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Tips for Writing a Proposal

1. Contact the federal, state, or local grant office.
The contacts in each of these offices are there to help, and they welcome your call. They can clarify details about available grants and assist you with due dates, applications and pertinent information related to a specific grant.

2. Read the instructions thoroughly.
It may sound like a given, but this is the primary reason why many grants don't get funded—people just don't follow the directions. Make a checklist, and check it twice!

3. Create a timeline.
Working backward from the due date, create a list of all the important tasks you must complete, when they need to be done, and who will do them. Remember, about 40% of your time is spent on writing the grant. Use the remaining time wisely to plan and gather research and data to support your project.

4. Don't rush!
This goes hand in hand with the timeline. Proper planning will keep you from the night-before-it's-due marathon!

5. Market yourself.
Sell don't tell. Show enthusiasm for your project as you write the proposal. Remember, if you don't like your project, nobody else will either.

6. Demonstrate management skills.
Be certain to spell out the "who, what and when" of how the project will be managed. Mention names and positions, dates and times, etc.

7. Know your budget.
Think through everything (personnel, materials, travel, etc.), and be realistic. Be certain that what you are asking for is within the limits of the funding source. Remember—the budget can make or break your chances for funding.

8. Give thought to "cooperation."
Whenever possible utilize and reference other funding sources. Many grants require it, but most grantors like to see you are utilizing other resources for your project.

Make your case for your project and prove it, whenever possible, with research that backs up your plan. Database of U.S. Department of Education Publications in ERIC ( has great sources to support your writing.

10. Brevity is the soul of wit.
Be brief and to the point in your writing. Grant readers don't want to wade through extraneous information. Be brief and to the point in your writing.