Fund 17: Turning Hustles into Livelihoods

Changemaker Catalyst Award recipient, Avery Anderson, served as the Grant Writing Intern during Summer 2021 for Fund 17, a local nonprofit working to make entrepreneurship accessible for all. Avery is a senior Class of 2022, double majoring in English and Communications.

Founded in 2012, Fund 17 is a 501(c)(3) designated nonprofit that makes entrepreneurship accessible for underrepresented entrepreneurs throughout New Orleans. Though it began as a student-run nonprofit, Fund 17 now provides everything from advising sessions to micro-loans. Whether they’re managing the community business incubator or restocking supplies in the communal workspace, Fund 17 and its dedicated staff prioritize entrepreneurs who are often excluded from conventional business incubation and economic development strategies. With an eye towards economic justice, Fund 17 assists entrepreneurs of color, low-income entrepreneurs, and native New Orleanians in growing their businesses and accessing funding.

Fund 17’s logo

I spent Summer 2021 interning as a grant writing intern for Fund 17. As a nonprofit, Fund 17’s day-to-day operations and entrepreneurial advancement programs are funded by grants from both local and national organizations, and securing this capital is the primary job of a grant writer. As a grant writing intern, I worked with Fund 17’s executive director and contracted grant writer to facilitate grant applications, research and upkeep the grant database, and assist in financial planning and budgeting, all of which help the organization attain and maintain the funds necessary for operation.

Working from home


My official email signature

As a budding grant writer and ambassador for Fund 17, I also attended workshops with The Funding Seed, a local organization that helps people learn how to raise money for their nonprofits. By sitting in on both the Grantwriting for Beginners and Intermediate Grantwriting workshops, I learned how to make a compelling case to someone unfamiliar with my nonprofit’s work.  This helped me understand why successful grant writing relies so heavily on effective storytelling, and I was subsequently able to apply skills I learned in my creative writing classes to real-world issues. 

Grantwriting for Beginners certification from The Funding Seed
Intermediate Grantwriting certification from The Funding Seed


My time with Fund 17 showed me how social change can occur in the economic sector, prompting me to reevaluate my understanding of social advocacy and empowerment. Prior to my work with Fund 17, I had a more narrow conception of activism centered around traditional political campaigning and protesting. But as I worked closely with the data and entrepreneur testimonies, I began to reinterpret economic justice as a cornerstone of social justice. By equipping entrepreneurs with an arsenal of skills and resources, Fund 17 directly challenges economic inequality in New Orleans. This transition from informal labor into sustainable livelihood is empowering and fiscally liberating, giving hardworking individuals the tools necessary to succeed and thrive. As a grant writing intern I was implicated in this process, and this direct involvement in the acquisition and redistribution of resources and capital helped me see firsthand how economic justice can better the New Orleans community.