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This post is one of a series about what goes into proposals that win grants. Its topic is cover letters. Its context is the United States of America.

 

Sometimes an applicant must send a brief cover letter or a letter of transmittal with its proposal – particularly when seeking a grant from a private foundation. Such a letter introduces the proposal to a potential funder. It creates a first impression among those who receive and process proposals and sometimes also among those who read and rank them.

 

Tips

 

In preparing a compelling and cogent cover letter, be sure to:

  1. Use organizational letterhead
  2. Use the grant maker’s correct and complete address
  3. Address it to a specific person
  4. Insert a reference line before a salutation line
  5. Keep the letter short (one page only)
  6. Use standard margins and a standard 12-point font
  7. Use left-justified text – not center-justified text
  8. Send it from the applicant’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO)
  9. Send it signed by a human hand and in blue ink, when possible
  10. Include prepared by and enclosure lines below the signature
  11. Proofread it to ensure that it is error-free

 

In developing the cover letter, use up to four paragraphs to:

  1. Open by describing the organization, community, and target population
  2. Describe the undertaking and two of its major selling points
  3. Explain the reasons for applying for a grant
  4. Close with a thank-you and contact information

 

In all cases, always follow each specific grant maker’s instructions for a cover letter. If a grant maker does not want to get one, then do not send one. Government grant makers are far less apt to expect, require, or accept a cover letter than are private grant makers.

 

 

This post is one of a series about what goes into proposals that win grants. Its topic is research-based rationales. Its context is the United States of America.

 

During the past decade (if not longer), more and more competitive grant programs – both public and private – have required applicants to describe the scientific and/or statistical basis for selecting the strategies they plan to use in their projects. Consequently, many more grant makers and programs now require applicants to document the authorities they cite in a proposal narrative.

 

Tips

 

Citations to research most frequently must appear in a plan of action or program design, of which one element will be a research-based rationale. On occasion, they may occur elsewhere as well.

 

In making research references, ordinarily it proves prudent to:

  1. Cite recent work and favor materials published within the past five years
  2. Cite older work only if it was a pivotal or watershed event when first published
  3. Provide concise citations in standard formats
  4. Adopt and use a consistent citation format
  5. Select a citation format consistent with a funder’s instructions or requirements
  6. Give precisely as much citation detail as a given funder requires, if it specifies a style or format
  7. Cite only references actually used in the proposal narrative
  8. Cite one or more of the funder’s publications, if any is available

 

Choose a citation format and use it consistently. Among the more commonly used citation formats are:

  1. American Psychological Association Publication Manual (APA)
  2. Chicago Manual of Style (CMS)
  3. Modern Language Association Style Manual (MLA)

 

Links to these style manuals, as well as to many other writing tools, are found at Style Guides (Collection).

 

This post is one of a series about what goes into proposals that win grants. Its topic is proposal abstracts. Its context is the United States of America.

 

An abstract is a summary of key elements of a grant proposal. Nearly every funder’s proposal solicitation requires an abstract or an executive summary. Funders’ instructions to applicants often specify the topics that it must cover. Many funders also indicate the abstract’s required length and format.

 

Tips

 

Elements required in the content of an abstract often include:

  1. Population served and its location
  2. Objectives and strategies
  3. Partner organizations (if any)
  4. Anticipated outcomes or expected results
  5. Amount of funding requested
  6. Applicant’s contribution of funding

 

Instructions for the format of an abstract often include:

  1. Number of pages – usually one page
  2. Type and size of font – often 12-point Arial, Calibri, or Times New Roman
  3. Length – often limited to 200 to 250 words
  4. Line spacing – frequently single-spaced throughout (unlike the narrative)
  5. Width of margins – typically one inch on all sides
  6. Proposal identifiers – usually only the project title and program name
  7. Contact information – often for the applicant organization and its primary contact person

 

An abstract can create a strong first impression for proposal reviewers and funding decision makers. Applicants need to set aside enough time to make it compelling and make it count.

