Steps to Develop a Proposal
How to Develop a Grant Proposal
The time from proposal preparation and submission to award varies dramatically, and can be as long as four to six months. Generally, the process will take longer than expected. If you plan to use the resources of the Grants & Development Department in preparing your competitive grant application, please contact the office early in the process of proposal development.
The extent to which the Grants & Development Department can assist with proposal development and preparation is often determined by the lead-time provided by the grant applicant, so early notice is important.
Assess your capability as a potential awardee on a project: determine whether you have the necessary resources, skills, and staff to perform the work you propose and can support the project appropriately.
Brainstorm educational issues and innovative concepts that would begin addressing the "way it should be" by referring to the needs assessment. Consult colleagues, review the literature, identify the need for the project, and write a short description of the project to help identify appropriate funding sources i.e., state, federal, or foundation.
Determining the most likely funding source takes careful research and preparation. The Grants & Development Department can assist in communicating with the funding agencies, help with obtaining guidelines and applications, and provide support in all phases of proposal development for competitive grants.
Project management success is determined by acquiring the best people to vividly visualize and communicate project goals and objectives, develop team-involved plans, and complete project activities on time and within budget.
The best time to develop a program plan is before the grant is announced. Long-range plans provide the best vehicle for project planning. If you know what the needs are and what you wish to accomplish, when a grant opportunity arises, you will be well prepared to take advantage of the funding resource to accomplish your already existing goals.
Each funding agency has its own set of guidelines for the proposal narrative section. However, there are certain general characteristics that apply to most proposals.
- Conduct a needs assessment to substantiate a justifiable reason for your funding request
- Identify evidence that will support the identified needs i.e., facts, statistics, proof, charts, and tables.
- Match the stated priorities of the funding agency as closely as possible.
- Collaborate with other individuals, agencies, or organizations whenever possible
- Describe how the project will address the needs i.e., define goals, objectives, solution strategies, and teacher and student activities.
- Determine the project timetable and individuals responsible for implementation.
- Clearly describe the ways in which your project is innovative, necessary, timely, and significant.
- Describe the project's management and organization plan e.g., key personnel and qualifications.
- Include, if requested, a current curriculum vitae, and biographical sketches of key personnel.
- Design a project evaluation plan or seek assistance from the district Research and Evaluation Department, external evaluator, or collaborate with an area university.
- Brainstorm ways to sustain the project after the funding period.
- Carefully follow all instructions from the funding agency, including format, page limitations, deadlines, and review criteria.
A proposal budget and line item justification are prepared in conjunction with the proposal narrative. Many agencies have specific budget restrictions and guidelines, as well as forms used with proposal submission.
The Grants & Development Department supplies Fort Worth ISD standard information regarding personnel, administrative costs, support personnel (project development specialist and evaluation specialist), fringe benefits, use of consultants, and equipment. Contact the Department early in the proposal development stage for help in preparing a budget.
The proposed grant budget should:
- Tell the same story as the proposal narrative.
- Contain no unexplained amounts.
- Detail and justify all costs.
- Be sufficient to perform the described activities.
- Use realistic figures based on district standards.
Proposed in-kind contributions and matching funds require the approval of an Associate Superintendent and Chief Financial Officer. Notify these individuals early in the proposal development stage to acquire a pre-approval to continue planning.
Proposals must include a plan for determining the degree to which objectives are met and methods followed. This section is extremely important as funders pay particular attention to evaluation methods since they need help to determine whether a proposed project represents an intelligent investment for them. The evaluation section should:
- Present a plan for evaluating accomplishment of objectives.
- Present a plan for evaluating and modifying the proposed methods over the course of the program.
- Tell who will conduct the evaluation and how they were chosen.
- Clearly state the evaluation criteria and how data will be collected.
- Explain any test instruments or questionnaires to be used.
- Describe the process of data analysis.
- Show how the evaluation will be used to improve the program
- Describe any evaluation reports to be produced.