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Grants: Contracts Manual - Section 2

Proposal Development

2.1 Proposal Development

Please click on the link above for guidance on proposal development.

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2.2 Finding Information about Grant Opportunities

If you’re interested in seeking external funds for your research interests or for special programs, you should first contact the Director of Sponsored Programs, telephone: 912.344.2596.

She can direct you to a number of sources for help in identifying funding sources for your project. As a rule of thumb, look for public funding first. Many private foundations will only consider your application after you show that you have exhausted all possible sources of federal and state funding.

Suggested Resources


Annual Register of Grants Support.Indianapolis: Marquis Academic Media. This listing provides general information on federal programs and private foundation support. Listings by subject with useful indices, are included. Published annually, it can be found in Lane Library. (Call number: REF AS911.A2 A67)

Bauer, David G. The "How To" Grants Manual. New York: MacMillan. A discussion of techniques for obtaining grants from government and private sources, with guidance on how to identify potential sponsors and write proposals. A copy is available in the OSP and in Lane Library: (Call number: HG177.B38 1988).

Bauer, David G. Winning Grants: A Systematic Approach for Higher Education. Ten part video series. A look at the first tape will give you an overview of the entire series. (Lane Library Call number: Videocassette 775.)

GrantSearch databaseA database of federal and private funding sources. Access the database through the OSP Web page: You w.ill need a username and password the first time you access the database. Call the OSP for details.

Grants Resource Center (GRC). The monthly GRC Deadlines reviews all federal and private grant programs with deadlines occurring three months hence. Biweekly GRC Bulletins abstract the Federal Register and Commerce Business Daily. Weekly GRC NSF/NIH Bulletins abstract deadlines at the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health. GRC Publications are available through the OSP Web site or via e-mail distribution lists. Separate distribution lists are maintained for:

Deadlines, Table of Contents
Deadlines, Arts/Humanities/International
Deadlines, Education, Human and Community Development
Deadlines, Health/Mental Health
Deadlines, Science and Engineering
NSF/NIH Bulletins

Contact the OSP for more information.

Krebs, Arlene. The Distance Learning Funding Sourcebook. A guide to foundation, corporate, and government support for telecommunications and the news media. Fourth edition. Kendall/Hunt Publishing.

Public Sector

Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA).Washington, DC: Government Printing Office. Describes federal programs, including purposes, eligibility, appropriations, and information contacts. A searchable CFDA can be accessed through the OSP Web page.

Commerce Business Daily (CBD). The federal government publishes most contract opportunities in the CBD. A searchable CBD can be accessed through the OSP Web page. The Federal Register (FR)This publication contains official government program regulations (proposed and final), announcements of deadlines, funding criteria, etc. It is published each business day. A searchable FR can be accessed through the OSP Web page.

FEDIX (basic service) and FEDIX Opportunity AlertThis database retrieval service provides selected information from several federal agencies, such as the Department of Energy, the Office of Naval Research, Federal Aviation Administration, and NASA. It is particularly helpful in listing federal agency opportunities for minorities. It also contains the Department of Energy’s listing of available equipment that is updated monthly.

Information about Specific Programs. Guidelines and application materials for some of the most broadly accessible programs are also kept on file in the OSP. Most of this information is accessible via the OSP Web page. In many cases you can download or print the program announcements, reports, and forms. Some sites give access to "smart-forms".

NIH Guide for Grants and ContractsThis is a weekly listing of dated and ongoing program announcements from the National Institutes of Health. It has no fixed publication schedule and is available through the NIH home page. You can subscribe to an e-mail version of either the full text or the table of contents only.

National Science Foundation Electronic Custom NewsService. To access this e-mail alert service, go to and click on custom news service.

Private Sector

Note: The Foundation Center is a national organization, supported by foundations, which provides comprehensive information on foundation giving patterns. The center publishes a number of reference directories and books about foundations, maintains several databases and has staff available to answer specific questions. The closest Foundation Center Cooperating Collections are located at:

Atlanta-Fulton Public Library
Ivan Allen Department
1 Margaret Mitchell Square
Atlanta, GA 30303
South Carolina
Charleston County Public Library
404 King Street
Charleston, SC 29403
Jacksonville Public Library
Business, Science & Industry Dept.
122 North Ocean Street
Jacksonville, FL 32202

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2.3 What is Appropriate for Federal Support?

The following is reprinted from an AASCU Grants Resource Center handout of the same title.

The federal government, faced with the task of allocating its resources among an infinite number of competing demands, must focus in a few high priority areas that Congress and/or the executive branch determine to be worthy of national attention and support. In determining whether a project is appropriate for federal funding or is more likely to be supported by state, local or private sources, it is important to examine the project’s activities and expected results in light of the basic goals of federal grant programs. Despite their number and diversity, virtually all of these programs are designed to advance national policy objects in one or more of the following areas:

Response to National Needs: activities that serve a major public policy purpose identified by Congress or the executive branch by contributing to the solution of a particular social, economic or public health problem.