 

Write the abstract as one of the last steps in writing the proposal. Write it after finishing the narrative even though abstracts typically precede the narrative in a table of contents.

 

Introduction

This post is about uses of logic models in evaluation. It is one in a series about logic models and competitive grant seeking. Its context is the United States of America. Other posts discuss the uses of logic models throughout proposal planning and project implementation, types of logic models, typical elements in logic models, samples of logic models, and other topics.

 

Outcomes and Outputs

Logic models are versatile tools. Not only are they useful in planning and implementing a proposal, they are just as useful in creating an evaluation design.

 

An outcome is not the same as an output. An output is a product or an event and is reported as a number. An outcome is a logical result of an output. It is reported both as a number (after collecting the data) and a ratio. It may help to think of an output as a means (to an end), and an outcome as an end.

 

Outputs Outcomes
Installed 50 corner streetlights. Reduced intersection traffic accidents by 53%.
Held 6 interdiction workshops. Increased border drug seizures by 71%.
Created 10 classroom blog websites. Increased writing scores by 9%.
Developed 10 science lab lessons. Increased science lab scores by 12%.
Trained 700 program volunteers. Reduced afterschool adult-child ratio by 50%.

 

A logic model for an Evaluation Plan has seven basic elements:

  • Outcome: What do you to happen because of your project?
  • Indicator: What are the observable and measurable behaviors and conditions?
  • Target Audience: What is the specific population to be measured?
  • Data Source: What are the source(s) of information about the behaviors and conditions to be measured?
  • Data Interval: When are data to measure the indicator to be collected?
  • Target: What is the amount of change you desire to occur?
  • Results: What was the actual amount of change as measured using the data collected?

 

The seven elements can be organized in a table:

Desired Outcome Indicator Target Audience Data Source Data Interval Target Results
             
             

 

Examples of a Logic Model for Evaluation

These examples illustrate how to use a logic model in designing an Evaluation Plan.

 

Example 1: Science Education

  • Outcome: Participants will be more proficient in Science.
  • Indicator: Ratio of tested 6th graders who score proficient or higher
  • Target Audience: All 6th graders who participate regularly in the project.
  • Data Source: State-mandated 6thgrade assessments.
  • Data Interval: After test administration in April 2019.
  • Target: 75% or more of 500 participating and tested 6th graders
  • Results: 425 or 86.7% of 490 6th graders scored proficient or higher.

 

Example 2: Violence Prevention

Outcome: Fewer participants will be suspended for fighting in school.

  • Indicator: Ratio of HS students suspended for fighting.
  • Target Audience: All HS students who participate regularly in the project.
  • Data Source: District Title IV suspensions and expulsions reports.
  • Data Interval: After end of each academic ranking period and end of school year.
  • Target: 5% or fewer of 1200 participating high school students.
  • Results: 48 or 4.06% of 1180 high school students were suspended for fighting in school during the school year.

 

Example 3: Literacy Development

  • Outcome: More 6th, 7th, and 8th graders will read for pleasure.
  • Indicator: Ratio of students who read for pleasure during the school year.
  • Target Audience: All 6th, 7th, and 8th graders who participate regularly in the project.
  • Data Source: Surveys of participating students and their parents/guardians.
  • Data Interval: After end of each academic ranking period and end of school year.
  • Target: 65% or more of 900 participating and surveyed middle school students
  • Results: 620 or 71.75% of 864 respondents reported reading for pleasure during the school year.

 

 

 

 

 

Introduction

This post presents an alternative structure for logic models. It is one in a series about logic models and competitive grant seeking. Its context is the United States of America. Other posts discuss the uses of logic models throughout proposal planning and project implementation, types of logic models, typical elements in logic models, samples of logic models, and other topics.

 

Alternative Logic Model Structure

Although their configurations and their labels do vary widely, most logic models have six basic elements. What follows is a second (alternative) structure for the basic elements of a logic model. In it, the first two elements focus on what you plan to do. The others focus on what is to happen both while and after it is done.

