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Frequently Asked Questions:
Office for Grants
What is the function of the Office for Grants?
The Office for Grants is a unit within Institutional Advancement. Our mission is to assist faculty, staff, and administrators seek, apply for, and receive external funding to promote innovation and meet the educational needs of students. Located within the Division of Advancement, the Office for Grants works to advance the Mission, Vision and Strategic Outcomes (Ends) of the College, thus supporting the development of projects and programs that foster teaching and learning strategies designed to enhance student success. Services provided by the Office for Grants include:
- assist in the grant writing process,
- provide grant writing training,
- assist with project budgeting and personnel requests,
- manage the internal grant approval process,
- coordinate grant submissions,
- grant administration, and
- build and maintain relationships with funding agencies and organizations.
Who should I contact if I want to submit a grant proposal?
Dr. Shauna Sterling, Director of Grants, can assist in guiding you through the steps of the process for submitting a grant proposal. Please contact her as soon as possible at firstname.lastname@example.org or (479) 619-4339 if you have a project/program concept that you would like to submit for a grant application within the College's fiscal year, PRIOR to developing a proposal. We ask that you begin the pre-proposal grant process at least THREE WEEKS prior to the grant application deadline.
Where is the Office for Grants located?
The NWACC Office for Grants is located on the third floor of Burns Hall.
Dr. Shauna Sterling, Executive Director of Grants & Effectiveness, is located in BH 3036.
Jennifer Post, Coordinator, is located in BH 3035.
Initial Proposal Activities
I have an idea. What do I do with it?
Consult with the Director of Grants, Dr. Shauna Sterling, who will meet with you and help you develop a concept. Contact Shauna at email@example.com or x3136 or in BH3036.
How do I find funding for my project?
Individuals who have identified needs for outside funding are encouraged to contact the Office for Grants even before a source of funding is identified. The Office for Grants will assist individuals in finding possible funding opportunities and will relay information about funding sources in the following ways:
- A list of current and ongoing funding opportunities in maintained on the Office for Grants website;
- Funding notices are distributed during the Extended Cabinet and can be obtained from Cabinet members or on the Office for Grants website; and
- Faculty and staff are also encouraged to inform their campus administrators and colleagues of identified needs for funding and funding opportunities.
How do I develop this idea into a grant proposal or application?
Consult the grant development aids in the Grants Toolkit. Contact the Office for Grants early in the process for help with performing a needs assessment and drafting objectives. Then request formal permission to proceed by completing a Pre-Proposal Grant Request Form.
I want to submit a grant proposal. Where do I start?
The first thing that needs to be determined when you consider applying for a grant is if the College is an eligible entity. The program initiator must take the time to review the Solicitation of Grant Award (SGA) announcement to ensure that the College is specifically indicated as an eligible entity to apply. Please review the full Office for Grants Policies & Procedures prior to seeking external funding. For tips on developing a grant proposal, visit the Grants Toolkit.
What questions should I ask in determining whether or not to proceed with proposal development?
- Is there sufficient time to develop the proposal?
- Is there sufficient support to get required signatures?
- Is there sufficient time to develop necessary partnerships?
To view a full list of questions to help determine whether your idea has what it takes to make the transition from concept to funded project, consult the Grant Development Decision Questions.
Is it important to determine if the SGA is an ongoing scheduled event or if it is a one-time funding opportunity?
Determining the type of funding opportunity will help with your proposal and timeline development, and will help you decide whether to pursue the opportunity this grant cycle or the next SGA.
What other factors must be considered before writing a proposal or completing any forms?
When do I have to worry about a conflict of interest?
- Consideration must be given to the relationship between the goals and objectives of the proposed project, the SGA and the College vision and mission.
- Based on the submittal date, a proposal development timeline has been developed.
- The required match (if any) of the specific SGA is supported by the College leadership and the resources are available to meet such requirements, and an account has been designated for securing those funds.
- Space for the project has been identified and approved by the appropriate Cabinet member.
- Sustainability of the project after the award is complete has been established.
All grant developers must show proof that there is an absence of a financial or other interest or affiliation held by them or a member of their immediate family in the funding agency or in companies from which goods and services will be obtained under the external funding activity. If you believe a conflict of interest may exist, you must disclose that conflict by completing the Disclosure of Financial Interests Related to Sponsored Projects form.
Once eligibility and other factors have been determined, am I ready to apply?
No, you should first notify the Office for Grants as soon as you have decided to apply for a specific award. At a minimum, we ask that you notify the Office for Grants and ensure that the Pre-Proposal Grant Request Form is submitted to the Office for Grants and approved at least three weeks prior to the proposal deadline. Please keep in mind that if your proposal is anticipated to include subawards or cost sharing/matching, additional time maybe needed. All requests for grant funding for college activities must go through the Office for Grants. Please review the full Office for Grants Policies & Procedures on how to begin the application process.
Will the Office for Grants write my proposal?
