Tips and Training


  • Budgets and Budget Narratives [date TBD]
  • Overview of grant-seeking for new faculty (first through third year) [date TBD]
  • The Grants Checklist Explained [date TBD]
  • Rat Chat (quarterly lunchtime drop-in discussions) [date TBD]


Be strategic. Start with smaller grants, which can help establish your credibility for later, larger grants. Consider grant applications as a way to build your professional identity. Working on a grant can connect you to others in your field, or to community partner agencies, leading to potential collaborations. Writing a grant and preparing a complete proposal helps you think through your research aims, how fulfilling them benefits both you and the college. Even if your proposal is not funded, going through the process signals your professional commitment.

Contact a program officer to discuss your project. This document, "Can We Talk?," contains tips for preparing before you call a National Science Foundation program officer.

Be prepared for rejection, and develop resilience. Grants are a competitive business and your proposal may not be funded upon first submission. Many grantors provide reviewers’ comments; always request these, use them to revise your application, and resubmit.

"What to do when your grant is rejected” (Nature, Feb. 18, 2020)

Read the funding opportunity announcement carefully. Note the deadline date, time (including time zone), formatting requirements and required method of submission.

Follow all directions. Grant proposals have been returned without review because they do not adhere to the funder’s guidelines for things like font style and size, page length, margin width, specific headers and footers, page numbering, etc. Address the review criteria, answer questions in order, and provide required attachments.

Don’t reinvent the wheel. Check our Forms and Sample Documents in Box or contact Lydia Spencer if you need sample documents, boilerplate language, community statistics (e.g., Census data), and the like. Colleagues or your department chair are likely to have sample or standard documents and grant proposal examples they will share.

Colleagues and your department chair are your best first reviewers. Be sure your chair knows about your proposal and supports your project before you discuss it with or submit it to Grants and Foundations Manager Lydia Spencer. Ask other faculty members who have experience being on grant review panels to read your draft.

Don’t overlook the value of non-expert reviewers. Our grants staff, your friends and other civilians can judge your proposal’s readability and clarity.

Become a reviewer yourself. You will gain insight into how proposals are evaluated and scored.

Proofread. Mistakes affect how reviewers see your proposal. Run a spelling check, double-check all math, use neat and consistent formatting, and avoid typos.