External Grant Applications
Applying for grants from federal and/or private sources, as well as administering those received, requires a significant time commitment on your part. Therefore, you are encouraged to consider whether you have, or are willing to find, the time necessary to devote to the proposed project. We highly recommend that you begin planning grant projects at least three to six months prior to the application deadline. We suggest that you use the following checklist as a guideline; each stage represents a valuable opportunity to gather information that will help us establish and reinforce a network of successful grant applicants across campus.
Initial consultation with the Corporate, Foundation and Sponsored Research Staff
Your first step in the grant seeking process is to visit the CFSR Office in the Landis Peabody Building. We ask that you bring a 75 word summary of your proposed project. This serves two purposes: it briefly tells us what your project is, and more importantly, it makes you focus on your goals. You must be able to articulate in very clear terms what need your project fills, why it is important, and how you plan to accomplish your objectives. During this meeting, we can come up with an initial plan of attack, assign responsibilities on who is going to do what, and determine what the next step will be.
Preparation of the Grant Application
You are encouraged to consult with other faculty members, and especially with your Department Chair, as you prepare your grant applications. As with all stages of the process, we are available as a resource during grant preparation. In the case of federal grants, you are strongly encouraged to contact the appropriate program officer directly for suggestions and advice on the proposed project and to ensure a full understanding of the grant program guidelines. Because the requirements of private funders vary widely, you should contact the development office at the outset of a project to determine who will serve as the liaison with the funding organization.
Tips on writing proposals
Budget Preparation & Approval
All grant budgets should be prepared in consultation with the Provost’s Office and CFSR Office. All federal applications—particularly those involving cost-sharing and indirect costs—must also involve the Finance Office. Final budgets should be completed two weeks before the application is due to allow the provost time to review and approve the budget.
Completed Application and Approval
Our office and the Provost’s Office must approve all grant applications prior to submission to external institutions; this includes explicit approval of proposal narrative as well as the budget. All external grant applications, regardless of their scope, reflect on the institution as a whole and affect the college’s reputation among its peers and among funding agencies. We will work with you to ensure that your application is appropriate and meets the university’s standards of content and formatting before submission. Approval for your project also depends on the level of institutional commitment required and whether it fits with Lawrence’s priorities and needs.
Please note that you must also certify that your application complies with the college’s financial disclosure/conflict of interest policy and, if applicable, with the U.S. Public Health Service’s standards for the protection, care, and welfare of human and animal research subjects.
(Is the financial disclosure/conflict of interest policy online somewhere?)
Submission of the grant application (see attached) with required university signatures.
We will submit all external grant applications from the CFSR Office by delivery service or electronic submission, whichever the funding agency prefers. We will also take care of making the necessary copies and delivering them to the appropriate offices.
Feedback and revisions (if necessary)
Feedback from the funding agency should be of interest to you, as it typically takes the form of approval or denial of an application, or of a request for revisions. To the extent that such feedback, whether positive or negative, helps us to understand the priorities and idiosyncrasies of a given funding agency, it can be valuable to the faculty and campus as a whole. For that reason, you are encouraged to keep records of your correspondence with these agencies and to file those records with your applications and with the CFSR Office. In all cases, the Provost Office must approve revisions to applications prior to resubmission.
A note on electronic submissions: For many federal agencies and private foundations, electronic submission of proposals is preferred and in some cases, such as the National Science Foundation, it is now required. For NSF applications, the entire proposal must be prepared and reviewed electronically prior to submission using forms and directions provided by the NSF Fastlane website; at the time of submission an “electronic signature” from a designated institutional authority is added and transmission of the document to the NSF is effected immediately.
A note on the role of the CFSR Office: We are available to faculty who would like assistance in preparing grant applications to federal and private funding agencies. Typically, this assistance includes gathering application forms and grant guidelines via the Internet or US Mail; providing advice on the format and organization of the proposal narrative, in particular, assessing the responsiveness of the narrative to the specific program guidelines; proofreading and editing proposal narrative; and researching and compiling institutional data required in the application guidelines. You should understand that we cannot be responsible for drafting core sections of a project narrative, nor can we be responsible for writing project reports after a grant has been awarded.
Exceptions to these general guidelines can and will be made based on the following criteria: 1) the grant experience of the faculty member applying, 2) the scope of the proposed project, 3) the existing workload of the CFSR staff, and 4) the potential funding source.
Glossary of Common Grant Terminology
Direct Costs: Direct costs are those that you can be identify specifically with a particular sponsored project, an instructional activity, or any other institutional activity, or that can be directly and clearly assigned to such activities. In short, they are clear, quantifiable costs associated with the project. Typical examples include salary and benefits of faculty members and other personnel associated directly with the project, essential equipment for the project, project supplies used solely for the project, consultant fees, travel, and maintenance agreements related to equipment.
Indirect Costs (Overhead): These are costs that are incurred for common or joint objectives and therefore cannot be readily identified with a specific project or activity of an organization.
Typical examples of indirect cost items are the costs of operating and maintaining facilities, local telephone service, office supplies, and accounting and legal services. Indirect costs are computed by applying a federally negotiated indirect cost rate to a distribution base that includes the salaries and wages of the project. Lawrence’s negotiated rate is 60%.
Institutional Background (a.k.a. “boilerplate”): A one-half to one page statement that outlines the college’s history, recent awards, academic programs, demographic make-up of faculty and staff, and financial stability, it constitutes an introduction about the institution for most proposals.
Most private organizations and many federal agencies request a brief statement of this sort and it is suggested that faculty use the text provided on the Provost and Dean of the Faculty website (updated annually) in full or abbreviated form in any grant application requesting background information about Lawrence.
Fringe Benefits: Fringe benefits may include contributions for Social Security, employee insurance, pension plans, etc. Only those benefits that are not included in an organization's indirect cost pool may be shown as direct costs. Also, fringe benefits for clerical, administrative, and part-time personnel may be calculated at different rates than for employees on academic year appointments. Lawrence uses a standard rate of 28% of annual salary to calculate benefits.
Unallowable Costs: Applies almost exclusively to federal grants and prohibits the use of funding for costs related to meals (if not part of a project-sponsored activity), entertainment, and alcoholic beverages.
Certification Regarding Conflict of Interest: For federal grant applications, the Principal
Investigator (P.I.) is required to certify that the institution has implemented and is enforcing a written policy on conflicts of interest. Any conflicts of interests that do exist must be shown to be prior to the institution’s expenditure of funds under the federal award or the conflict must be managed, reduced, or eliminated.
Certification Regarding Human or Animal Subjects: for any projects involving research on human or animal subjects, the Institutional Review Board, managed by the Director of Research Administration (Bill Skinner), must obtain prior authorization.
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Tips on Writing Grant Proposals