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Grants 101—How to Apply for a Federal Grant

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This presentation will provide both an overview and a deep dive into best practices for submitting a grant application to the Federal Government. The presenters focus specifically on the Institute of Museum and Library Services Museums for America program which has an annual deadline in November. In addition to general grant-writing tips, they shared specific tips, timelines, and examples to help make this application process more accessible for all eligible Museums.

Grants 101—How to Apply for a Federal Grant

  1. 1. How to Apply for a Federal Grant Ariel Weintraub Associate Director, Institutional Giving, Oakland Museum of California Michelle Seiler-Godfrey Program Development Manager, High Desert Museum Lisa Sasaki Director, Smithsonian Asian Pacific American Center
  2. 2. This Session • Meditation • Writing Exercises • Federal Grants Overview • IMLS Museums for America Grant Narrative: Project Justification, Project Workplan, Project Results • Specific Recommendations for other parts of Grant Proposal • Questions
  3. 3. EXAMPLE: IMLS Museums for America Proposal https://www.imls.gov/grants/available/museums-america
  4. 4. IMLS GRANT NARRATIVE ELEMENTS I. Project Justification WHY? Please tell us in your own words what this project intends to accomplish. Define the need in the community. When applicable, please present data/evidence that documents the significance of the issue. Goals and Objectives Tell us the goals of the project and how they align with your mission, describe the activities you will undertake, indicate the population served. II. Project Description and Workplan WHO WHAT WHERE and HOW? Specify the resources (personnel, partnerships, funding, time, etc.) that will be used, provide a timeline of events as appropriate. III. Project Results and Evaluation HOW? How will you define programmatic success? Describe the evaluation process(es) or method(s) you will use to measure your success.(i.e., pre and post surveys, annual polling, focus groups, etc.).
  5. 5. Project Justification: Goals and Objectives WHY? PROJECT GOAL: The Family Nature Play Room: Creating Space for Early Learners project will meet the needs and interests of local families, both new and repeat visitors, by providing play-based discovery and learning experiences for young children and their adult companions within OMCA’s Gallery of California Natural Sciences. Objectives: • Build staff capacity (both behind-the-scenes and front-of-house) to serve families with young children; • Engage local families, experts and leaders in early childhood and family learning in the conception, development, promotion and evaluation of the project; • Use collections and specimens in new ways to promote family learning and discovery, particularly for children ages 2-5 years old; • Prototype an early childhood space and exhibition components for possible replication within temporary exhibitions or within the Galleries of California Art and History.
  6. 6. Goals and Objectives
  7. 7. Project Results: How to complete that pesky “Evaluation” section Know your “nut” and choose the right tool to crack it!
  8. 8. What Should be the Evaluation Plan? Project Goal: The Family Nature Play Room: Creating Space for Early Learners project will meet the needs and interests of local families, both new and repeat visitors, by providing play-based discovery and learning experiences for young children and their adult companions within OMCA’s Gallery of California Natural Sciences. Objectives: • Build staff capacity (both behind-the-scenes and front-of-house) to serve families with young children; • Engage local families, experts and leaders in early childhood and family learning in the conception, development, promotion and evaluation of the project; • Use collections and specimens in new ways to promote family learning and discovery, particularly for children ages 2-5 years old; • Prototype an early childhood space and exhibition components for possible replication within temporary exhibitions or within the Galleries of California Art and History.
  9. 9. Budget Justification 1. Salaries and Wages The total cost of salaries and wages for this project is $67,562. We are requesting $5,000 in federal funding, and $62,562 will be in cost share. HDM Program Development Manager, Michelle Seiler-Godfrey, will spend 5% of her time on the project. Her rate is $$$$$. This represents $$$$ in cost share. Responsibilities include…. 3. Travel Trip 1. Bend to Denver. HDM staff will travel from Bend, Oregon to Denver, Colorado to meet with evaluation staff at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science. Travelers: HDM Director of Programs, Curator of Education and Program Development Manager Flight: $350/traveler x 3 travelers: $1,050 Lodging: $130/night x 2 nights x 2 rooms: $520 Per Diem: $69/day x 2 days x 3 travelers: $414 Total: $1,984 4. Supplies, Materials and Equipment Indirect Costs  Use the same headings as the IMLS Budget Form.  Address both grant funds and cost share.  Justify how you arrived at the calculations and why these expenses are important to the project.  Should align with your narrative.  Don’t wait until the last minute to write.
  10. 10. EXAMPLE: Large Institution Grant Proposal Schedule DEADLINE December 1 (Veterans Day 11/10, Thanksgiving is November 23-26) By October 30 Development: Forms--SF-424S, Program Info Sheet, Org Profile, Strat Plan Summary, 501c3 Letter and DRAFT Budget Project Director: DRAFT NARRATIVE, Ask for Letters from Partners October 30 to November 6 Development: REVISE NARRATIVE Return to Team Project Team: Provide Updated Resumes by Nov 6 November 9-13: Development: Abstract, Schedule of Completion structured by proposed Activities, Detailed Budget with Project Director, Budget Justification List of Key Project Staff and Consultants, Resumes of Key Project Staff and Consultants Project Team: REVIEW EDITS/ ADD TO PROJECT NARRATIVE (incl. budget, timeline and activities) Nov 15-22 Development: REVISE NARRATIVE #2 THANKSGIVING Nov 27 to Dec 1 Finish ALL Docs and Submit
  11. 11. Timeline Example for Smaller Institution • Meetings with key program staff to develop program (as early as possible/at least 2 months) • Identify partners/consultants (2 months) • Request letters of support from stakeholders (6 weeks) • Draft Narrative with key staff (6-4 weeks) • Draft Budget/Schedule of Completion (4 weeks) • Complete other materials—Strat Plan Summary, Org Profile, List of Key Project Staff, etc. (2 weeks) • Finalize Narrative, Budget, Budget Justification (1 week) • Submission (at least 2 days prior to the deadline)
  12. 12. Advice from a Reviewer DON’T • Try to pull together a fed grant at the last minute • Have multiple “voices” in the narrative • Say you’re the first to do something • Forget to consult with partners, content experts • Skip doing a FULL budget justification DO • Consult with Grant Program Officers • Ask yourself honestly if budget, timeline, objectives are reasonable • Double-check your math • Create a reasonable evaluation plan • Read reviewer feedback, especially if you don’t get the grant
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    Dec. 5, 2019

This presentation will provide both an overview and a deep dive into best practices for submitting a grant application to the Federal Government. The presenters focus specifically on the Institute of Museum and Library Services Museums for America program which has an annual deadline in November. In addition to general grant-writing tips, they shared specific tips, timelines, and examples to help make this application process more accessible for all eligible Museums.

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