Grant Guru Tip #4 by Gary Carnow: What is a Grant Proposal?

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In this week’s tip, you will begin to see what makes up a grant proposal and next week I will provide you with a grantseeker’s template. Writing a grant is remarkably simple and can actually be a lot of fun. Grants that are well written, focused, and organized have a great chance at being funded. So much about grantwriting may seem mysterious to those who are just starting out. Think of the grantseeking process as a jigsaw puzzle. To get to the whole you have to put together the parts. Writing a grant is very structured. A grant is more like a newspaper article than a short story. A well-written grant answers a series of who, what, when, where, why, and so-what kinds of questions.Creating a Swiss Cheese Proposal

As you begin your grant writing process there are several ways to get started. The first document you want to read is the grant proposal. This is commonly called the RFP (request for proposal). Some funders call this an RFA (request for application). RFP’s and RFA’s are acronyms for the same thing. These documents (especially state and federal RFP’s) are very detailed and may be fifty pages long or longer. Don’t let this scare you. It often takes many more pages to describe how to write something than it is to actually write it.

The grant RFP/RFA will spell out for the grant writer what they will need to do to apply for the grant. A good practice is to make several copies of this document and find a quiet, undisturbed time to absorb the materials. It is often helpful to use a highlighter and mark the “action sentences” – those with specific instructions. Some grant writers like to keep their work in a notebook, creating a “swiss cheese proposal.” For example, let’s say the grant application asks for a title page, a needs statement, grant activities, an evaluation plan, and a budget form. Create a tab for each section and as you complete the proposal, your notebook is filled with the missing information.

The second document that is often contained in the RFP is a scoring rubric. Knowing how a grant will be scored helps you prepare a better proposal. The rubric, together with the RFP, becomes your writing guide. As you create various sections of the proposal, you will be able to self-assess how you are doing. The scoring rubric helps you gain insight on how to write the proposal. For example, if the RFP states that the grant shall be no longer than 10 pages and that 30 percent of the proposal will be judged on your evaluation plan, this will help you plan out your writing. In this sample case, because 30 percent of your final score will be attributed to the evaluation plan, you are safe to assume the evaluation plan should contain 30 percent of the total number of pages (3 pages).A Grantseeker’s Template

Most grantseekers want a template for writing a grant proposal. For obvious reasons, the perfect template does not exist. Most of the answers to your questions on how to structure your proposal can be found in the RFP. Some grants may not give the writer a complete RFP with highly specific guidelines. In this case, next week’s standard grant “template” is one that you may wish to use.

Think About and Post

What are the three things you would like to learn about writing successful proposals to fund technology projects? Please post what you would like to learn.

Dr. Gary A. Carnow serves as the Director of Technology and Information Services for the Alhambra Unified School District. Dr. Carnow is the co-author of two software products published by Knowledge Adventure. He is also the co-author of three books, Prolific Thinkers (1986, Dale Seymour Publications), Software-in-a-Book: The Cruncher (2001, Teacher Created Materials), and Software-in-a-Book: KidWorks Deluxe (2001, Teacher Created Materials). He has authored numerous publications and learning resources for Apple, IBM, Scholastic, and others.