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Writing a compelling grant application

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  1. Writing a compelling grant application Trish Lowney osp.syr.edu plowney@syr.edu X2882 Spring 2011

  2. Understand why… • You want to apply for a grant • Asponsor should fund you andyour project

  3. The grant application process • Time/resource intensive • YOU: Writing /compiling materials takes time.. • Involves lots of folks • Sponsor: Selecting applications takes time.. • Involves lots of folks

  4. The grant application process • Time – most precious & limited resource • Be smart & strategic in writing efforts

  5. So, What is a grant application? • Marketing tool • Application for “investment” of $$  outcomes to benefit the public • Low risk  high yield? • High risk  high impact? • Description of or story about • why are you and your project are worthy of investment

  6. What is a grant application?? Document or packet of materials that • COMMUNICATES in its entirety clearly, concisely and according to sponsor’s guidelines.. • Great idea!!! • Significance and benefits to sponsor or society • Use of best approach to realize the idea • The availability of all resources essential for success i.e., team, expertise, experience, management skills, track record, etc. • Cost effectiveness

  7. What a grant application is not • A Lottery ticket • Random • Long shot • Same chance for all to ‘win’ • Be smart and strategic - your application won’t be a ticket to the lottery

  8. Key Considerations • Preparation • Time management • Relationship building • You are not alone…

  9. Preparation…. • Determine if your project is a good fit for the sponsor / funding opp • Do homework and learn: • The Sponsor’s mission, goals, objectives • Website; annual report; white papers… • Who/what have they funded recently? • Know any awardees? Contact to get application • Don’t know any awardees? Contact to get application • In both cases – view as a possible future collaborator…

  10. Preparation…. • Is your project a good fit for the sponsor? • Confirm you’re eligible for program • Citizenship, years since PhD, Field • Funds to SU: institution of higher ed or 501 (c )3 eligible? • Map out why there is significant match between your project / interests and the sponsor’s goals, funding objectives etc

  11. Preparation…. • Is your project a good fit for the sponsor? • Once you’ve ‘settled on’ a sponsor program / funding opportunity  • Contact program manager EARLY • Check website for contact preference • Meet at professional annual meetings • “Cold call” or email a concept paper • Confirm project focus, scope, approach, duration and cost are good fit.

  12. Preparation… • What’s a concept paper? • Brief (1 paragraph  1 page) summary • What you want to do (research question) • Why it’s important • Objectives / approach • Expected outcomes • Expected collaborators/investigators • Total project duration / cost • See also – OSP presentations • http://osp.syr.edu

  13. Time Management • If all indicators are positive • Tell your “boss” (Chair, dean, supervisor) your plans… • Provide OSP the solicitation, url, application, deadline, etc • Get organized: • Read instructions!! • Understand the review process and who will review • Make an outline

  14. Time Management • Read the instructions again • Review your outline • Clarify any questions • Program officer • OSP • Determine who will be responsible for what components (e.g., you, other researchers, dept support, OSP) • Identify any resources needed • Talk to your boss… (space, equipment, workers, graduate student tuition, etc)

  15. Time Management • Using your time wisely • Working back from SU internal deadline - develop timeline with milestones • To OSP: complete application & signed OSP routing & review form 3 business days before sponsor’s deadline • Budget, justification, draft narrative: 7 days before deadline • Consider non-SU collaborator’s schedules and their institutional deadlines • OSP requires written commitment & other materials from OSP equivalents

  16. Time Management & Writing … • Block time every day… • Follow instructions – for the organization of narrative andthe complete proposal • Creative ideas, NOT creative presentation…

  17. Writing … Understand the selection process and review criteria • Clearly & concisely convey • What you want to do • First two paragraphs/first page • Context of work (big picture) • Overarching goals • Specific objectives 1stpage • The importance or significance of what you want to do • First couple of pages • State of knowledge, needs assessment • Significance of project outcomes clear?

  18. Writing … Understand the selection process and review criteria • Clearly & concisely convey • Howyou are going to do what you want to do • Why you have chosen to use the specific approach selected (rationale for methods / approaches) • Describe any weaknesses or limitations to proposed strategies, how you plan to address any barriers encountered and alternative plans to achieve objectives • Expected results & interpretation • Describe how you know you are successful • “So What?” • Once the project is complete, so what?? • Circle back to original idea and discuss how met/addressed; address the sponsor’s need

  19. Writing – Format, Format, Format • Readable font • Informative headers (review criteria?) • Judicious use of white space • Illustrative materials • Pictures / Tables / Figures Make the reviewer your advocate! • Follow format instructions • Proposals get return unreviewed for format non-compliance

  20. Budget - Value • Financial Expression of the work plan • Work with OSP or budget manager early • Funds available can limit amount of work done • With work plan & timeline – major determinant of project feasibility

  21. Relationship building • Plan ahead! • Take advantage of all resources available to distribute the load • Give yourself and others adequate time • Engage the sponsor / program officer early & be respectful of their time • Have lots of different types of folks read your application early! • Work with OSP in advance – we can do our best work when we’ve time to work with and support you

  22. Summary – A compelling application conveys • A great idea • Significance to sponsor • The rationale for the activities / approaches to be used • Speed bumps/alternative routes • What success looks like (expected results and interpretation of ‘other outcomes) • The team is qualified and capable • All resources needed for success! • Good value!

  23. Wrap Up • Persevere!! • Try to get feedback from sponsor (always available from federal awards) • Revise based on comments • If at first you don’t succeed – try try again.

  24. Resource - Happy to read drafts! Trish Lowney, PhD Executive Director, Sponsored Programs 113 Bowne Hall Syracuse University Syracuse, NY 13244-1200 315-443-2882 (ph) 315-443-9361 (fx) plowney@syr.edu