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Grantwriting  Keystones
 

Grantwriting Keystones

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Introduction to Grantwriting

Introduction to Grantwriting

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    Grantwriting  Keystones Grantwriting Keystones Presentation Transcript

    • Grant Writing Strategies and Resources Tracy Smith [email_address]
    • What is a Grant? A PARTNERSHIP They’re investing in your vision of a better community. How will you add value to their money? How will you further their goals?
    • Grant Writing: A Low Probability Game?
      • Proposal success rates average 25 to 33 percent
      More than half are rejected on first reading because: - Applicant did not follow directions - Proposal did not match program
    • The Critics Weigh In… “ The problem statement, such as it is, is too global, showing no relationship to reality with no potential solution being indicated or even possible.” “ This problem has been studied to death. I’m surprised the writer doesn’t know this.” “ It is almost impossible to understand what the author wants to study or what the main theme is. The problem is full of jargon and totally unclear as stated.” “ I cannot ascertain what approach the researcher will take in examining the problem as outlined.” The writer has a flair for the dramatic. The world will not collapse if we do not fund a study of students’ daydreams.” (Actual comments made by actual reviewers)
    • The Critics Weigh In… “ The problem statement, such as it is, is too global, showing no relationship to reality with no potential solution being indicated or even possible.” (too vague) “ This problem has been studied to death. I’m surprised the writer doesn’t know this.” (too common) “ It is almost impossible to understand what the author wants to study or what the main theme is. The problem is full of jargon and totally unclear as stated.” (poorly communicated) “ I cannot ascertain what approach the researcher will take in examining the problem as outlined.” (plan is too vague) The writer has a flair for the dramatic. The world will not collapse if we do not fund a study of students’ daydreams.” (too much hyperbole) (Actual comments made by actual reviewers)
    • Pitfalls Success = Good Ideas - Pitfalls
      • There is plenty of evidence to show that good ideas are often undermined by missteps in proposal preparation
      • The following are some common proposal pitfalls and strategies to avoid them
    • A Starting Point... What are you passionate about? What is the problem (and why is it important)? How is existing knowledge or practice inadequate? Why is your idea better? How is it new, unique, different? What will it contribute and who will benefit from it?
    • Develop your funding search skills Study program goals and eligibility Make contact with program officer before starting proposal! - Read program announcement carefully; note questions - Send brief (2-3 short paragraphs) overview of proposed project - Inquire about alternative funding sources 1. Verify the match ? ! Pitfall 1: Poor fit
    • Summary Introduction Problem Statement or Needs Statement Project Objectives Methods (Specific Activities + Timelines) ------------------------------------------------------------------- Evaluation Plan Budget (Summary + Justifications) Future Funding & Sustainability) Appendix Everything Else 2. Structure the Proposal Pitfall 2: Poor organization Build your case by assembling proposal in distinct sections:
    • State your purpose and case for need up front; build a strong argument Think “Op Ed,” not academic journal; the person who tells the most compelling story will usually get the grant Cite authoritative source(s) 3. Prove the importance of your project Pitfall 3: Weak argument
    • Be creative . . .
      • Tell the story with passion
      “ To me, a proposal is a story. You speak to the reader and tell the reader a story, something you want him/her to visualize, hear, feel. It should have dimension, shape and rhythm, and yes, it should “sing.” — Carol Robinson, former executive director of the Isaac H. Tuttle Fund
    • 4. Assume an uninformed but intelligent reader
      • Use clear, accessible language
      • Stick with direct statements and active voice
      • Avoid insider jargon and acronyms
      • Grammar and spelling are important
      Pitfall 4: Gyrating jargon “ An expanding awareness of the limitations of our training settings, the political fallout of our training mission, the consequence of having therapists work in a particular work setting, and the need to change established institutional structures (e. g., child protective services, Aid to Families with Dependent Children, juvenile court) are examples of the contextualization of training and supervision.”
    • Passive vs. Active Voice
      • It has been demonstrated by research that…
      • The SAP program is being implemented by our department…
      • Following administration of the third dosage, measurements will be taken...
      • Research shows clearly that…
      • Our department launched SAP this year…
      • After dosage 3, we will measure…
    • 5. Formulate specific, measurable objectives Pitfall 5: Murky Goals & objectives “ It is anticipated that completion of the new curriculum will result in better student scores.” “ The implementation of this new curriculum program will result in a 5 percent increase in students’ PSSA exam scores.” Poor Better Goal : General statement of the project’s overall purpose(s) “ Our aim with this innovative curriculum is to improve the number of students considered Proficient or Advanced on the PSSA exam .” Objective: A specific, measurable outcome or milepost
    • 6. Illustrate a detailed implementation plan Specify major tasks and timelines (tables work well for this) Use flow charts, calendars, or Gantt charts Visualize the project on a single page Pitfall 6: Vague plan
