Katie LeDoux can see the meaningful fruits of her team’s labor when she strolls through a beautified downtown Omaha, when she visits a south Omaha boxing club, or a store for foster kids to shop for free clothes. Since launching her Sunflower Grant Writers firm in 2020, LeDoux has helped secure over $1 million in grants for all types of organizations—small and large, nonprofit and for profit—with worthwhile wish lists that include arts programs for kids, city development, and health care expansion.
“It’s so rewarding,” said LeDoux, who moved to Omaha in 2017 and has made hundreds of business connections since then. “So many people that we work with have these incredible ideas and passions for what they want to do to make the world a better place. It’s an incredible feeling to tap into what they’re doing and be a small part of the good they’re accomplishing. Sometimes I feel like I won the lottery to get to do what I do.”
LeDoux brought the perfect background to Omaha to launch Sunflower. She picked up research, writing, ethics, and leadership as part of her course work as an art history and public policy major in college. Then she honed those skills through 18 years of experience in Washington, D.C. at the Smithsonian American Art Museum and the Kennedy Center. While at those world-renown organizations, LeDoux routinely pursued grants for programs and public art projects. “Those experiences prepared me well,” LeDoux said. “We had to write our own grants to sustain programs we created, and that’s how I got my start. I learned so much about researching sources and tapping into what foundations are looking for.”
LeDoux turned that knowledge into a company that sets itself apart in the industry by employing a full-time researcher who aligns a grant need with funding sources that are a perfect fit. Sunflower also handles annual reporting of results to grant sources through statistics, photos, and compelling stories of a grant’s impact. Sunflower’s administrator also regularly follows up with grant sources to keep a client’s application top of mind. “We’ve had clients tell us, ‘We feel like you’re part of our full-time staff,’” said LeDoux, who noted the wide-open generosity she’s found in Omaha. “That’s how well we get to know the people we work with and get to know their organization and what they’re all about. It’s a very empathetic and passionate team, and they care deeply about the groups we work with and their causes.”
Even the company’s name is meant to communicate something significant for groups seeking grants to support their mission. LeDoux loves sunflowers in general, but that type of flower has a unique characteristic that grabbed her: When sunflowers can’t find the sun, they turn and face each other until they are able to gain access to the sun’s rays. She explained, “We want to be the group that nonprofits and others can turn to when they need assistance to get back to the sun.”