Demonstration of New Approaches: experimental or demonstration projects to test new methods or techniques that, if successful in one setting, can be replicated elsewhere. Projects of this nature must represent unique or innovative approaches and include well-defined plans for evaluation and dissemination of project results.

Assistance to Underserved Populations: projects that serve certain groups or individuals -- members of minority groups, the handicapped or, in some instances, women -- who have special needs that have been neglected by federal, state or local governments in the past.

Advancement of Knowledge: support for research that will advance the state of knowledge in a particular discipline or yield applications that will help the funding agency to carry out its assigned mission.

Infrastructure Development: within this broad category, the government assists organizations or institutions that represent major national resources or contribute in some way to achieving important public purposes. It is important to note that the government does not fund these organizations solely because of their intrinsic merit rather, their activities must be linked to the advancement of broad policy goals, such as increasing public exposure to the arts and/or expanding the base of trained scientific manpower.

Projects that cannot be related in some way to at least one of these broad public purposes are not likely to qualify for support at the national level, regardless of their intrinsic merit. Activities inappropriate for federal funding are those that:

Such projects are likely to be viewed as institutional or local concerns or commercial ventures, which should be funded from the university’s operating budget or supported by those who would directly benefit.

Before concluding that the federal government is an appropriate sponsor, prospective applicants should think through their projects in relation to both these broad government goals and to the stated purposes and priorities of the specific grant programs that seem most appropriate to the activity. A strong and clear link between government purposes and project activities will significantly enhance the competitiveness of a proposal. If this link is absent, proposers should explore state or local sources of support, if appropriate, or bring their projects to the early attention of the appropriate university administrators in the hope that they can be included in plans for the institution’s future development.

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2.4 Travel Support

The following is adapted from an AASCU Grants Resource Center handout of the same title.

One of the most frequently asked questions facing a sponsored programs office is where to find funds for faculty travel. The answer varies depending on the specifics of the request.

It is important to keep in mind that a federal agency will support travel only as it relates to the agency’s basic mission. In general, travel is supported because it contributes to an individually funded research project, because it helps to strengthen the national or international infrastructure of science, or because it furthers international understanding.

A number of factors limit the federal government’s ability to provide direct support for faculty travel: line items for travel support would be particularly susceptible to cuts in times of tight budgets and a large number of individual awards would be cumbersome and costly to administer. As a result, agencies generally support travel indirectly, either through a research project grant or through grants to sponsoring organizations, which in turn make awards to individuals.


Travel related to a funded project (e.g. for field work) is an allowable cost on most research grants. Agencies can easily justify the allocation of funds for travel in this context, since the project has been peer-reviewed and judged worthy of support.

Grants specifically for research in foreign countries are awarded by the Council for International Exchange of Scholars (with funds provided by the United States Information Agency) and by such organizations as the International Research and Exchanges Board and the Committee on Scholarly Communication with the People’s Republic of China.

Certain agencies, notably the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health, have programs that provide funding specifically for travel and other activities needed to develop collaborative projects with scientists in other countries.

A limited number of programs provide grants that support only the travel component of a research project, but with funding decisions based on the merit of the overall research proposed. Examples include the National Endowment for the Humanities’ Travel to Collections program and certain CIES programs. Grants-in-Aid from the American Council of Learned Societies may also be used for travel expenses related to a specific research project in progress.

Fellowships for research at government laboratories and at various centers for advanced study may include travel to the lab or center as part of the award.

Educational and Cultural Exchanges The Council for International Exchange of Scholars also awards grants for university lecturing in over 100 countries, while the U.S. Department of Education operates a number of programs for teachers who wish to enhance their familiarity with foreign cultures and improve their teaching ability by participating in seminars and other exchange programs.


Travel to attend a scientific or disciplinary meeting is also an allowable cost on a research grant, if attendance at the meetings or conferences will enhance the investigator’s capability to perform the research, plan extensions of it or disseminate its results.

Support for conferences is generally provided through grants to a sponsoring organization for a particular meeting or for meetings in a particular field or discipline. These organizations may then make awards for travel support of meeting participants. In addition to this direct support for conferences, NEH also annually awards "regrant" funds to the American Council of Learned Societies for travel grants to humanists. Participants in humanities conferences should apply to ACLS for support. In a similar fashion, the National Science Foundation provides support to the NATO Institutes, which in turn provide travel support from the organization running the meeting, rather than directly from a federal agency.

No programs provide direct support for travel to a meeting by non-speakers, for fairly obvious reasons. Lacking sufficient criteria to weigh competing requests, agencies would find it difficult to assess who should be funded and program officers would be susceptible to criticisms of supporting their cronies. Furthermore, the amount of funds available even in the best of times (certainly not now!) would be minuscule in relation to the total need.


Private foundations face many of the same constraints mentioned above and are not generally a promising source of support for individual faculty travel requests, with the exception of those foundations that run specific international program competitions (for example, the Japan Foundation or the Pacific Cultural Foundation). Foundations with regional or local affiliations/interests might be more likely to contribute to an internal faculty development fund, which in turn could support individual faculty travel.


Please keep in mind that, like all programs, travel grant applications take six to nine months for processing and review and, in the case of bilateral programs, sometimes longer.

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