Successful Grant Proposals

by Ami Hicks

The March 11 Peer Coaching and Mentoring Network meeting was hosted by Jim Oberg and Sandy Brown of Schaumburg District 54. The focus of the meeting was on grants, how to locate sources of funding, how to write a grant, and the responsibilities of the grant writer. An excellent presentation was given by Colleen Sehy, Director of Grants and Research at Illinois Benedictine College, Lisle, IL.
School districts are experiencing cutbacks in budgets and too often excellent programs in mentoring and peer coaching may be eliminated because of a lack of funds. Consider a grant to help fund your program.Grant sources include the Foundation Directory and Dialogue software which may be found at the library. Journals can provide information on who is getting money and for what project.
 
Corporations can be another source of revenue. The Donors Forum of Chicago Library is a regional association of grantmakers providing programs and funding research. For information on the Donors Forum Library, call 312-431-0264.
Grant Proposals take on many forms from a letter of inquiry which can be sent to a potential lending source to an entire proposal with budgets and resumes. Colleen provided the network with excellent tips on how to make grant
proposals stand out.
 
Here are just a few:
1. Follow the rules of the grant exactly and note any deadline dates. Your project must fit the funder's interest.
2. Program personnel must have experience in the task requesting money. It is important to show evidence of why a funder should have confidence in the project. Resumes of personnel involved in the project should be included.
3. Proposals should be one to two pages in length.
4. Clarity in proposal writing is critical. Carefully define the problem, goals, objectives, and possible outcomes from the project that is being proposed.
5. Demonstrate a clear understanding of what others are doing in the area that is to be funded. Funders want to support innovations and projects that could be a model for future projects.
 
Funders often provide a format to follow, however; if not given, the Office of Sponsored Research Services of Indiana University, Bloomington suggested elements that should be included in successful proposals. Following is a brief listing of these:

Cover
Include grantor's name (and any program name or number), applicant organization, submittal date, project title, proposed project period, amount requested, project director's name and signature, and name and signature of the organization's authorized representative.

Table of Contents
It is helpful to include one unless the proposal is very short. Include major proposal sections.

Abstract (also called Project Summary)
Briefly state the problem, significance, objectives, method, and anticipated outcome.

Project Description (also called Narrative or Research Plan)
Bibliography
If the grantor wants just the literature cited, do not include a full bibliography.

Budget
This should be presented in a cost sheet format.

Budget Explanation (also called Budget Justification). Arrange this by budget categories.

Vita
Include vitae for the project director and key personnel.

Other Support
Indicate key personnel's current and pending funding for this and other work.

Appendices
Possible appendices are: vitae, facilities description, letters of support, illustrations, extensive bibliography, or anything which is not included in the body of the proposal. Some grants do not allow appendices.

Ms. Sehy's presentation created enthusiasm and optimism in the Committee participants for writing grant proposals. Listed below is a funder you might want to contact.

The Charles Steward Mott Foundation invites proposals for educational grants in eight areas:
There is no deadline. Call 313-238-5651 for more information.