 

The National Science Foundation (NSF) presents an instructive alternative structure for analyzing the elements of a basic logic model:

 

Inputs: What resources will be used to support the project?

 

Activities: What are the primary things the project will do or provide?

 

Outputs: How many and what sorts of observable and/or tangible results will be achieved?

 

Short-Term (or Immediate) Outcomes: What will occur as a direct result of the inputs and activities (typically in terms of changes in knowledge, skills, and attitudes)?

 

Mid-Term (or Intermediate) Outcomes: What results should follow from the initial outcomes (typically in terms of changes in behavior, policies, practice?)

 

Long-Term (or Ultimate) Outcomes or Impacts: What results should follow from the initial outcomes (typically stated in terms of changes in broader conditions?)

 

The time flow in a basic logic model reads from left to right [See: W.K. Kellogg Foundation, Logic Model Development Guide (2006), p. 1. These elements can be organized in a six-column table:

 

Inputs Activities Outputs Short-Term Outcomes Mid-Term Outcomes Long-Term Outcomes
           
           

 

Research Performance Model

Not every logic model is strictly linear. Scientific research is an iterative process. A research project has feedback loops between its input and activities, its research design and implementation, and its results and its outputs. In addition, the outputs of one research activity often serve as the inputs for a subsequent activity. Such circuits can repeat until a research project yields reliable results.

 

For more discussion of logic models, readers may want to visit the National Science Foundation’s Advanced Technological Education (ATE), the Southwest Educational Development Laboratory (SEDL), and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s Logic Model Development Guide (2006).

 

Introduction

This post discusses some of the benefits of using logic models throughout proposal planning and project implementation. It is one in a series about logic models and competitive grant seeking. Its context is the United States of America. Other posts discuss the uses of logic models throughout proposal planning and project implementation, types of logic models, typical elements in logic models, samples of logic models, and other topics.

 

Benefits

The varied uses of logic models promise many benefits to grant seekers and proposal planners, as well as to grant makers. Appropriately constructed, a logic model can guide a project or initiative’s lifespan from cradle to grave. As a trans-temporal tool, it can be used to forecast what will be done, monitor what is being done, and then evaluate what has been done.

 

Among the many benefits of using logic models in seeking grants are to:

  • Generate an inventory of what is at hand and what is still needed to carry out a project or initiative
  • Assist in planning a proposal and in monitoring, adjusting, and evaluating subsequent implementation
  • Relate contemplated or anticipated activities to projected outputs and outcomes
  • Clarify how project activities will contribute or are contributing to accomplishing specific objectives
  • Enhance an applicant’s focus on obtaining results through its planned project activities
  • More efficiently and effectively communicate to target audiences a project’s goals, activities, strategies, and intended outcomes
  • Provide project implementers and participants with a clear roadmap for implementation, monitoring, and evaluation
  • Identify sources and uses of data for tracking progress toward target outcomes
  • Provide a single synoptic snapshot of a project’s scope of work and potential significance
  • Facilitate coordination of resources, selection of strategies, and realistic formulation of desired outcomes
  • Create among all stakeholders a shared understanding of and focus on program goals and strategies
  • Build a strong case for how and why a project or initiative is worthy of a funder’s investment in it
  • Communicate key project features to external audiences such as funding agencies, the general public, and legislators
  • Enhance the role and usefulness of monitoring and evaluation as management and learning tools

 

Planning Tool

One useful place to explore the many uses and benefits of logic models is W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s Logic Model Development Guide (2006). As you create your own logic model, always be mindful that other grant makers may define and understand some aspects of logic models quite differently than what you find here. Always defer to the specific funder’s instructions and guidance about using logic models in proposal development and project management.

 

 

Introduction

This post looks at types of logic models. It is one in a series about logic models and competitive grant seeking. Its context is the United States of America. Other posts discuss the uses of logic models throughout proposal planning and project implementation, benefits of logic models, definitions of logic models, typical structures and elements for logic models, samples of logic models, and other topics.