The Office for Grants can provide varying degrees of assistance in developing the proposal, depending on focus of the proposal and level of assistance needed. Occasionally, assistance can be provided with the writing of the proposal. However, most proposals are written by those individuals who will be directing the projects.
Why should I complete a proposal development timeline?
A proposal development timeline should be created to help identify, organize and prioritize tasks, forms and approvals that need to be completed, the timeframe for specific activities, and the responsible person. The complete timeline helps ensure that the proposal will be submitted on time.
What does the proposal developer need to include when creating an earnest timeline?
The proposal developer should include:
- every task and element necessary to complete the proposal with sufficient time before the deadline for internal review,
- document development in support of statements made addressing the criteria,
- narrative development with time for outside editing,
- relationship development with third parties/project partners where necessary and
- time to address input and required changes by internal reviewers.
It is imperative that the proposal developer take time up-front to actually plan each task and event, and place it on a real timeline that takes the proposal development from initiation to the submittal date. For more tips on developing a timeline, visit the Grants Toolkit.
Why does time assessment need to be carefully measured?
If there is not sufficient time to develop a well-written, complete and competitive package for the grantor, then the proposal writer should consider pursuing another source of funds or preparing for the next funding cycle for the chosen grantor.
What is a Principal Investigator?
Every grant proposal must indicate a grant project administrator or primary investigator. In the case where a project administrator is to be hired, the proposal must name a contact person who will oversee the project until hiring is completed.
Pre-Proposal Grant Request Form
What is the Grant Proposal Request Form?
The Pre-Proposal Grant Request Form allows the proposal developer to provide the Office for Grants with all of the pertinent information needed to assist in the proposal development, application package compilation and submission. The Pre-Proposal Grant Request Form also requires an overview of the proposed program which provides the reviewers with appropriate information so that they may approve the development and submission of the proposal.
Am I required to submit a Pre-Proposal Grant Request Form?
Yes, it is imperative that you get the Pre-Proposal Grant Request Form in motion PRIOR to developing a proposal. The Office for Grants is no longer providing same day service for obtaining signature on grants. The Pre-Proposal Grant Request Form must be submitted THREE WEEKS OR MORE PRIOR to the grant application deadline (exceptions may apply based on extenuating circumstances). Failure to follow this deadline may result in the proposal not receiving approval for submission. Dependent upon the size and complexity of the proposal, the Office for Grants reserves the right to require a greater amount of time.
Please review the full Office for Grants Policies & Procedures prior to seeking external funding.
Who signs the Grant Proposal Request Form?
Every grant proposal must be approved by:
- Proposer's immediate supervisor,
- Dept. Dean/Chairperson,
- Cabinet Vice President
- Director of Grants
- Senior Vice President for Advancement, and
- College President.
How long will it take to get the Pre-Proposal Grant Request Form processed and how will I know when the process is complete?
Depending upon your assigned Cabinet VP and the availability of College administration, you should expect it to take at least a week from the date you submitted the form to the Office for Grants. It is the responsibility of the proposal initiator to track the form from the immediate supervisor to the Office for Grants. Once it reaches the Office for Grants, the Director of Grants will continue tracking the signatures and process the Pre-Proposal Grant Request Form. Once the Pre-Proposal Grant Request Form has been processed, the Office for Grants will notify the proposal developer. Please view the entire Office for Grants Policies & Procedures here.
Do I have to wait until my Pre-Proposal Grant Request Form has been processed to begin preparing my grant application?
No, while your form is going through the approval process, familiarize yourself with the SGA's evaluation criteria. Evaluation criteria are key to understanding and developing activities that that meet the requirements of the proposal.
Once I have been notified that my Pre-Proposal Grant Request Form has been approved and processed, what steps should I follow to get my application submitted?
As previously stated, it is important to consider the SGA's evaluation criteria. Use the following as a guide:
- Design and write the program to specifically respond and meet the SGA's evaluation criteria;
- Define an overarching goal of the proposal program and develop objectives that meet the goal of the program;
- Develop tasks with deliverables or outcomes (tangible and/or intangible, but definitely measureable) to accomplish the project's stated objectives;
- Develop a detailed description of how the program can be replicated when grant funds end, or how it is applicable to other institutions – providing a secondary benefit that could be gained when grant dollars and/or programs ends is another way to address this issue. Grantors are looking for projects to fund. If funds are sought as something just to "buy time", or to establish something that shall require grant-funded support in perpetuity, then the application is not a likely candidate for funding.
- Develop a budget that supports all of the program activities in detail. Use the Office for Grants Budget Template or contact our office for support in budget development. It is highly recommended to always breakdown your costs into units and cost per unit. An accompanying written explanation of how the cost was arrived and why the expense is necessary for the program are also very important as a narrative justification to your program budget.
Visit the Grants Toolkit for more information on developing your proposal, budget and application.
How do I develop a budget?
