Obtaining Resources Home Page

From the Publisher


Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7

Chapter 8

Chapter 9

Chapter 10

Chapter 11

Chapter 12

Chapter 13

Appendix A

Appendix B

Appendix C

Appendix D

Appendix E


Index (Search Engine)

Moursund's Websites

Chapter 1: Introduction

It is easy to write a funding proposal. However, not all proposals get funded!

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

Learning to Write Proposals

A Focus on Technology in Education

Educational Technology and Change

Resources for Educational Technology

Roles of Computers in the Proposal Business

Sample Proposals



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.

Dear Dad:
No mon.
No fun.

Your Son


Dear Son:

So Sad.
Too Bad.

Your Dad

Figure 1.1. A very simple funding proposal and its response.

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 agency.

Dear Mom:
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?

Love …

Figure 1.2. A higher quality funding proposal.

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Learning to Write Proposals

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 again."

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 of proposals.

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 them.

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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 proposals.

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 system.

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 "hot" area.

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 categories.

  • Research

    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 the future.

  • Evaluation

    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 project.

  • 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 proposal.

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Educational 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 technology.

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 system.

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 educational change.

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Resources for Educational Technology

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 voting.

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 education.

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 resources.
  • Develop technology-oriented partnerships with business and industry.
  • Develop a school bond proposal that provides money for hardware, software, staff development, and other technology needs.
  • 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 interest.
  • Examine the educational technology holdings of your school or community library. If these holdings are inadequate, work with the librarian to acquire appropriate materials.
  • 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 member.
  • 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 purposes:

  • 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.

  • Administration

    Accounting, record-keeping, and communicating are among the many possible uses of technology in carrying out the administrative requirements of a project.

  • Budgeting

    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.

  • Research

    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 world’s 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.

  • Instruction

    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 education.

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Sample Proposals

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.

  1. 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.
  2. 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 field?
  3. 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.
  4. 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 you.
  5. 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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