 

Types

Logic models are not all the same. There are at least three basic types, each with its own focus. Logic models can be created as single-focus constructs, or as constructs that combine two or more focuses. The best ones fit and reflect the needs of both the grant seeker and the specific funding opportunity.

 

Theory Models focus on the theory of change that underlies the design and work plan for a project. They are useful for identifying assumptions in selecting strategies and for linking them to activities. They are also useful in linking a research-based rationale to specific action steps.

 

Activities Models tend to focus on the specifics of implementation and the sequencing and coordination of planned activities. They are particularly useful for monitoring implementation and for project management.

 

Outcomes Models try to connect inputs and/or activities with desired results. They also sort outcomes and impacts over time (e.g., short-term, mid-term, and long-term). They are useful for developing plans for evaluation and other purposes related to accountability.

 

The table below sums up each type of model:

Types Key Questions Time Focuses Uses
Theory Why?

How?

Future Selecting strategies

and forecasting

Activities What?

How?

Who?

Present Monitoring

and coordinating

Outcomes So What?

How Well?

Past Evaluation

and reporting

 

For a more complete understanding of logic models, be sure to look for coming posts – particularly those about the structure of logic models and about samples of logic models.

 

 

 

Introduction

This post is about typical elements used in developing logic models. It is one in a series about logic models and competitive grant seeking. Its context is the United States of America. Other posts discuss the uses of logic models throughout proposal planning and project implementation, types of logic models, samples of logic models, and other topics.

 

Basic Elements

Although there is considerable variation in the available literature, most logic models appear to have six basic elements. Two or three of these focus on what an applicant plans to do. The others focus on what is to happen both while and after it is done. What follows is one of many schemas for the basic elements of a logic model.

 

Some of the available literature identifies six elements in a basic logic model (which can be sequenced left to right in a six-column table, as below):

 

Purpose and Context: What is the project’s scope of work? What is its overarching goal? Which specific audiences and systems will be expected to benefit? What problem or need or priority will it address?

 

Inputs or Resources: What resources are already available to do the work (finances, labor, facilities, other assets)? What further resources are needed?

 

Activities: With the available and requested inputs, what project activities will you implement? Over what span of time will you undertake them? In what sequence will they occur?

 

Outputs or Results: What events, products, or services will you deliver to target audiences through the project activities?

 

Participant Outcomes: How will participants’ awareness, knowledge, behavior, skills, or level of functioning change measurably subsequent to the activities and outputs?

 

Contextual Outcomes: How will organizations, operating environments, communities, policies, or other larger contexts change measurably subsequent to the activities and outputs?

 

Depending upon the type of model used (e.g., Theory, Outcomes, Activities) there are many variations in these elements. To get started, readers may want to explore the Southwest Educational Development Laboratory (SEDL) discussion of logic models.

 

Purpose and Context Inputs or Resources Activities Outputs or Results Participant Outcomes Contextual Outcomes

 

For more discussion of logic models, readers may want to visit the Southwest Educational Development Laboratory (SEDL), and the W.K. Kellogg Foundation’s Logic Model Development Guide (2006).

 

 

Introduction

This post presents several definitions of logic models. It is one in a series about logic models and competitive grant seeking. Its context is the United States of America. Other posts discuss the uses of logic models throughout proposal planning and project implementation, types of logic models, typical elements in logic models, samples of logic models, and other topics.

 

Purposes

Applications to competitive grant programs commonly require a logic model. As visual and synoptic depictions, they are useful ways to represent how the parts relate to the whole.

 

There are nearly as many definitions of logic models as there are discrete logic models themselves. Among these definitions’ common aspects are that a logic model is a versatile planning tool, that it is a product of collective inputs, and that it is a simplified graphical representation of more detailed plans described in a proposal narrative.

