Chapter 1: Introduction
It is easy to write a funding
proposal. However, not all proposals get
Moursund, D.G. (2002). Obtaining resources for
technology in education: A how-to guide for writing
proposals, forming partnerships, and raising funds.
Copyright (c) David Moursund, 2002.
Section Headings for Chapter 1
It is easy to write a funding proposal. However, not all
proposals get funded! Figure 1.1 shows a very short funding
proposal and a response from the funding agency.
Figure 1.1. A very simple funding proposal and its
Writing a grant proposal is much like writing a contract.
The contract must be agreed upon by both sides. In the
funding of proposals, either the proposal writer or the
funding agency can decide that the proposed contract is not
acceptable and decide not to participate.
Not all proposals for needed resources are successful.
However, the ideas in this book can greatly improve your
chances of success if you use them appropriately.
For instance, Figure 1.2 gives another example of a
fund-raising proposal. It is apt to be more successful than
the proposal in Figure 1.1. This revised proposal is
directed to a different "program officer." It is designed to
satisfy some of the goals of this program officer. This
illustrates a very important point. When writing a proposal,
it is important to understand the goals of the funding
Figure 1.2. A higher quality funding
My first days in college have been really
exciting. I have made many new friends--some from
thousands of miles away.
My French class is great! The teacher is cool and
has provided us with some computer software that
exactly fits my learning style. Also, the teacher has
provided us with e-mail addresses of French-speaking
students in three different countries.
I really need a memory upgrade and an external hard
drive for backing up my work. I can get a good deal
through the college's computer-buy program. For $350 I
can get the hardware I need and 10 CDs--including an
encyclopedia, a street atlas of the US, and the
complete works of Shakespeare! (Dad--I know you really
like Shakespeare. My lit teacher says we will be
studying Shakespeare next term.)
Mom, can you and Dad please help me with $350?
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Most successful proposal writers indicate that it has
taken them a great deal of effort to reach their current
level of expertise. They have learned by "doing." In
addition, they have learned that persistence is one of the
most important ideas in proposal writing. You have probably
heard the adage, "If first you don't succeed, try, try
The ideas in this book can be a big help as you get
started in writing proposals. However, success cannot be
guaranteed. You should view each proposal-writing activity
as a learning experience. As you write a proposal, get
feedback from your colleagues. Is the writing okay? Ask a
writing teacher. Is the technological content correct? Ask a
technology teacher. Does the overall proposal communicate
effectively? Ask a person who has written or evaluated a lot
If your proposal is not funded, find out why. Perhaps the
reason is that you did not fill out the required forms
appropriately or did not submit the proposal before the due
date. Perhaps the proposal focused on a topic outside the
funding agency's areas of interest. The proposal may not
have communicated effectively. Do whatever you can to get
feedback on why your proposal was not funded.
With the feedback in hand, recycle your proposal. Revise
it to improve it. Submit the revision to another funding
agency or resubmit it to the agency that rejected it. Keep
trying--don't give up!
In addition, keep computer-readable copies of every
proposal you write. As you get more and more engaged in the
proposal-writing business, you will find that you can reuse
pieces of previous proposals. For example, many proposals
require a description of your organization and its
activities, as well as a bibliography that supports your
proposed plan of action. Most proposals call for information
about the Project Director and key project staff members.
(You do keep your vita up to date and on a computer, don't
you?) Reusing appropriate pieces of previously written
proposals can save you a lot of time and effort.
Through study and practice, you can increase your
expertise as a proposal writer. As you gain in experience
and learn to build on the work you have done on previous
proposals, you will get faster and better at writing
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A Focus on
Technology in Education
The focus of this book is on writing proposals to obtain
resources for computer-related technology in education. The
examples and many of the specific sources of information
given here reflect that emphasis.
However, many of the ideas in the book hold true for
proposal writing in general. That is, there is considerable
transfer of learning in writing different types of
Roughly speaking, our educational system can be divided
into formal and informal components. Figure 1.3 represents
this idea in a Venn diagram and suggests that the two
components can overlap.
Figure 1.3. Venn diagram of our educational
Formal education is delivered in public and private
schools at the K-12 level and in higher education settings.
Informal education includes activities carried out at home,
in programs sponsored by museums and other cultural
institutions, and in before-school, after-school, weekend,
and summer programs. The home and the community are both
essential contributors in delivering informal education.
Both the formal and informal components of education can
be funded through the proposal-writing process. Some funding
sources are specifically directed toward our formal
educational system; others are specifically directed toward
our informal educational system.
Many funding opportunities are rooted in changes taking
place in our society and educational system.
