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How To Build A Strong Proposal

Here are several tips for developing a strong proposal:

  • Contact educators who have had similar programs funded. Ask for their help, and if outside your competitive area, they may even share a copy of their proposal.

  • Ask the funding administrator to provide specific suggestions to help you develop your project. While you may not want to design your program based solely on their comments, you will want to consider their recommendations and incorporate them where possible.

  • Enlist the help, if possible, of a professional grant writer. Your district may have this person available. If not, you may find a volunteer connected with a development department on a college campus, or large social service organization.

  • Define program goals in terms of realistic outcomes. Accountability is a major component of all funding decisions, but especially the Perkins Act of 1998. Identify your goals in terms of numbers of students served, cost per student, and tangible results at the end of the program.

    Example: "With this comprehensive and integrated guidance program, 150 high school freshmen will develop personalized educational goals and a career plan for the next ten years.")

  • You must have outside support. Try to gain the endorsement of your supervisor and administrator. Contact local business leaders and, if possible, obtain their participation as mentors and guest lecturers for the project. Request letters of support to include as part of your proposal.

  • Be creative. Put yourself in the position of the person who will judge your proposal. What would you like to read in a narrative? What type of program would impress you?

  • . Send copies of the Career Choices textbooks in your packet (request their return). Create a clear explanation of how the program will progress (time frame) and what teachers will be involved (their background and expertise).

  • Comply with proposal deadlines.

  • Develop your proposal as a professional package. An appealing proposal will receive more attention. However, be careful not to "bulk it up" with information or data not appropriate or relevant. Keep it lean and attractive. .

  • Have someone familiar with grant writing read your proposal and suggest ways to improve format, flow, tone, and content.

  • Include in your proposal a sense of urgency. If you can dramatize the need for the program, you improve your funding chances considerably.

State coordinators and consultants suggest the following tips on developing Perkins proposals:

  1. Join district or consortium committees to participate in the restructuring process.

  2. Find out specifically what information funders have to present to their supervisors and provide that information.

  3. Follow the proposal formats even if it seems easier to do it your way.

  4. Get the support of your school and district administrators and mount a team effort.

  5. Show how the funds will be used and what you expect to change. Include a pre- and post-assessment process to measure results.

  6. Ask questions, request information, obtain guidelines, and make sure your project fits the framework before you invest the time and energy of writing a proposal.

  7. Identify means for evaluation and follow-up. Show how you will document your efforts/success.

Action Plan for Developing a Proposal

To help structure your planning sequence, you may want to use the following simple six point plan:

  1. Develop a clear understanding of needs and define measurable goals of the program.

  2. Describe the ideal program and determine the specific cost.

  3. Identify and contact all possible funding sources to determine their proposal criteria-especially guidelines and deadlines.

  4. Draft proposal and gain support of administrators, supervisors and coordinators.

  5. After input, revise proposal and submit.

  6. Continue to keep lines of communication open with the funding source and lobby for your program.

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