 

Among the primary purposes of using logic models in proposals are to improve foresight in project planning, to facilitate effective implementation, to focus implementers’ efforts on attaining desired outcomes, and to ensure 360-degree accountability.

 

Definitions

Any online search of logic models soon turns up many explanations of what they are, what they do, and how they look. Among the many discoverable explanations are:

 

“A logic model is normally presented as a one page visual diagram…. It is an important tool that facilitates planning, implementation and evaluation of a project intervention…. There are a variety of formats by which a logic model may be presented…. (Public Safety Canada).”

 

“Typical logic models use table and flow chart formats… to catalogue program factors, activities, and results and to illustrate a program’s dimensions…. (W.K. Kellogg Foundation)“

 

“A logic model is a highly visual method of demonstrating relationships between project resources, activities, outputs, and outcomes (SEDL).”

 

“A key element of the logic model diagram is showing the linkages (via lines joining the various boxes) between the activities and the eventual outcomes/impacts (Public Safety Canada).”

 

IF-THEN Logic

Thinking through a logic model uses an IF-THEN sequential logic of relationships. If certain inputs are available, then certain activities can occur; if the activities occur, then certain outputs can be expected; if certain outputs occur, then certain outcomes are likely over time; and if certain outcomes occur, then the identified needs or problems should change.

 

“Logic models can be useful tools to demonstrate integrated, systemic planning in relation to the achievement of goals and expected outcomes (SEDL).”

 

“Logic models should be a dynamic tool that assists staff in planning, implementation, and assessment efforts (SEDL).”

 

“There is no one ‘best’ logic model ((W.K. Kellogg Foundation)” – except, perhaps, the one that a particular grant maker may require.

 

Introduction

Applications to competitive grant programs commonly require a logic model. Development and use of logic models are common practices in planning projects before seeking a grant. They are also common practices in implementing and evaluating projects after winning a grant.

 

This post looks at typical elements of logic models. It is one in a series about logic models and competitive grant seeking. Its context is the United States of America. Other posts discuss the uses of logic models throughout proposal planning and project implementation, types of logic models, definitions of logic models, samples of logic models, and other topics.

 

Elements

In a compact form, a logic model represents key elements in a proposed Program Design (also called a Work Plan or Plan of Action), which is commonly submitted as part of a competitive grant proposal. Depending upon the specific funding opportunity, a logic model may identify most of these elements, if not all of them:

  1. A program design component
  2. A goal
  3. An objective (usually two or more per goal)
  4. A set of activities and/or strategies (usually two or more per objective)
  5. A timeline (with or without milestones)
  6. A plan for evaluation
  7. An assignment of persons responsible
  8. A budget allocation (representing one or more budget line items)

 

Developing a Logic Model

In creating a logic model for a grant proposal, several elements are typically necessary:

 

Component: Captures the programmatic focus of one or more goal.

Example: Leadership Development

 

Goal: States the broad intention of one or more objectives.

Example: To increase school principals’ skills in leading community engagement.

 

Objective: States the specific focus of effort defined in terms of measurable results.

Example: To increase 80% or more of 80 participating principals’ leadership skills through 10 hours of training in how to implement best practices in community engagement during the 2018-19 school year.

 

Activities: Indicates what the applicant’s staff (and/or its partners) will do to accomplish an objective.

Examples: (1) Organize and conduct a two-day (12-hour) Leadership Retreat. (2) Hold two three-hour follow-up sessions during the project period.

 

Timeline: Specifies when staff will complete the activities for an objective.

Example: Retreat: 08/2018. Follow-up: 12/2018 and 04/2019.

 

Evaluation: Determines whether, and to what degree, an objective is met.

Examples: Attendance, pre-post surveys, principals’ records, and community feedback surveys.

 

Staff Responsible: Identifies who will do the activities, by position title.

Example: Consultants, Professional Development Director, and Internal Evaluator.

 

Budget: Allocates funding to support accomplishing an objective.

Example: Specific amounts allocated to various appropriate cost categories and line items.

 

 

 

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