Writing Successful Grants KnowledgeBase

The Writing Successful Grants KnowledgeBase is an online resource aiding education professionals in their pursuit of public and private grants to support local programs. Its five elements contain information and resources that assist the grant seeker with developing their project, writing the grant proposal and managing the grant upon its award.

Element 1: Assess Organizational Needs and Basis for Desired Funding

Purpose: Writing a successful grant application begins with understanding the reason for seeking grant funding from a governmental agency or private foundation. If the grant seeker is a school, the organizational assessment undertaken for improvement planning may provide useful reasons for the desired funding.

The grant seekers organizational assessment must address the subject area the funding organization has an interest in supporting. In regards to a governmental grant proposal, the assessment must address the request for proposal's focus.

Element 1 outlines the tasks involved in creating an organizational assessment.

Activity 1: Take a Snapshot of Your Organization

Activity 2: Identify Broad Areas in Need of Improvement

Task 2: Orient the Project Team


Guideline: At its first meeting the project team should have an orientation session revieiwng its purpose, role, and task. In designing the program the grant seeker should include an overview of the team's charter, the anticipated time line for completing its work, and team dynamics. Presenting the orientation program should be the role of the designated lead project person. In doing so the project lead might concentrate on the project specifics and utilize a person experienced with group dynamics to focus on the interpersonal interactions among team members. The length of the session of can be mitigated by providing background material to team members to review in advance. Orienting the project team gives its focus and direction, two conditions necessary for a successful team effort.

Creative Thinking Tools - The Six Thinking Hats

Individual group members often have divergent viewpoints. Edward de Bono's Six Thinking Hats is a system fostering collaboration, increased productivity, creativity, and innovation. The concept enables participants in a discussion to move from the traditional argumentative approach to a collaborative process and fosters a more productive dialog. The document provides an overview of the tool and additional resources about it.


Fist to Five Consensus Activity

The Fist to Five consensus activity is a tool groups can use to reach consensus when making decisions. This link is to a set of instructions for using this tool.

Guidelines for Productive Meetings

This guide from the Team Handbook might assist team members with having productive meetings.

Meetings 101

This tip sheet from EffectiveMeetings.com offers a basic primer on how to conduct effective meetings.

Developing and Writing Grant Proposals

This link to the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance website provides information about writing a federal grant proposal. Though oriented towards federal grants, the general content may be useful grant writing orientation information for a grant seeker's project team.


Office of Research Integrity

This link is to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Office of Research Integrity. Though intended for scientific research grant seekers may find the misconduct resources useful to assure integrity in writing their grant proposals and executing awarded grants.


Team Stages

Groups have a life-cycle of their own. When a team is formed it goes through a predictable maturation process in order to become an effective unit. This document offers guidance on the stages a team goes through as it members adjust to working together.

Element 2: Outline the Project Ideas

Purpose: Developing innovative grant ideas that fulfill organizational needs is essential in a successful grant application. The successful grant application will be one that effectively matches the grant seeker's project ideas with the grant funder's interests or programmatic focus!

Activity 1: Create a Project Team

Activity 2: Conceptualize Project

Element 3: Organize for Action

Purpose: Prior to writing the grant application, the project lead should pre-plan how the application will be developed, a timeline for completing it, and an internal review process for the application. Element 3 outlines the steps in creating a road map for the application process.

Activity 1: Understand the Grant Requirements

Activity 2: Plan to Act

Element 4: Develop and Submit the Grant Proposal

Purpose: The grant proposal brings life to the project idea. It is the vehicle the grant seeker uses to sell their idea to the prospective funding sources. Element 4 outlines the steps to develop and submit a successful grant application. Once the application has been submitted, follow-up with the funder is essential.

Activity 1: Develop the Project Plan

Activity 2: Commit the Proposal to Paper

Activity 3: Review and Finalize the Proposal

Element 5: Implement the Grant

Purpose: Upon receiving the grant award it is necessary to have a process in place for administering and managing the grant. Element 5 outlines the steps involved with implementing the project and fulfilling the grant's administrative requirements.

Activity 1: Administer and Manage the Grant

Activity 2: Accomplish Change

Activity 3: Evaluate Project Outcomes