Impacting someone’s day-to-day life is music to grants coordinator’s ears

Michael McGough plays guitar and sings with a group of men at Living Hope Church during his lunch break.
Michael McGough plays guitar and sings with a group of men at Living Hope Church during his lunch break.

June was a busy month for Michael McGough.

The grants coordinator for the College of Family and Consumer Sciences saw 20 proposals submitted to federal funders, corporations and other organizations.

The monthly total is typically about a third of that number. But the college never wants for grant proposals, averaging 90 to 100 per year and bringing in $13.5 million in funding for the 2017–2018 year. And McGough is the one who makes sure the process goes smoothly.

He helps faculty secure funding for all sorts of projects ranging from a program that helps educate people eligible for SNAP benefits on cooking healthy meals to textile, merchandising and interiors research to find dyes that use less water and are more environmentally friendly than traditional ones.


Michael McGough

Grants Coordinator

  • Office of the Dean
  • College of Family and Consumer Sciences
  • M.A., Nonprofit Organizations, University of Georgia, 2009
  • B.A., Music, Baptist College of Florida, 2000
  • At UGA: 5 ½ years

“The type of work this college does … impacts our everyday lives, whether it’s nutrition, marriage and family relationships, child development or even the clothes that we wear,” he said. “It’s very practical and hands on.”

More than half the funding the college receives is for public service and outreach projects, and those are some of the ones McGough is proudest of due to the impact they have on people’s day-to-day lives. One he’s particularly fond of is Project Free, a support program for foster parents that involves UGA, the state’s Division of Family and Children Services and other partners.

“My part is a very small percentage of it,” he said, “but to have something that is now a multimillion dollar funded project that is impacting real people here in the state and certainly the community—here’s a huge need for foster parents, and we need to have all the support for them that we can—those types of things are the ones that really get me.”

His desire to make a difference in people’s lives coupled with his bachelor’s degree in music drove him to work for the nonprofit Atlanta Opera and then pursue a master’s degree at UGA in nonprofit organizations. During graduate school, McGough wrote a grant proposal for Live Forward, the organization formerly known as AIDS Athens. The nonprofit provides services to those affected by HIV/AIDS. McGough followed that grant proposal with an internship at Nuci’s Space, a local nonprofit that focuses on mental health and serves as a health and resource center for musicians.

Music always has been part of McGough’s life. His mother was a music teacher, and he participated in marching band in high school and college and in his church band today. He’s also in a traveling men’s chorus that will be going on an international tour next year. Even now a guitar stands off to the side in his office in Dawson Hall.

The experience of getting onstage helped him get comfortable with public speaking, a skill with which he tries to help faculty.

“I’m naturally introverted, but being a musician from the time I was 5 years old to now, I’ve been in front of people a lot,” he said “And yes, it’s still terrifying at times, but you get used to it. If you want to get used to being in front of people, you have to get in front of people.”

Although he never pictured himself working at a major research institution, his position at UGA satisfies his sense of curiosity, letting him get involved with a variety of subject matters from nutrition to brain development in infants to the best ways to empower couples to keep their marriages and families strong.

“I knew that Athens was where I wanted to be even before I came to grad school here,” he said. “The type of community that it is, with the arts and the music and university, there’s so much that goes on. I have a lot of confidence that I can still do a lot of good work here for years to come.”