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Proposal Preparation

Return to Grants Application Process

This step in the grant process should occur concurrently with the Budget Preparation [Link to Budget Preparation page] step. Both steps rely on each other for information, and both will require time for review and input from other members of the District staff.

Most grant proposals will include the following elements:

For your assistance, we also offer the following resource related to grant document development:

Proposal Summary or Abstract

The proposal summary appears at the beginning of the proposal and outlines the project. It should be brief; no longer than two or three paragraphs (regularly limited to one page).

  • Prepare the summary after the proposal has been developed. This makes it easier to include all the key points necessary to communicate the objectives of the project.
  • The summary document becomes the foundation of the proposal. The first impression it gives will be critical to the success of the venture. It must be neat, easy to follow, succinct, and include the key points.

Organizational Background (Introduction)

Summarize the college’s mission, background, geographical location, relevant demographic data, and experience in planning and implementing similar programs, and/or working with similar target populations.

The organizational background should consist of the following, stated very briefly:

  • Focus on the credibility of the organization
  • Include, a brief history of when, how and why the organization began
  • Define the mission and the purpose of the organization
  • Discuss any significant events or achievements
  • Describe the impact of the organization on the community
  • Talk about who you serve. When? Where? Why?
  • Be concise, specific and compelling

Need Statement

This section outlines the need addressed by your proposal. It should provide the reader with statistical information that is no more than five (5) years old and is local, state or national data. In this section you can include any specific statements of fact, graphs, charts, maps, tables, etc.

  1. Clearly, compellingly state the need for the proposed project or program. Remember, the lack of something does not constitute a need for it. Avoid circular reasoning. (ie. We need a computer lab because we don’t have one.).
    1. Example: While on-line tutorials have proven effective at increasing reading comprehension, a survey of students in below-college reading classes showed that only 25% possess personal computers. Furthermore, only 15% of basic skills students stated that they use the college computer labs for on-line tutoring because of wait lists averaging 45 minutes or more.
  2. Demonstrate understanding of the problem to be addressed. Cite examples, use statistics that illustrate the scope and depth of the problem.
    1. Example: 60 percent of incoming freshmen test at below college level English (SCCCD Fact Book, Spring, 2016).
    2. Example: 43 percent of all students enrolled in college algebra fail the class or withdraw before the end of the semester (FCC Office of Institutional Research, Fall, 2015)
  3. Provide data that supports the claims made in the proposal and demonstrates the need to be addressed by your project objectives – be sure it is current and accurate. Document sources, use references.
  4. Do not make assumptions that reviewers know the community or the needs.

Goals & Objectives

Goals are broad and general in scope. They tell what the anticipated overall outcome will be. The following examples are goals for a health program:

  • Our goal is to reduce the incidence of teen pregnancy in Fresno County
  • Our goal is to decrease the rate of drunk driving among teens in Clovis
  • Our goal is to lower the risk of HIV/AIDS infections among African American women

Objectives describe who will be impacted, what will changed, how will it be changed and by when. Objectives differ from goals in that they are specific, measurable, and include a time frame for completion.

There are different types of objectives. Grant proposal readers look for at least one outcome objective that addresses the need(s) identified in the need or problem statement and demonstrates improvement over a baseline.

The following are examples of various types of objectives:

  • Process Objective: in the Fall, 2017 semester, 20 percent of FCC’s college algebra students will enroll in the student success learning community.
  • Learner Objective: By the end of the 16 week study skills course, 75 percent of the learning community students will increase their knowledge of test taking strategies as demonstrated by pre- and post- surveys.
  • Behavioral Objective: Each week, 60 percent of the students enrolled in the time management class will increase the number of minutes spent studying, as evidenced by weekly time logs.
  • Outcome Objective: Students in the student success learning community will have a 25 percent higher successful completion rate in college algebra classes than students not in the learning community.

