Grant Proposal Writing
In Session 5, we will discuss facilities, project management, the annual work plan, and the evaluation plan.
EDIT AND EVALUATE AS YOU GO
As you develop your proposal, be ask someone else to read your work. Ask if there are aspects of your presentation that are unclear or confusing. Check to be sure you have translated any acronyms and explained any unique jargon. Be sure that you have not used terminology that only a select few will understand. Keep in mind that a reviewer does not always read a proposal from the beginning, so it is imperative that each section be a model of clarity.
Although this is not always a required part of most grant proposals, the granting agency may be understandingly curious about your institution's existing facilities. Grants usually do not provide funds for capital outlay, building, or remodeling. If they do, you may be asked to list such things as relevant computer facilities, vocational assessment services, equipment, testing or research data, and advantageous building layouts. If the project is to begin immediately upon approval, state the availability of the necessary space and equipment.
One agency asked me to provide a map of our campus and a layout of the rooms where my project would take place. The campus building department gladly furnished me with an architectural rendering of the cmapus buildings.
When I wrote another proposal for some child care facilities, I became very familiar with the specific needs for young children: little toilets, refrigerators, reachable drinking fountains, and enclosed play areas. Certain items were not available, so I mentioned an agreement I had made with a nearby university. This university offered a course in designing outdoor playgrounds, and they were interested in working with me if I obtained the grant. Community-based, cooperative projects impress grantors and benefit the participants in many practical ways.
List everyone who has consented to take part in your project. Place particular emphasis on WHY the project "driver" (Project Director) is qualified to guide the project.
Do not list people without their permission. Using a person's name without his or her consent sheds unfavorable light on you and your project. Do not assume that administrators will participate in your plan. Consider the following experience.
Recently, an auditor checked the time spent by each person involved in a specific grant. One administrator was active in several grants because she had generously allowed her time to be allotted as "in kind" (matching) or donated time. She said that 10 percent of her time was spent with Grant A, 10 percent with Grant B, and so on. Remember that she was not getting paid by the grant, but was offering her work time as a contribution to the bank of matching or "in kind" resources. When the auditor summed her gratis contributions, they exceeded 100 percent of her actual work time. Don't let this happen to you!
If your project must get underway right after the review process is complete, keep an up-to-date participant roster handly. This list displays your organized readiness and gives your project the crucial flexibility it will need if it gets funded at the last minute.
Start gathering resumes from your busy colleagues at the first stages of writing the proposal and be as persistent as necessary. Often folks who have worked in the same job for many years are uncomfortable writing resumes and need a bit of nudging.
Some RFPs (Requests for Proposals) forbid you to include resumes. Others, however, want them to be placed in the Appendix (remember that items in the Appendix are usually not part of the total page count). A quick paragraph about the quality and experiene of the personnel can be written into the text.
Make sure that when you use a resume, it does not indicate the person's participation in a project that too closely resembles yours. The granting agency is not in the business of funding existing projects even though your intent is to seek new funds rather than continuation funding.
Create an organizational chart for your proposal that is not a mirror image of the one designed for the management of your institution. Identify the key grant players and establish the interrelation of their roles. You might even place yourself at the top as the Project Manager. Show how advisory committees and community agencies interact. Replace the participants' job titles with their grant functions. Construct a chart using boxes, lines, and arrows to illustrate how your proposal's hierarchy interconnects. Here are some possible considerations.
At the top: Board of Trustees of the Community College District
Next: President of the College
Next: Project Director (you?)
To one side: Advisory Committee with a direct line to the Project Director
To the other side: Clerical staff
Below the Project Director: Key project personnel
Continue in this way to show all grant personnel and their functions. Here is an organizational chart that shows the Project Director in the hub of the activity. Your chart needs to show exactly the relationship of all the key players.
The Annual Work Plan (also known as Projected Timeline or Time Schedule) is another indication of the feasibility of your project. Often, a reviewer who is initially unclear about the flow of the procedures section turns to the time schedule to determine the exact sequence of the proposed activities. To avoid confusion and a poor review, the time schedule must be absolutely consistent with the preceding material.
CREATE A TIMELINE
After writing your objectives sequentially, writing the timeline may seem like deja vu. Actually, if you have well written objectives, it should seem that way. Nevertheless, it is essential to the success of your proposal to create an Annual Work Plan.
Many RFPs have charts for you to follow. If not, devise a simple table in your word processing program with 14 columns. You can also have the same results using a work sheet from a program like Excel. The first column is narrow and contains only the numbers of the objectives and the numbers of their respective activities (3.0, 3.1, 3.2, 3.3, etc.) The second column is wide and contains an abbreviated list of the abjectives and activities. The follow 12 (very narrow) columns are for the 12 months of the year.