More information on developing a budget, as well as a sample budget and a budget template, are available in the Grants Toolkit. If you should need further assistance upon completing the applicable worksheets, please contact us.
What is the difference between equipment and supplies?
Equipment is personal property over $5,000. Supplies are all personal property (excluding equipment, intangible property, and inventions) valued under $5,000.
What is the difference between direct costs and indirect costs?
Direct costs are those that can be identified specifically with a particular activity. Indirect costs are any costs not directly identified with a single final cost objective, but rather identified with two or more final cost objectives or with at least one intermediate cost objective. Policies governing and examples of acceptable direct and indirect costs can be found here.
Do I use NWACC's indirect cost rate or the external funding agency's indirect cost rate?
The SGA should contain a section which specifically states whether the proposed budget should reflect the external funding agency's indirect cost rate or the College's federally negotiated indirect cost rate. NWACC's federally negotiated indirect cost rate is 50% of salaries and fringe benefits.
Can I use a grant to pay salary?
NWACC will not accept grant funding which would increase an employee's total compensation for the academic year beyond the agreed upon full time salary. This does not include stipends or summer school salary. Please view the full policy here.
Final Review, Approval, and Submission
What is the Final Review and Approval Form?
The Final Review and Approval Form provides an overview of the funding opportunity and proposal for College Administration to review and provide final approval for submission. It is the responsibility of the grant proposer to receive final approval of the grant proposal at least seven working days PRIOR to the proposal deadline. The grant proposal along with the Final Review and Approval Form must be submitted for final review and approved before it may be submitted to an external funding agency. Please review the full Office for Grants Policies & Procedures for the detailed procedures regarding proposal submission and approval prior to seeking external funding. No proposal may be submitted to any external agency without final administrative approval as outlined in the Policies & Procedures. Failure to follow these procedures will result in the proposal not being submitted and/or withdrawn.
What additional documents are required when I turn in my proposal to the Office for Grants?
How do I get the Final Review and Approval Form processed?
The following steps should be followed to obtain final review and approval of ALL proposals:
- Complete the Final Review and Approval Form.
- Attach all applicable items listed under the Application Package Checklist on the form.
- Obtain the required signatures in the first signature box on the last page of this form.
- Submit the signed form along with electronic and hard copy versions of the proposal, budget, and Disclosure of Financial Interests Related to Sponsored Projects form (and any other required application items) to the Office for Grants for final review and approval.
The Office for Grants will obtain the final signatures in the second signature box, and will submit all approved proposals in accordance with the external funding agency's submittal requirements.
When should I turn in my proposal to the Office for Grants?
It is the responsibility of the grant proposer to receive final approval of the grant proposal at least seven working days PRIOR to the proposal deadline. The grant proposal along with the Final Review and Approval Form must be submitted for final review and approved before it may be submitted to an external funding agency. Please review the full Office for Grants Policies & Procedures for the detailed procedures regarding proposal submission and approval prior to seeking external funding. No proposal may be submitted to any external agency without final administrative approval as outlined in the Office for Grants Policies & Procedures. Failure to follow these procedures will result in the proposal not being submitted and/or withdrawn.
Proposals should be submitted electronically to firstname.lastname@example.org. Proposals should be submitted in .doc or .docx format ONLY.
Is there a quick checklist for getting a proposal through the process?
Yes. The Proposal Checklist is available here <link>.
Do I have to follow the request process for continuing or renewal grants?
Yes. Continuing or renewing a grant is viewed as an opportunity to reassess each request to ensure it aligns grants with the College's priorities for grants.
If I am requesting just equipment, do I need to follow the grant request process?
Yes, if grant or external funds will be used to pay for the equipment. It is important to ensure that the equipment and facilities are configured and used in a manner that is effective and meets the needs of the College.
How does my proposal get submitted to the external funding agency?
The Office for Grants submits all approved proposals. Usually these are submitted by overnight, receipt-requested mail. Increasingly proposals are submitted electronically.
What is required of me once the grant is awarded?
A full description of the grant management responsibilities is available here <link>.
What is the policy regarding the facilities and equipment needed for grant activities?
The full policies regarding use of NWACC facilities and equipment and the procurement of external equipment, materials and supplies can be found here.
What procedures are in place for hiring grant-funded employees?
If an awarded external grant budget includes an amount for hiring employees, all hiring activities must be processed through the established procedures for hiring classified employees in a provisional position as set forth by the NWACC Office of Human Resources. A grant-funded position is classified as provisional, meaning that the position will end when the external funding ends.
The first step in this process is to contact the Office for Grants and submit a position request. Once the request has been approved, the next step is the Position Development, which will be handled by the requesting department and NWACC Office of Human Resources. Before requesting that the position be developed, the grant proposer must have already established a grant fund number through the Finance Office. The existence of a grant fund number is essential in order to properly charge the grant for the costs associated with the employee being hired.
The full policies and procedures regarding hiring of grant-funded employees can be found here.
For questions/comments on this content, please contact Shauna Sterling.