    • 7. Follow application instructions exactly ! Common sins: - Late submission - Narrative too long - Fonts, margins, spacing too small - Signatures, certifications missing - Budget narrative missing - Insufficient number of copies - Inappropriate binding Pitfall 7: Deviating from guidelines
    • 8. Pay attention to all review criteria Read evaluation standards carefully; then reference them in the project narrative Benchmarks should align with project objectives Touch all the bases--not just the ones you’re comfortable with Reviewers will use the criteria to “score” your proposal Pitfall 8: Ignoring review criteria
    • 9. Polish the abstract Should reflect entire scope of project Summarize project purpose and methods Must convey: - What researcher intends to do - Why it’s important - Expected outcome(s) - How work will be accomplished Write the abstract or summary last Pitfall 9: Weak abstract This may be the only narrative that some reviewers will read, e. g., the financial officer
    • 10. Presubmission review Ask seasoned colleagues for comments and suggestions Should be qualified to critique proposal content Check your ego at the door Allow time for rewrites! Pitfall 10: Writing solo
    • 11. Use proofreaders
      • Find an eagle eyed perfectionist
      • Proofreaders read for form , not content
      • Must be someone who has no stake in the project!
      • Learn to love what s/he will do for you
      • Zero tolerance--no error is too small to correct
      • Root out inconsistencies in format as well as typos, misspellings, grammar, etc.
      Pitfall 11: Document errors
    • 12. Write, rewrite & rewrite
      • Most winning proposals have been polished repeatedly
      • Let it rest in between; sleep on every rewrite
      • Must allow time!
      (Famous rewriters: Hemingway, Michener) Pitfall 12: Insufficient editing
    • I. Introduction/Agency History
      • When your school was established
      • What is its mission statement
      • Briefly highlight key past successes
      • The idea is to introduce your school and give the funder confidence that you have the resources and expertise to successfully complete this project: Can do, have done
    • II. Problem / Statement of Need
      • What is the problem that your program will address?
      • Use data / evidence judiciously to support this need
      • Balance hard data with soft data
      • You have to demonstrate your understanding of the problem for them to believe that you can address it effectively
      • Need should not be a “lack of...”
    • II. Problem / Statement of Need
      • “ We need a youth center to better serve the needs of our children.”
      • “ Lack of a student management system is impeding our district’s ability to comply with NCLB requirements.”
      • “ Regional non-profits need a modern meeting facility that meets the community’s needs of high quality equipment and low cost of use.”
    • III. Objectives
      • Flow from problem/needs statement
      • Clear and measurable
      • Align clearly with evaluation benchmarks
      • Realistic
    • IV. Methods/Timeline
      • Program description, with specific activities
      • Explain how you will accomplish the stated objectives
      • Be specific, but avoid giving too many details
      • Tables work well for organizing your timeline
    • V. Evaluation
      • Funders have a right to expect results for their $$
      • Build in the evaluation now, not after the project is finished; how else will you get a baseline?
      • Consider how you will collect and analyze the data, then how you will report it. Consider who your audience is.
      • Don’t make promises you can’t keep
      • This is really an opportunity for you, to help you improve your program over time
    • Possible Types of Evaluations
      • Pre/Post-tests
      • Rubric assessments
      • Focus Groups
      • Client Surveys
      • Teacher feedback forms
      • Report Cards
      • Attendance rates
      • Standardized exam scores
      • Independent evaluators (e.g. MARTEC/IU)
    • VI. The Budget
      • Translating your narrative into dollars
      • Do your homework!
      • What they’re evaluating here is whether your stated costs are reasonable in relation to the objectives, design, and potential significance of your project.
      • Important: After reading the first few sentences or paragraphs of your narrative, they may flip to your budget to decide whether or not to keep reading.
    • Be Specific
      • Be as specific as possible. Instead of saying “office supplies,” list what you’re purchasing, in what quantity, at what cost. Show the math: widgets @ $3 X 30 = $ 90
      • So the project doesn’t put you in debt, consider the full costs of your program
      • Be realistic. Don’t ask for outrageous amounts as a negotiating tool
      • As always, follow the guidelines if they request the budget in a specific format
    • “ Convince the reader that every cent in your budget is necessary, there are no unnecessary frills, and your operation is as economical as is consistent with success.” — Robert Tinker, chairman, The Concord Consortium A Word on Budgets
    • VII. Sustainability
      • ESSENTIAL - They want to make their investment a lasting one.
      • Can you fold the project into the curriculum that the school will fund?
      • Is your project finite? Will it serve as a model for others, or will you disseminate what you learned to others?
    • Executive Summary/Abstract
      • Write this piece LAST
      • It has to summarize who you are, what the problem is, how you propose to solve it, and how much money you’re asking for . . .
      • . . . AND be compelling enough for the funder to want to read the rest of the proposal. Think of it as writing the jacket for a book you just wrote. Try to keep it original, even though there will be duplication of information.
    • Fit research and grant writing into your job Find a mentor(s) Read successful grants; attend workshops Find collaborators Get funding alerts; conduct your own searches regularly Think big, think small, think different Network, network, network Submit, revise & resubmit! Final Tips for Success...