Guidelines for Submission of Grant Proposals
For additional information, please see the Corporate and Foundations Relations web page.
Carleton College encourages its faculty to be active and creative within their disciplinary and interdisciplinary fields, and we encourage faculty to apply for externally funded grants to support research, creative work, and scholarly activities. Preference for internal grants will be given to faculty who have applied for external grants. Christopher Tassava in Corporate & Foundation Relations can help with any aspect of seeking external grant support, from researching possible funders to preparing applications.
Because virtually all external grant activities have an impact on others at the College, we ask that you inform and consult with the appropriate Carleton people early in the grant process, including at a minimum your department chair, Fernán Jaramillo in the Dean of the College Office, and Christopher Tassava in Corporate & Foundation Relations. (See below for more information on the process – and required approvals from these and other personnel). You can talk with them, and other colleagues, to discuss your ideas and plans, to identify funders, to talk through grantseeking strategies, or to refine proposals. To help you organize the process and assure the Dean of the College Office that you've made appropriate consultations, you must submit an External Proposal Approval Form for each proposal (available on the web here, or from staff in Corporate and Foundation Relations).
The first and foremost recommendation for writing a good grant proposal is to be sure to allow yourself ample time. To prepare the strongest proposal, you will not only need to meet with appropriate people, but to write, circulate (perhaps among several readers), and revise rough drafts of your proposal (which might include a budget as well as other ancillary documents). As part of the proposal development process, you will need to gather necessary signatures on the approval form. Most often proposals are submitted online, but occasionally you may have to make several copies of your proposal for mailing to the granting agency to meet the deadline for applications. All of these steps take time, so be sure to plan for them. It is not unusual for an applicant to need several months to conceive, develop, and submit a viable grant proposal.
Though the proposal-development process necessarily varies according to the format of the proposal, the applicants’ available time, the complexity of the proposed project, and numerous other factors, several steps are common to all applications submitted by Carleton faculty.
- Talk with the chair of your department and with other colleagues to gather suggestions about external support in general, about experience with specific funders, and about institutional or departmental implications of your project. Corporate and Foundation Relations can also provide information on Carleton faculty who have received grants from various funders of interest.
- Next, clear your project with the proper administrators, including your chair and Fernán Jaramillo, Associate Dean of the College (x4311), as early as possible. Describe what you intend to do and how your planned project relates to your long-term career development as a teacher and as a scholar, as well as how it connects with other programs and activities of the College. Consider questions such as whether your proposal will require new library materials, computers, or other equipment; how it will affect the curriculum of the College; how it will affect staffing in your department and/or interdisciplinary program (if you are involved in an interdisciplinary program, you need also to discuss your plans with its director). Additionally consider whether the proposal requires institutional financial support, as some proposals call for matching funds, and/or time away from teaching or other duties. Because of these factors, both your departmental chair and Dean Jaramillo must formally approve your proposal (via the External Proposal Approval Form) prior to submission. After receiving the approvals of your department and the Dean’s Office, you may also need to secure other approvals on the External Proposal Approval Form prior to submitting the proposal.
- Barb Fowler, Assistant Comptroller in the Business Office, must review all grant proposal budgets to federal agencies and should review all proposals that require the College to serve as fiscal agent for your grant. The College serves as fiscal agent for most grants except for some individual research projects funded by private foundations. If you apply for a grant that includes salary, you should be aware of implications for fringe benefits and taxes, about which Barbara Fowler can provide some information. Your budget may need to include funds to cover salary and benefits, with different rates applied for academic year and for summer. When preparing your budget, be sure to consider costs for library materials, computer, furniture, and remodeling. The Business Office has created a budget template to assist you in this process.
- Beverly Nagel, Dean of the College, must approve all proposals to federal agencies (NSF, NIH, NEH, etc.) as well as certain proposals to other funders (who typically specify this requirement in their guidelines). Her approval authorizes CFR to submit the application on behalf of the College.
- Christopher Tassava in Corporate and Foundation Relations must approve all proposals except those submitted to federal agencies. There may be some relationship between a foundation and the College of which you should be aware, or the foundation may impose certain restrictions, such as a limit to the number of Carleton proposals it will accept in a year.
- The Office of Institutional Research and Assessment should provide help with the assessment or evaluation activities now required in many applications.
- Fred Rogers, Vice President and Treasurer, must approve plans to create or remodel spaces, to purchase significant equipment, or to use College resources to match the grant.
- Janet Scannell, Chief Technology Officer, should approve proposals that include significant information-technology infrastructure (hardware or software) or resources (ITS staff, network access, etc.).
- Elisabeth Haase, Manager of Environmental Health & Safety Compliance, should be consulted when the proposal may raise concerns about environmental health & safety
- In writing the proposal, you should seek the assistance of colleagues at the College and elsewhere. In addition, staff in the Corporate and Foundation Relations Office will be pleased to assist with reviewing, editing, developing a budget, and proofreading your proposal. Note: If you plan to apply for a federal grant from the National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Endowment for the Arts, or another federal organization, please contact CFR as soon as you begin working on your grant. Federal grants typically involve heavy time commitments for administrative staff, and always require formal submission by CFR as an agent of the College.
- If you are applying for a Carleton-administered grant from a federal agency or foundation, you must read and sign the “Compliance & Disclosure Form for Grant Applications to the Federal Government” (in addition to the External Proposal Approval Form), which addresses federal requirements such as financial conflict of interest issues, human or animal subjects involvement, and responsible conduct of research. Please read, complete, and sign this Disclosure Form when completing the Approval Form itself.
- Submission of an application typically occurs over the web, though some funders do still require the submission of paper proposals. Corporate and Foundation Relations can help with any aspect of the proposal-submission process, from preparing multiple copies of proposals to handling electronic submissions. Owing to the time-consuming nature of these tasks, some lead time – at least a few days – is desirable.
- After submitting your proposal, give one complete copy of your proposal (including all supporting documents) and the approval form to Corporate and Foundation Relations.
- Please report on the outcome of your proposal to the Dean of the College and the Office of Corporate and Foundation Relations. If your proposal is not successful, Corporate and Foundation Relations can try to help you identify alternative funders.
- If your grant involves several faculty, grant management and coordination procedures need to be set up and agreed upon. A grant operations committee should be set up and a meeting held before the grant activities commence to ensure smooth management and reporting.
- Submitting reports on the use of grant funds and the progress of projects is the responsibility of the project director (or grant manager, if a grant operations committee is formed). Corporate and Foundation Relations will be pleased to remind you of obligations and to assist in preparing reports. The Business Office will assist in the preparation of financial reports.