Telecommunications technology--for example, the Internet,
including Email and the Web--is such a change. The Internet
is now having a significant impact on education. Many people
are writing grant proposals for research on effective use of
telecommunications, evaluation of telecommunications
projects, development of telecommunications-related
curriculum materials, or for implementation of
telecommunications programs in both formal and informal
education. Distance Learning (via the Internet) is another
Four general categories of proposals--research,
evaluation, curriculum development, and implementation--are
common in many different educational settings. Often a
proposal will include components from several of these
Research-oriented proposals seek funding to develop
knowledge that the Resource Seeker and others can build
upon in order to advance some field of intellectual
endeavor. Research focuses on solving problems and on
developing results that others can use and build upon in
Evaluation proposals may contain formative, summative,
and long term residual impact components.
- Curriculum Development
Curriculum development proposals are often tied in
with research--curriculum materials are developed and
their effectiveness is researched. Curriculum development
may also be tied in with implementation--materials are
developed and then used in a wide scale implementation
Implementation proposals request funds to obtain the
hardware, software, teacher training, curriculum
materials, and other support needed for implementation.
Sometimes a curriculum development component and/or a
research component are built into an implementation
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Technology and Change
In this book, educational technology refers to the full
range of computer-related technologies that may affect the
content or process of education. Thus, computers, computer
applications, computer science, multimedia, hypermedia, and
telecommunications are all part of educational
Educational technology is changing our world. It is
changing the way we work, the way we play, and the way we
conduct business. And, as might be expected, it is
transforming our educational system.
The diagram in Figure 1.4 is useful in discussing a
formal educational system. The diagram suggests that a
change in the system is unlikely to occur unless the change
addresses curriculum, instruction, and assessment issues,
mainly because there is a close interplay among these three
aspects in any formal educational system. Educational
technology is important in all three areas.
Figure 1.4. Three aspects of a formal educational
For the most part, neither our formal nor our informal
educational systems are designed for rapid change.
Educational technology is changing at a pace that far
exceeds what education can comfortably handle. Thus, many
educational technology proposals focus on dealing with
change and on helping an organization catch up to or to stay
near the cutting edge of this change.
There is a huge amount of literature on educational
change and on educational reform. Some of it is discussed
later in this book. If you are going to write proposals
dealing with educational technology, you must understand
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Resources for Educational
Most schools are not putting enough resources into
educational technology. They are not investing in hardware,
software, staff development, curriculum development, and
other activities that will adequately prepare students for
adult citizenship, including parenting, jobs or careers, and
This problem can be attacked in two ways: (1) working to
redirect existing educational resources towards appropriate
use of educational technology in both the content and the
process of the curriculum and (2) working to obtain new
resources not currently directed toward technology in
Here are a few examples of the types of things that you
might be able to do to help our educational system increase
its resources for Information and Computer Technology.
- Write proposals to funding agencies to obtain needed
- Develop technology-oriented partnerships with
business and industry.
- Develop a school bond proposal that provides money
for hardware, software, staff development, and other
- Convince the school board that it should provide a
line item in the school district budget for educational
technology. This may require a carefully written,
carefully orchestrated proposal as well as a formal
presentation to the school board.
- Work from within a professional society that focuses
on an area other than technology. Get this society to
increase its attention and resources toward helping its
members deal with technology's impact on their fields of
- Examine the educational technology holdings of your
school or community library. If these holdings are
inadequate, work with the librarian to acquire
- Take a careful look at the proposed job description
and skill requirements when a new person is hired into
the educational system. Are the educational technology
aspects and qualifications of the job adequately listed?
The job description and hiring practices should fit the
needs of an educational system that is committed to
making appropriate use of educational technology.
- Work at the school or school district level to
establish a high level of computer literacy as a
requirement for students.
- Be politically active. Work at the local, state,
regional, and national level to increase funding of
educational technology. Help your school or school
district establish a technology advisory council (Austin,
1993) and get yourself appointed as a council
- Redesign the teacher education program in your
college or university. Insist that no teacher candidate
be allowed to graduate from your program without an
adequate level of computer literacy.
Many of these suggestions involve writing proposals or
carrying out other activities designed to obtain resources
for your students, your school, organizations you belong to,
or projects that particularly interest you.
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Roles of Computers in
the Proposal Business
From time to time in this book, the "business" of
proposal writing and implementation is discussed. Proposal
writing is a type of business in which one gets better
through practice and appropriate feedback. If you have never
written a proposal before, you may feel it is a daunting
task. However, it is a task that can be learned.
Nowadays, computers are nearly indispensable both as aids
to writing proposals and as tools for carrying out the work
specified in a proposal. Thus, if you are going to write
proposals and implement programs based upon them, you will
probably need to use computers for several of the following
- Writing, Publication, and Presentation
A word processor and other aids to writing are
exceedingly useful in developing grant proposals. Desktop
publication and desktop presentation (perhaps in a
multimedia environment) are both important to the grant
writer and grant Project Director.
