||April 26, 2001
Volume 31 Number 15
for the faculty, staff, administrators, and friends of California State
Can Get Federal Funding
What is the key to receiving federal funding for a research or education
project? On February 25 at a new-faculty workshop, Lisa Churchill (Physical
Education), Kristina Schierenbeck (Biological Sciences), and Gordon Wolfe
(Biological Sciences) answered that question: Write a good proposal! While
each presenter articulated insights about how to do that, all agreed that
it is important to do the following:
- Carefully read the Request for Proposal (RFP) before and during the
writing process and follow the directions explicitly. Reviewers look
for anything that reduces the number of proposals they have to read,
and technical errors provide them the opportunity to toss the proposal.
- Contact the funding agency's program director to discuss whether your
proposal concept fits the program's mission. If it doesn't, ask if there
is another program at the agency your concept might fit.
- While the science in the proposal must be excellent, how the proposal
is written is crucial. Divide the proposal into clear and consistently
headed sections that reflect the structure of the RFP; include specific
details and examples; and make sure the pertinent information is in
the text, not the appendix.
- Write with confidence and enthusiasm. Show how it will provide excellent
experiences for students, solve a critical problem, or develop a model
- Don't be intimidated by big research institutions. Instead, emphasize
the strengths of CSU, Chico: its strong commitment to undergraduate
education and student inclusion in research projects, its reputation
for distance education, and its excellent resource centers.
- Check out agency programs specifically targeted at undergraduate institutions,
such as the National Science Foundation's "Research at Undergraduate
Institutions" and "Research Experiences for Undergraduates."
- Make sure the budget reflects the work you intend to do. Asking for
too little can be as problematic as asking for too much, so it is important
that the budget be carefully developed to include everything you'll
need to complete the project, without exceeding the amount allowed.
- Become a proposal reviewer. This is one of the best ways to get to
know the funding agency and for them to get to know you. Usually agencies
require you to have obtained funding from them before you are invited
to review proposals, but it doesn't hurt to let them know you're interested
- Be persistent. It often takes several submissions to get a project
funded, but careful revision in light of reviewers' comments nearly
always pay off.
The presenters' enthusiasm, along with their track records for obtaining
federal funding for their research and educational projects, was inspirational.
While they didn't say the proposal process was easy, they made it clear
that proposals from CSU, Chico can be competitive at the federal level.
If you're interested in submitting a proposal to a federal agency (or
to any agency), contact your development specialist in the Office of Sponsored
Programs. We can help you get started.
Diane M. Johnson, Sponsored Programs