Program Description

In this section, describe the “nuts and bolts” of your program. Explain to the reader the how, where, what and who of your program as described below:

  • How to will you achieve your stated goals and objectives?
  • Where will the strategies and activities take place?
  • Is your program based upon a documented strategy supported by current research, or a successfully funded program in another region or state?
  • What is the timeframe?
  • Who will the staff be?
  • What other agencies are you collaborating with to provide this program to the community (internal and external)?
  • What are the perceived outcomes (how will students benefit)?

Scope of Work (Workplan)

The scope of work should be thorough and logical. It should clearly identify action steps, persons responsible, timelines and evaluation criteria for each objective. This is a blueprint for the project director and/or staff to know what they need to do and what is expected of them once the project is funded.


It is important to define carefully and exactly how success will be determined and to develop criteria to evaluate progress towards project goals. What do you expect to be different once the project is complete? If you are having a problem developing your evaluation process, you better take another look at your objectives to make sure they can be measured. Be sure to consult with your campus or district Institutional Research departments for current data sources related to your project's work. Types of evaluations, formative and summative:

  • Formative Evaluation is a plan to evaluate the project activities during its execution. It can be used as a tool to make appropriate changes along the way. What evidence will you gather to demonstrate that you did what you said you would do?
  • Summative Evaluation is a plan to evaluate the project after its execution that measures how you will have met your objectives. What evidence will you gather to demonstrate that you achieved the outcomes you proposed?

Sustainability Plan

In this section, the funder simply wants to know how the program can be sustained beyond this grant. Here is where you will describe other funding sources for the program including grants received and those that are pending, institutional/FTE funding, support, or integration into institutional programs and services to continue successful project activities.

Program Budget and Budget Justification

The budget is an estimate of how you will spend the grant dollars. While budgets may be modified, careful planning will decrease the number of changes that may be required.

Campus Administrative Services offices must review all budgets prior to submittal of any SCCCD grant or subcontract. It is strongly recommended that you contact the campus Administrative Services unit very early in your grant application process to assure that they are aware of your application and can assist with the budget. Salaries must be based on SCCCD’s current salary schedule found on the district’s Intranet. A fringe benefit calculator must be prepared for each grant proposal that includes personnel. Always justify per unit costs that exceed $1,000 with quantity and cost per item. For federal grants, all equipment items with a cost of $5,000 and a useful life of more than one year require prior approval and must be described specifically in the proposal. Supply items do not need to be described with specific costs. Indirect costs are set by funding agency regulations; SCCCD will require the maximum indirect cost allowable up to 8 % of total direct cost.

Tips to Write a Grant Proposal

Grants are sums of money awarded to finance a particular activity or facility. Generally, these grant awards do not need to be paid back. Federal agencies and other organizations sponsor grant programs for various reasons. Before developing a grant proposal, it is vitally important to understand the goals of the particular Federal agency or private organization, and of the grant program itself. This can be accomplished through careful analysis of the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA), Request for Proposals (RFP) or Request for Applications (RFA), and discussions with the program officer of the agency (contacts are listed in each grant description document). Through such discussions an applicant may find that, in order for a particular project to be eligible for funding, the original concept may need to be modified to meet the criteria of the grant program. In allocating funds, programs base their decisions on the applicant's ability to fit its proposed activities within the program's interest areas.

It is important for an applicant to become familiar with eligibility requirements and other criteria related to the organization and grant program from which assistance is sought. Applicants should remember that the basic requirements, application forms, information, deadlines and procedures will vary for each grant maker.

Before You Begin Writing the Grant Proposal:

  • Rule #1: Believe that someone wants to give you the money!
  • Project your organization into the future.
  • Start with the end in mind...look at your organization's big picture. Who are you? What are your strengths and priorities?
  • Create a plan not just a proposal.
  • Do your homework: Research prospective funders. Try and search locally first. Target funding source that has interest in your organization and program.

If you need the money now, you have started too late.


"Grant Writing Training: The Essentials of Proposal Development", by Pam Grogan; President/CEO, THE FUNDING CONSORTIUM, LLC

U.S. Environmental Protection Agency: Tips On Writing a Grant Proposal

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