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Grant Writing Process - Getting Started

Although grant opportunities are discovered—and pursued—in many different ways, this section offers a brief description of how many people begin the grant proposal process.

Sometimes the idea for a project comes first; other times, a funding opportunity arises, and the idea follows. Whatever the case, here are some things to keep in mind as you are preparing to work on a grant proposal:

Helpful Links

Seeking Funding by Cheryl Tupper, reprinted by Faculty Resource Center

Composing a Scholarly Life

A Checklist for Proposal Preparation by Jeanne Narum, ICO

Some Reasons for Faculty to Think Ahead by Jeanne Narum, ICO

What to Do Before You Write a Grant Proposal, Ohio Literacy Resource

Basic Elements of Grant Writing, Corporation for Public Broadcasting

Develop a scholarly agenda
Ideally, grant applications should grow out of a well-developed scholarly agenda that directs your research and goals. Grant opportunities should be pursued as part of this agenda, not as an afterthought. Visit the Office of Research and Scholarship.

Write a one-page abstract/executive summary
One of the best things you can do before you begin a grant proposal is to write a brief (one-page) summary of your proposed project. This will help you clarify and focus your ideas. Include in this summary

  •  description of the project
  •  the need for the project
  •  the target audience
  •  the methodology
  •  the outcome you expect to achieve

Be as clear as you can about what you hope to accomplish and what your vision of the project is. This summary will become important as you shape your ideas, present them to fellow faculty members, talk to program officers, inform us of your project, and, eventually, persuade potential funding sources.

Find a mentor
Input from fellow faculty members is vital in the beginning stages of grant writing, so be sure to seek out advice and feedback from them. You may choose to talk your ideas over with
  • your departmental colleagues
  • your department chair
  • your dean
  • off-campus colleagues
  • the Office of the Dean for Research and Scholarship, which has instituted a mentoring program to assist faculty in developing and pursuing their scholarly agendas. This program can be helpful to faculty from a variety of disciplines who are looking to further their research agendas.

Alert key people on campus
Notifying the appropriate people (department chair, dean) of your intention to apply for a grant helps draw attention to your proposal and enables them to pass along relevant information to you.

Alert the Grants Office
Although notifying the Office of Grants and Foundation Relations is not necessary in the planning stages of a proposal, doing so can be beneficial, particularly for locating funding sources and providing information about Calvin's relationship with specific foundations. If you e-mail the Grants Office with information on your research interest areas, we will watch for grant notices that might be of interest to you.


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