Grant Guru Tip #5 by Gary Carnow: Major Components of a Proposal

Tip #5 is as close to a grantseeker’s template that I can produce. In some rare instances, a grant request for proposal (RFP) does not outline what is required in the narrative of a proposal. Instead, it may just say something like, “not to exceed 20 pages, double spaced, 12 point font, 1 inch margins.” In cases like these, the grantseeker’s template will assist you. Some RFPs on the other hand, are very detailed and may be close to a hundred pages of exact directions to follow and forms to fill out. In either case, most RFP’s use a format similar to the template. The template includes the various sections of a grant proposal followed by directions for you to follow. Answer the questions, and you have a grant proposal.

The Grantseeker’s Template
Tip #5 will introduce you to the template. Future tips will describe each section in greater detail. This tip will provide you with an outline to follow.

Title Page
Most grants have a specific format or form to use as the title page. This page usually contains your organization’s name and various contact information details. My best tip is to follow the direction in the RFP and sign the original signature copies of the title page in blue ink.

Abstracts are often asked for because they serve as summaries of the grant proposal. Your funder may want to announce your grant with a press release. The abstract makes it easy for the funder to concisely describe your funded proposal. Abstracts are often asked for in conjunction with narratives greater than twenty or so pages. Rarely are abstracts asked for in two page proposals, however a summary paragraph is sometimes asked for.

The abstract usually includes the project’s title, the need, objectives, methodology or procedures, resources, personnel, facilities, uniqueness and a brief budget overview. All of this is usually less than one page. My best tip is to always follow the directions in the RFP. Write this part last. Consider this your “elevator” speech, you have less than a minute to capture your reader’s interest and sell your proposal.

Here are some questions to consider:
1. Who is submitting the proposal and to whom are you submitting?
2. What is it? State the title of your proposal and give a brief description of the proposed project.
3. Who will benefit when your proposal is funded?
4. Why fund this project?
5. What is the need?
6. What are the project objectives?
7. How are you going to do it?
8. Describe the major activities.
9. How much will it cost?
10. Give a general budget breakdown.

All of this, and in less than a page! Hints: Keep it short, simple and be precise.

Introduction to the Proposal
This is your general overview and often presents a clear and concise narrative that describes the program proposal. Emphasize that this project is important and will be more effective than present or past programs. For example, you may wish to indicate that the project is aimed at filling the gap between what is and what should be. Additionally, show how the project is an extension of important research or development projects carried out by this writer or others.

Assessment of Needs
The needs assessment forms the justification for the development of a program. Needs data could include educational records, test scores, observational studies, surveys, attendance records, and/or attitudinal surveys.

Goals and Objectives
The needs should be used to formulate the general program goals and specific objectives. Goals are statements of what you view as the ideal state of affairs.
Limit the number of goals and rank in order of importance.

Your objectives represent strategies for eliminating the discrepancies, which exist between actual conditions, and what is desired. Who is the target group of the project? What will the target group be doing or receiving? How long will they be doing or receiving? What will be the result? How will you know (measure) the result?

The grant activities are the solution procedures that describe how your plan will achieve your stated objectives. Develop your solution procedures in a clear and concise manner. Describe the instructional strategies that will be used and enumerate the innovative curriculum materials that will be developed. Focus on your staff development procedures, plans for community involvement, and/or parent participation. Elaborate on the creative, innovative aspects of the program. Be sure to indicate a timeline (event schedule) that shows when the major activities will take place.

Personnel, Facilities, and Budget
Personnel and facilities are often covered in the narrative and again you will refer to the RFP for guidance. The budget often is created on specific forms provided to the writer in the RFP and a “budget narrative” is usually included in the body of the proposal. The budget narrative gives an overview and detail to your line item budget. Although this seems strange to some people, I always work from my general idea and start with the budget. This helps me outline and plan for my program. Some points to consider when putting your budget together include the salaries and other stipends paid to project personnel and any fringe benefits associated with these personnel. Describe and cost the materials required to implement your program, fund preservice/inservice activities and pay for any outside consultants if needed. What costs are associated with your project evaluation? Will you be purchasing any equipment? Does your agency charge any indirect costs?

The evaluation is your description of the method to be used for evaluating the success of the project (or the product you create) and how you plan to document the implementation of the proposed design (the process). A process evaluation monitors and provides a continual flow of information regarding procedural design and program implementation. A product evaluation is keyed to the project objectives. The purpose of this system is to determine the degree to which objectives have been achieved and often include:
1. The methods and procedures to be used to evaluate all project components.
2. An indication of how the evaluation feedback information will be used to improve the program.
3. An identification of the instruments to be used in the evaluation of the program.
4. An identification of the persons responsible for the program evaluation (project employee, district employee, and/or independent contractor).

This sums up our grantseeker’s template. See if you can find any requests for proposals on the web and determine if the RFP follows a similar format.

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.