Accounting, record-keeping, and communicating are
among the many possible uses of technology in carrying
out the administrative requirements of a
A spreadsheet program is a very useful tool in
developing a proposal budget. (Other uses for
spreadsheets will be discussed later.) In addition, a
spreadsheet program or other computer software is useful
in tracking and adhering to a project's budget.
- Finding Grant Sources
The References section of this book identifies a
number of electronic sources for grant-related
information. You may be particularly interested in
Resources for Grant Writers and GrantsNet, which provide
general information about grants. If you are interested
in federal grants, check out the Catalog of Federal
Domestic Assistance (CFDA). The CFDA is a comprehensive
listing of all federal sources of grants. The printed
copy is about 1,000 pages long.
A computer is useful in doing the research needed to develop a grant proposal. Increasingly, library research is being done online. For example, you may want to use the Educational Resources Information Center (see http://www.eric.ed.gov/ ). Quoting from this Website:
The Education Resources Information Center (ERIC), sponsored by the Institute of Education Sciences (IES) of the U.S. Department of Education, produces the worlds premier database of journal and non-journal education literature. The ERIC online system provides the public with a centralized ERIC Web site for searching the ERIC bibliographic database of more than 1.1 million citations going back to 1966. More than 107,000 full-text non-journal documents (issued 1993-2004), previously available through fee-based services only, are now available for free. ERIC is moving forward with its modernization program, and has begun acquiring materials for addition to the database.
Computers can be used in a project to gather and analyze data and report results. They are also useful in carrying out two types of project evaluation--formative and summative--which are described in Chapter 8.
In a project involving instruction, computers can be a
useful teaching aid. The uses may vary from preparing and
presenting instructional material to having the project
participants learn to use computer facilities.
A person writing educational technology proposals needs
to know how to use computers in writing and implementing
proposals as well as know about the technology specifically
relevant to the proposal being written. For example, suppose
your main area of expertise is special education. There is a
great deal of knowledge about uses of computer-related
technology in special education. Thus, if you are going to
write grant proposals in this area, you will need expertise
in special education as well as in computers and special
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One of the best ways to learn how to write successful
proposals to a particular funding agency is to study a
number of examples of recent winning proposals written to
that agency. Many funding agencies publish brief summaries
of proposals they have funded. However, it is not
particularly easy to obtain complete copies of funded
proposals. People who write winning proposals tend to feal
that their proposals are valuable property (an intellectual
property) that they may want to draw upon in future
proposals. Also, proposals often contain financial data
(such as salaries of people) that the proposal writers do
not want to make public.
Moreover, there are many different sources of resources.
Even if you cannot obtain complete examples of recently
funded proposals from specific organizations you are
targeting may not be available, you can still read a number
of other proposals. For example, if you are involved with a
school district, it has probably submitted a variety of
proposals and may be willing to share them with you. If you
are involved with a college or university, it probably
maintains a file of successful proposals.
Formal proposals usually share many common characteristics. Thus, after you read a few proposals, you will begin to see some general patterns emerging. Appendices B, C, D, and E provide examples of complete proposals. You may want to browse through these proposals to get an idea of what complete proposals look like.
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Each chapter in this book ends with a section describing
a few activities. You can work on them individually or with
other people interested in obtaining resources for
educational technology. Even if you do not write "answers"
to these questions, it is worthwhile to reflect on the
questions and the answers that come to mind.
- Analyze your current level of knowledge and skills in
using a computer as an aid to writing proposals. Pay
particular attention to your uses of computers for
writing, desktop publishing, and developing budgets.
- Analyze your current level of knowledge about using a
computer to implement a project. What are your strengths
and weaknesses in this area? What are you doing to
address your weaknesses? How might you build on your
strengths to obtain a funding advantage in your
- Many funding agencies restrict vitae to two pages.
(This suggests that many people who write proposals have
vitae that are far longer than two pages.) Your vita
provides evidence of your qualifications to direct a
project. Analyze your personal strengths and weaknesses
as a potential Project Director. How are these strengths
and weaknesses reflected in your vita? Revise and
redesign your vita so that it better emphasizes the
strengths you bring to the specific projects you would
like to have funded.
- Suppose you were going to write a grant proposal in
the field of computer technology and (name a field). For
example, you might be interested in computers and art,
computers and math, computers and science, or computers
and special education. Analyze your current level of
knowledge about computer use in a field that interests
- Proposals usually have due dates. People who write
proposals often find that they are working very long
hours in order to make the deadline due dates. Are you
good at completing your work on time?
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