Competitive proposals require that PIs/PDs commit sufficient time for project design and development; literature review; team/partner assembly; funding source selection; and proposal writing, review and improvement. It takes roughly 90 to 180 hours to write a proposal, but three to six months to develop a winning design and plan.

Proposal Submission
SPREE is authorized to submit research and sponsored program proposals on behalf of the University after ensuring

  • Leadership has approved proposal submission per the Grant Approval Form

  • SPREE has received and approved the final proposal budget per established timelines

  • SPREE has received a submission-ready version of the final proposal per established timelines.


Proposal Submission Timelines

Timelines for proposal preparation and submission exist to

  • Promote the PI’s/PD’s likelihood of winning awards
  • Appropriately steward scarce University resources
  • Ensure SPREE has sufficient time to support success

The table below contains deadlines that represent the minimum amount of time prior to submission deadline that materials should be sent to SPREE by the PI/PD. Please note that the most competitive proposals typically arise from a lengthier timetable that maximizes opportunities for feedback, answering questions, and making needed revisions. SPREE commits to returning revisions and comments on all materials within 3 days of receiving them. 

Proposal Preparation and Submission Steps Time Prior to Submission Deadline
Draft budget to SPREE 3 weeks
Draft narrative to SPREE 3 weeks
Other proposal components to SPREE (facilities statement, biosketches, letters of support, current and pending support, etc.) 3 weeks
Revised narrative to SPREE 2 weeks
Final other proposal components to SPREE 2 weeks

Grant Approval Form and Cost Share Approval Form (if applicable) submitted

1 week
Final budget forms submitted 1 week 
All components submission ready to SPREE 2 days
SPREE submit proposal 1 day
  Grant submission deadline

Should the PI/PD fail to meet the established deadlines, proposal support will cease and the grant will not be submitted, absent extenuating circumstances. In such cases, those circumstances will be reviewed by the appropriate Dean (or their equivalent) to determine whether to move forward with submission.


Proposal Components

With some variance in wording and detail, grant applications tend to follow a similar structure. Below you will find a brief description of common proposal sections, with links to samples for each, to assist you in preparing your application.

The cover page template is often provided in the grant application package. It is the locus for factual details about the project, such as the Principal Investigator/Project Director’s name and contact information, the project title, and the University’s address as well as its federal tax identification number and congressional district.

Frequently Requested Information

The abstract or project summary is a one-page document summarizing your proposal that is suitable for public distribution. While minor variations exist, funders typically ask that the abstract contain basic grantee information, a brief project summary, and a list of intended outcomes. 

Abstract Sample

NIH Project Summary Template

NSF Project Summary Template

The statement of need describes the problem you are proposing to solve or the question you are aiming to answer. It presents evidence of the problem’s existence, the extent of its reach, and who it affects and how. The statement of need connects the problem to the funder’s mission and goals, and lays the groundwork for your proposed solution to shared concerns. 

Statement of need sample

The program plan or project design offers a solution to the problem you have laid out. It describes the interventions you will implement so that the problem is minimized or negated, and the steps you will take to meet your goals. It should offer distinct and measurable contributions to the larger conversations/advances in your field or program area. Winning proposals typically offer ideas or interventions that:

  • Have not been done before, but build on lessons learned and are supported by literature
  • Have a strong operational plan connecting goals, objectives, timelines and staffing
  • Define outcomes, measures and methods to evaluate the impact of sponsor fund

This section of a proposal typically contains a logic model. A logic model conveys the goals, objectives, activities, outputs, and outcomes associated with your project.

  • Goals are long-term aims you want to accomplish. They are the nirvana where your problem no longer exists/your question has been answered. Goals may include current benchmarks and measures of success.
  • Objectives represents attainable steps to achieving goals. Objectives should be Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Timebound.
  • Activities are the means to achieving each objective; they are the work to be done.
  • Outputs are the direct product of your activities, the change that occurs because of your program.
  • Outcomes are the measurable changes that result from your work.

Logic model sample

The management plan describes the roles and responsibilities of those involved in the project, including the PI/PD and all other supporting individuals/organizations/offices (you may be asked to include an organizational chart depicting project management). This section provides a timeline for implementing project components. You may be asked to display this visually in a work plan.

Work plan sample

The evaluation plan describes how you will assess the impact of your project, and should include benchmarks to monitor progress toward meeting specific objectives. The plan describe what data will be collected when; data collection methods and instruments; and how the data will be analyzed and reported. The plan should identify the internal or external individual or organization that has agreed to serve as evaluator for the project and describe their qualifications.

Evaluation plan sample

This section documents how you plan to share project outcomes and products to extend lessons learned and knowledge gained to other programs, institutions, and populations. Examples include scholarly papers, stakeholder reports, conferences, etc. This section also describes plans to maintain program interventions and impacts beyond the grant period. 

Dissemination plan sample

Sustainability plan sample

This section of the proposal demonstrates that your funding request is based on reasonable cost estimates and describes the types of in-kind support — the offices, facilities, systems, equipment and supplies — available to carry out the activities associated with the project. For the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH), this separate document is known as a Facilities & Other Resources document.  

Adequacy of Resources Sample

NSF Facilities Sample

NIH Facilities Sample

The budget section indicates amounts requested to fulfill activities of the project within the categories given. All budgets must ensure revenues are sufficient to cover project costs and expenses are allowable, allocable, reasonable and consistent with how costs are treated across St. Kate’s. The budget justification provides the rationale for each budget item, describing how amounts were calculated. The budget and proposal narrative should be mutually reinforcing; a reader should never be surprised by finding any line item in the budget not referred to in the narrative plan of operations.

One-year budget template

Multi-year budget template

Budget justification sample

Cost share commitment form

Letters indicating support for your project by University leadership demonstrate institutional backing. You may also need to include letters of commitment from internal or external collaborators indicating their promised contributions to the project, or letters of support from relevant stakeholders in your community.

University letter of support sample

Project directors, principal investigators, and all other key personnel involved in the project will need to submit current resumes. For applications to the federal government, such as the National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH), these are called biographical sketches, and must follow the format prescribed by the awarding agency.

NIH Biosketch Format

NSF Biosketch Format

St. Kate's Faculty NSF Biosketch Sample

St. Kate’s Faculty NIH Biosketch Sample

For some National Science Foundation (NSF) and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) grant applications, as well some other awards, you will need to include a data management plan (DMP). The DMP should describe how the PI(s) will manage and disseminate data generated by the project in sufficient detail to enable evaluation of the plan (and past performance if any) during the merit review process.

Data management plan tool 

Data management plan 1 sample

Data management plan 2 Sample

Data management plan 3 Sample

NSF Data management plan template

National Endowment for the Humanities Data Management Plan

Depending on the funder, you may be asked to provide additional information about the University, such as non-profit tax status.

Frequently requested information

501(c)3 IRS determination letter

Articles of incorporation

Board of trustees list

Proposal Development Checklists