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The vocabulary of project development is part of the language required for writing successfully funded grant proposals. This set of entries covers words and phrases from O-P.

OBJECTIVE: A time-bound statement, framed in specific and measurable terms, of what an applicant is going to accomplish during a project or initiative; it advances the project or initiative towards attaining its goal or goals. Objectives are indispensable and critical elements in a Plan of Action or a Program Design. Example: Each project year, 90% or more of project participants will demonstrate statistically significant gains (p<.05) in English literacy, as measured by state-mandated assessments.

ORGANIZATION: A generic and non-technical term for a legally established entity that is eligible to seek, manage, and expend a grant award, either alone or in a partnership with one or more other organizations and/or individuals.

ORGANIZATIONAL CHART: A graphic device depicting the staff positions involved in a project or initiative, the flow of communication between and among them, and their connections to other key staff in an organization or a partnership. Many of the positions may be paid using funds other than those of the grant being sought.

ORGANIZATIONAL HISTORY: A brief chronological summation or narrative account of the primary milestones, accomplishments, and unique attributes of an organization.

OUTCOME: The desired and intended quantitative or qualitative end result or consequence of a set of activities undertaken to achieve one or more objectives. Examples: 50% reduction in suspensions; 10% reduction in dropout rate; 25% increase in library holdings; 20% loss of body fat; 5% reduction in residential burglaries.

OUTPUT: A tangible or quantifiable product of an activity. Examples: Four new geography units; ten parental education workshops; six program newsletters; a training manual; a science kit.

PARTICIPANT: Someone directly and actively involved in a project or initiative as one who is served by it or who otherwise benefits from it. Examples: Science teachers; juvenile delinquents; English language learners; third graders; elderly residents.

PARTNER: An individual or organization that contributes resources to a grant-funded project or initiative, often by a formal and legally enforceable agreement delineating responsibilities and commitments between or among the entities involved in it.

PERSONNEL: The persons who provide the human labor to implement or support activities designed to achieve the objectives of a project or initiative. Some or many of the personnel, but seldom all, may be paid for out of grant funds. Also see: Staff.

PLAN OF ACTION: The specific series of activities or steps to be undertaken during a project or initiative, as well as its goals, objectives, timeline, personnel, and resources. Also called a Program Design or a Work Plan.

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATOR: The person who leads or directs a grant-funded research project, particularly in federally funded scientific or medical research grants; also known as a PI. Also see: Project Director.

PROBLEM: The specific reason for a project or initiative, which offers a promising solution to the problem. Example: A dropout rate higher than the state average. Applicants must avoid circular reasoning in defining problems. Example: A lack, an absence, a shortage, or a scarcity, in and of itself, is not a problem; however, one or more of its consequences or effects may be one. Also see: Need.

A later post will cover glossary entries starting with letters P-Z.


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