Planning a grant proposal

A competitive grant starts with careful planning. In this section, you’ll find easy-to-follow suggestions to organize and simplify the process — including an at-a-glance planning guide and a list of common problems that grant proposals attempt to solve. Jumpstart your thinking today!

Getting started

Getting started on a grant proposal or idea is often the hardest part. Preparation is the key ingredient to winning grants and will help assure you are ready to meet deadlines as they occur.

Tip #1

Use each grant announcement as a roadmap of the things you must include, plan, or implement in the proposed project.

At-a-glance planning guide

Use this guide to direct your energy and efforts toward developing a compelling grant proposal for any funding source in a reasonable timeframe.

Step 1: Talk with your campus grants office

Step 2: Form a grant project team (Divide and conquer!)

Step 3: Organize and focus your game plan

Step 4: Do your homework (What do I have? What do I need to have?)

Step 5: Visualize your project using a grant story map

Get a PDF of the complete At-a-Glance Planning Guide .

Developing a fundable idea

It’s a common myth that a grant proposal has to have a unique and innovative twist. A successful grant application begins with the identification and description of an existing problem that hinders instruction and learning. The daily problems you face in your classroom are often the best opportunities for grant rationales.

  • Detail and document the nature of the perceived problem, then place it in the context of a recognized national problem.
  • Use research, background data, and numbers to help make your case and justify your request.
  • Write to fund what you want to do, not what you want to buy!

Solving a problem

Use the following themes to help stimulate problem-solving ideas:

  • Providing options for at-home, at-school, at-work access for instruction, homework, review, and practice
  • Implementing technology resources for teachers and students
  • Diversifying teaching strategies
  • Increasing retention and success rates of higher-risk students
  • Reducing time to complete developmental math requirements
  • Offering flexible and individualized options for enrollment
  • Removing barriers to participation for adult returning students
  • Helping underserved student populations succeed in mathematics courses critical for career and technical training
  • Re-training unemployed or underemployed citizens for the workforce
  • Standardizing content and delivery methodologies for full- and part-time faculty
  • Professional development for full- and part-time faculty to assure consistent course content and assessment
  • Partnering with high schools for early-college or middle-college experiences
  • Improving college readiness for high school students

Tip #3

Remember that education grants are awarded to foster a better understanding of, interest in, and appreciation for a discipline by students.

Tip #4

Funding agencies look for projects that espouse the learn-by-doing philosophy. Make sure your project actively involves students in an endeavor that is enjoyable and challenging.


Interactive Grant Planning Guide

Need some fast help with your grant plan? This interactive training includes some of our best tips and hints for writing compelling, competitive grants for higher education.

Ready to start your proposal?

Review our grant writing tips