she and daughter Ashley attended undergrad. She is also happy to serve the United States Health Resources and Services Administration as a registered Federal Grant Reviewer. She’s written over 120 grant applications, with over 75% resulting in an award.

Over the past ten years, Michele has served various nonprofit boards, including Past President of the Somerset County Chamber of Commerce, Children’s Aid Home of Somerset County, and the Rotary Club of Somerset. In 2007, Beener was honored by the YWCA of Greater Johnstown’s Tribute to Women Award Program as Educator of the Year. In 2014, she was honored by the Boy Scouts of America, Penn’s Woods Council, with their annual “Salute to Women” award. She enjoys raising funds for the benefit of local community organizations and serves on both the Board of Directors and the Somerset County Distribution Committee for the Community Foundation for the Alleghenies. Michele operates a 300-acre beef farm in the Laurel Highlands of Pennsylvania, selling locally grown products to Highlands Market, Seven Springs Mountain Resort. She is also the Vice President of Miller Antique and Restoration, LLC, a national leader in the preservation of steam railroad and farm equipment. She is a proud member of the "Ladies of Steam” community (check it out on Facebook and you can see her Gaar Scott).  Michele enjoys the arts and is also a member of the Board of Directors for the Mountain Playhouse, a historic summer equity theatre program located in Jennerstown, Pennsylvania. In August of 2017, Michele was nominated for the Athena Award of Greater Pittsburgh, a prestigious nomination for women who support other women and community projects.

 

Catherine M. Quinn, M.A., Grant Associate, Notary Public

Catherine has lived and worked in Somerset County her entire life. After graduating from Frostburg State University with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Law and Society, Catherine worked as a paralegal for the law firm of Barbera, Clapper, Beener, Rullo & Melvin. While working at the law firm, Catherine attended online classes through California University of Pennsylvania and she obtained her Master of Arts Degree in Applied Criminology. From there, Catherine went on to pursue a job in social services and became a caseworker for Somerset County Children & Youth Services.

Throughout her academic and professional career, Catherine has become active in several organizations. These include the BACCHUS National Peer Education Network, Pi Sigma Alpha, and the Pennsylvania Association of Notaries. Contact Catherine for assistance with federal, state or private grants to fuels projects in the areas of youth advocacy, social and human service, and criminal justice. She is also available as a Notary Public. cquinn@aspiregrantdev.com

Brooke L. Sheeler, M.S., Senior Grant Associate

Brooke joined the Aspire team in 2015 as an intern while pursuing her undergraduate degree at Slippery Rock University. After graduating with a B.S. in Communications – Public Relations, Brooke came back to Aspire full time and received her M.S. in Integrated Marketing & Communications from West Virginia University in 2018. She has now been promoted to Senior Grant Associate and has taken on a direct role with managing accounts. Some of her main accounts include: The Pittsburgh Penguins Foundation, LCT Energy, Laurel Arts, Adventures in Training with a Purpose, and more. To date, her application awards have totaled over $3 million in state and private funding.

In her spare time, Brooke enjoys hanging out with her rescue dog Tito while having animal welfare at the top of her priority list. She is an avid Pittsburgh sports fan and will never turn down the chance to watch the Pirates, Penguins, and Steelers. To talk to Brooke about your next project, you can email her at bsheeler@aspiregrantdev.com or call her direct line at 814-701-2684.

 

Sarah E. Russell, Office Manager

Sarah has recently returned to the Somerset County area after a seven-year hiatus. She is originally from the Gettysburg area. She holds an associates degree in Graphic Design and Printing Technologies from Thaddeus Stevens College of Technology. She also has a bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Central Pennsylvania College. After graduation she took an internship at the Greater Johnstown Career and Technology Center. Upon completion of the internship she worked as a typist for Sargent’s Court Reporting in Johnstown. From there she returned to Gettysburg to work as a Review Technical Associate for SRA International, Inc. in Frederick, MD, an IT company. SRA is a subcontractor who does grant work for the government and educational systems. She then went on to work as a Travel and Entertainment Administrator with Voith Holding Inc. in York, PA a German engineering company.

Her knowledge of Microsoft Office, Graphic Design, grant compliance, and office dynamics will be a great asset to Aspire Grant & Development Partners. In her spare, time Sarah enjoys spending time with her new husband and traveling to new areas. She’s also been volunteering with the Shade Creek Watershed Association and Graef’s Lutheran Church. Please contact Sarah at 814-701-2768 for all scheduling purposes or email Sarah at srussell@aspiregrantdev.com.

 

Kelly M. Sheridan, Grant Associate

Kelly Sheridan is a mission-oriented Grant Associate at Aspire Grant & Development Partners who resides in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Prior to working at Aspire, Kelly was a Community Relations Intern for the Pittsburgh Penguins Foundation where she assisted with the collaboration and design of marketing and fundraising tools such as the promotion of the annual Penguins Charity Night on AT&T SportsNet, which raised over $2 million. Currently, Kelly stays involved with their program as a Game Day Silent Auction Manager to help raise funds for local youth and education initiatives.

Kelly graduated from Slippery Rock University in May of 2018 with undergraduate degrees in Philanthropy and Nonprofit Management (Concentrations: Art and Sociology) and Special Education Transition Programming. She has an extensive background in volunteerism and advocacy for individuals with disabilities in the areas of public policy, education, job skills, independent living skills, nutrition and physical activity. As a board member on SRU’s Student Nonprofit Alliance, she has led several initiatives on campus including IZE on Addiction, Focus on Homelessness Panel and a campus-wide hurricane relief campaign. Kelly was also the Vice President and Captain of SRU Women’s Ice Hockey. Kelly is passionate about community development, social inclusion, the arts, adapted physical activity and the advancement of ice hockey at all levels.

Email Kelly at ksheridan@aspiregrantdev.com.

Ashley G. Beener, Grant Associate

 

In November of 2016, Ms. Ashley Beener joined the Aspire team after employment as a Field Representative for United States Congressman Bill Shuster. Ms. Beener develops competitive grant proposals at the private, state, and federal level. She has experience working with a range of non-profit projects involving environmentally friendly initiatives, fire departments, the Arts, and community centers. Ms. Beener has experience and success across the following funding sources: Pennsylvania Rural Arts Alliance, the Laurel Highlands Tourism Grants, the Community Foundation for the Alleghenies, PA Volunteer Fire Assistance Grant, FEMA, Firehouse Subs, Gaming and Economic Development Funds, Multimodal projects, the Mellon Foundation, the Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program, Department of Conservation and Natural Resources, and the U.S. Soccer Foundation. Recent awards include a $500,000 grant from the R.K. Mellon Foundation towards expansion of Twin Lakes Center for Drug & Alcohol’s rehabilitation and detox services. Ms. Beener also specializes in applications to the Redevelopment Assistance Capital Program with 2017 round $1 million awards for two economic development projects in Allegheny and Fayette Counties. Ms. Beener received her undergraduate degree in History and Political Science from Waynesburg University and is currently furthering her education at Widener Commonwealth Law, expecting to receive her Juris Doctorate in 2021. To start your next project, feel free to contact her at abeener@aspiregrantdev.com.

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