Decide where your year will begin and end. If you follow the school year or fiscal year you may want to begin with July and end with June. Federal grants are frequently funded from October 1 through September 30. Since I generally follow the school year, each of my 12 "month" columns has a letter at the top which indicates the month: J A S O N D J F M A M J.
I fill in the cells of the table with a gray color to indicate ongoing work on each objective or activity during that time. Since my objectives are written in a sequential manner, my timeline usually begins with gray cells filled in on the left, and the gray cells flow to the right (or end of the year) by the bottom of the list.
I may have a plan that includes the following items:
OBJECTIVE 3: To recruit 4 faculty members and 4 interns
ACTIVITY 3.1: Contacts with nearby universities (S&O boxes to be in gray, indicating that Septemer and October will e this activity's designated months)
ACTIVITY 3.2: Invitations to business, industries, and government installations (S, O, & N boxes gray)
ACTIVITY 3.3: Recruit students assistants (S, O, & N boxes gray)
ACTIVITY 3.4: An application will be designed (O & N boxes gray)
ACTIVITY 3.5: Marketing effort for mentors (O & N boxes gray)
ACTIVITY 3.6: Screen and interview mentors and interns (N & D boxes gray)
Note how I have abbreviated the actual items which is helpful if space is crucial. Do you see how clear your plan will be to a reviewer with the advantage of actually seeing your timeline?
The evaluation asks the following all-important question: How will you determine your success in meeting your goals? This section will be a breeze because you have already written concise, measurable, and quantifiable objectives.
There are two components of the evaluation plan (these can be subtitled under the evaluation section of your proposal).
(1) FORMATIVE EVALUATION: Formative evaluation addresses each of the evaluation criteria (commitments) that you identifed previously in the objectives section. The formative part of the evauation is the continual assessment of ONGOING objectives and activities. It is the chronological PROGRESSION of the project.
(2) SUMMATIVE EVALUATION: Summative evaluation addresses the project's OVERALL goal. It evaluates the final results or products of your plan. It is the bottom line answer to the question, "Did you accomplish what you set out to do?"
FORMATIVE EVALUATION BENCHMARKS
Identify key benchmarks in each of your objectives that can easiy measure your progress. Here are some of the objectives we formulated earlier with a relatively easy to use evaluation benchmark or tool.
(1) To develop a marketing plan to advertise the seven after-school activities to teenagers in three junior high schools and one high school by May 30.
BENCHMARK: The marketing plan is completed and on file with Project Director.
(2) To hire activity coordinators for each of the seven after-school activities by September 1.
BENCHMARK: A personnel file is established in Human Resource Department on seven new employees.
(3) To meet at least five times with a ten-member advisory commitee (minimum of 4 adults and 6 teenagers) prior to May 30.
BENCHMARK: Minutes of each meeting are on file with the Project Director.
Remind yourself of the formative evaluation section's standards of logic and clarity when you write your objectives. Later, your well-conceived benchmarks will give eloquent testimony of your success to the granting agency. You will be able to write your Quarterly Reports to the granting agency and say, "According to our calendar, we are right on target. We have successfull completed each of our objectives on schedule."
A TYPICAL ERROR
Although a long-term evaluation plan is a valid way to measure a project's success, it is not a very realistic approach. It is wiser to formulate a realistic evaluation plan that will reach completion BEFORE the funds run out. Someone may suggest a follow-up impact survey, but it is doubtful that this person will be as eager when the funds are gone and everyone has gon on to other projects. Encourage your colleagues to design a summative evaluation that fits into the grant's time frame.
The grantor justifiably wants to know how successful you have been at accomplishing your overall goal. The summative evaluation measures and defines the completion of your project even though its full impact may not be felt for a couple of years. (If this is the case, write a textual reference to that effect.) Think of creative ways to verify your project's OVERALL success. One idea is to have your advisory committee perform the evaluation at the last meeting of the grant term.
Here is another example:
I conducted a Distance Learning Institute where I developed a pre-test and a post-test for faculty anxiety. These tests were exactly the same tests. At the first meeting I gave the pre-test to the faculty asking them what level of preparation they felt was necessary for the various televised procedurs they would experience during the Institute. A Likert-type scale was used to measure their level of anxiety. A statement was made followed by a bar with five point on it. At the left was "strongly disagree," followed by "disagree," "no opinion," "agree," and finally, "strongly agree." I developed a chart to summarize their responses. At the conclusion of the Institute I repeated the pre-test. I compared the results and used this data to measure how effectively the Institute had achieved its goal of preparing faculty to utilize distance learning technology.
|CATE: Computer-Assisted Teaching Environment
Distance Education office at Santa Rosa Junior College, Santa Rosa, CA USA
Last updated: 19:00 on 1 March 2005
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