Identifying Grant Resources
The primary sources of grant funds are state governmental agencies, federal governmental agencies, and private foundations. Governmental agencies will typically announce opportunities to request funds for specific purposes through a Request for Proposal (RFP) process. You can subscribe to receive notifications of state funding opportunities by registering your email address at http://data.fldoe.org/communications/. To search for grant opportunities from the federal government, go to www.grants.gov. The process for appealing to private foundations for funds to support a project is usually less cumbersome than applying to governmental agencies. Keep in mind that foundations support projects that fall within their identified priorities and limitations.
Applying for Grants
Before initiating any grant application, contact our office. It is very important to ensure that your project has institutional support before investing the energy required for preparing a grant proposal. We will steer the process of ensuring that your project is supported. Once you have been assured that you may proceed, keep in mind the following suggestions for requesting a proposal to be written:
- Determine how your proposal will be evaluated by those reviewing it. Every grant application is unique. In many cases, the funder will identify the criteria to be used to determine if your proposal will be funded. Remember that your proposal is probably competing with many others for a limited amount of funding. It is in your best interest to be sure that you have made a strong case that your project meets all stated criteria. If you are having difficulties addressing the funding criteria, it may be that your project is a poor fit. In that case, consider other sources such as private foundations that are likely to support your project.
- Consider the impact of your project. Will it only affect educational outcomes locally, or does it have the potential to be duplicated by other colleges for a broader impact? How will you measure its impact? Will it improve graduation rates, will it increase enrollment in high-demand disciplines, will it improve student learning, will it enhance a sense of inclusion among diverse students? Consult with the Office of Research, Technology and Accountability. They will help you identify ways to measure your project's impact. They will also be able to tell you if the information you need to report on its impact is readily available.
- Consult with all persons who will be involved in your project. If the project involves additional duties for existing personnel, be sure they are agreeable. Keep in mind that funders require tracking and reporting of project activities. Be sure you have the necessary support for the additional time involved for tracking, as well as the ability to collect the necessary information.
- Consider all of the resources needed to carry out your project. This includes faculty stipends, faculty release time, support personnel, materials and supplies, equipment, travel expenses, training and professional development, and so on. Remember that it is extremely rare that a governmental agency or foundation will provide funds simply to continue existing operations.
- You will need to demonstrate that your project is either an expansion or a new program. You will need to identify the additional resources needed in order to assemble a project budget. Consult with Human Resources in order to identify dollars needed for stipends, contract services, or additional support personnel. As you consider your budget, be sure to consider time frames. When will your project start and when will it end? Consider sustainability. How will the project be supported once grant funds have been expended?
- Determine whether the funding agency requires an institutional match for any projects they fund. If a match is required, you must ensure that matching fund are available. Conversely, funds received from private foundations may be eligible for matching funds from the state, which will increase the resources available for your project. There is usually a lag time before matching funds are available. Contact the Edison State College Foundation with questions about matching funds.
- Allow sufficient time to put together a strong proposal. Consider deadlines for project submission and be realistic about your ability to meet them. Remember that many governmental requests for proposals are cyclical. If you do not have enough time to meet an upcoming deadline, you may want to wait for the next cycle. This will allow you plenty of time to address all concerns related to your project.
- Call on the Office of Grants Development for assistance with submitting your proposal. Grants for projects funded by federal agencies will typically be submitted online. This requires specific passwords and processes to follow. The Office of Grants Development can guide you in these processes. In any case, be sure that you provide them with a final draft of your proposal before submission.
Grants are often an untapped resource that can support the capacity of Edison State College to innovate in the development of new programs or the expansion of existing services. Those who take the initiative to pursue grant funds are to be commended for their efforts. However, it is important to keep in mind the above suggestions in the pursuit of grant funds to ensure success. The Office of Grants Development welcomes the opportunity to assist in order to increase the chance of success.