Grant Writing lecture 1


Welcome to Funding Your Ideas, an overview of grant writing and the resources at UIS to help support proposal development. I’m Keenan Dungey, the Associate Vice Chancellor for Research and Institutional Effectiveness. For 17 years I was a Chemistry professor at UIS, so I know the grant writing process both as a principle investigator and a grant administrator. In this first lecture, we’ll look at ways to find funding sources. The next lectures will cover guidelines for writing more successful proposals and the process for applying for grants at UIS.

The grant process starts with your ideas. Once you have a project focus, then you can search for grant programs that match your goals. Preparing the proposal includes writing the project description, as well as budget development. The submission process for your proposal involves the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs at UIS.

The Office also coordinates required research ethics training and the Institutional Review Board (IRB). Once you receive your award, you will manage your project with the assistance of your college office and the Assistant Director of Grants and Contracts. At the conclusion of your project, you will want to disseminate your results, and the agency will require reporting, both of the results and the expenses. Having established a track record of productive scholarship with your new publications and presentations, you're ready for the next grant proposal. As diagramed in the prior slide, the proposal process starts with your ideas. You need to focus your thoughts until you can describe the project goals in one, clear sentence. Only then can you search for a grant program. There are many types of granting agencies, and you need to find the best fit between their goals and yours in order to have the greatest chance of success.

And while you may have the greatest project idea in the world, if you can’t implement the project within the given context (UIS, the local community, your network of collaborators, the size of the budget, the facilities and other resources, including your time) then you won’t get funded. So you need to write a complete draft of the proposal in order to be able to explain how you can achieve the goals—and how important those goals are (what the impact will be)—with the resources available, including if you're going to involve any students, and training of them. And once you identify a funding source, you’ll need to revise your proposal in order to more closely match their needs. Even at this early stage in the process, please reach out to others on campus and ask for assistance. There are numerous offices on campus to help with proposal writing and locating funding sources.

Grant Writing lecture 1

The Office of Research and Sponsored Programs is your primary resource, and I’ll be describing various functions of our office in future lectures. The UIS Advancement Office is the fundraising arm of the University and has a Director of Development for Corporations and Foundations on staff. The Central Illinois Nonprofit Resource Center is located on campus in the Brookens Library and is available to assist faculty and staff, since UIS is a nonprofit public educational institution. The Center for State Policy and Leadership has staff to help coordinate external grants related to their mission for faculty and staff from any unit on campus. And, of course, we are part of the University of Illinois System, with a Vice President of Economic Development and Innovation to assist in grant development.

So let’s say you have a project idea that you’ve begun to develop and you’re ready to search for funding sources. You can look to government agencies, such as the National Science Foundation, the National Endowment of the Arts, the National Institutes of Health, the Department of Defense, and Department of Education and so on. Each of these federal agencies fund multiple grant programs, so you’ll have to search within them in order to find a match. is the place to search for almost all national government grant funds, but NSF and NIH have their own websites.

Private foundations also fund scholarship, within the mission of their organization, which is sometimes associated with a corporation. Professional associations often have their own internal grants for their members. These tend to be smaller than the other two areas, but there will be a limited pool of applicants and so these are a great place to get started with your proposal activities. As mentioned before, corporations fund projects, sometimes through their foundation, sometimes directly through contracts.

And your professional networks are a resource. The UIS Advancement Office is focused on corporations and foundations. They also have contacts with individual donors, and can develop relationships with your contacts that may result in donations.

Not all of us a comfortable with, or good at, asking for money, but that’s their job and they do it well, if you work with them. They can set up a meeting between you and a potential donor, giving you the opportunity to describe your project and share your passion. And they can help you with editing your proposal to keep it focused on the talking points. Like the Advancement Office, the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs can help you find funding sources. In particular, we’re familiar with government agencies and their programs. As will be described in the third lecture of this series, our office can help with every step of the application process. We are also responsible for research integrity for the campus and coordinate training and compliance for research ethics, conflict of interest, and the Institutional Review Board.

We are also in contact with the U of I Office of Technology Management to coordinate intellectual property issues. This next section was prepared by Pamela Salela, librarian at UIS, and coordinator of the Central Illinois Nonprofit Resource Center. The Center is a member of The Foundation Center, a national organization which has free online tutorials and in-person workshops for a fee. The Donors Forum is based in Chicago and focusses on non-profit resources in Illinois. Both of these organizations that the Center is affiliated with offer online searchable databases and daily list-servs.

Since UIS pays for these services, you need to be on campus to access them, or login through VPN service. The Center also owns print materials in Brookens library. Examples of the print materials include the Directory of Research Grants, the Annual Register of Grant Support, the Grants Register, and the Europa International Foundation Directory. Again, these resources are available in Brookens Library at the Center’s desk.

The focus of these directories are on funding sources for non-profit organizations, which would include UIS. To summarize, start the grant writing process by focusing your project idea. Use the resources at UIS to help you find funding agencies (public, private, professional) that have goals that match your own. Each database mentioned will provide a profile of the agency and the funding program. Dig a little deeper by looking at prior award winners to see what types of projects the agency has funded in the past.

Check the timeline and you may also want to contact the program officer to discuss your ideas to see if they fit. Thank you for your attention. In the next lecture, we’ll look at more tips for writing successful proposals.

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