Frequently Asked Questions
We are here to help you find funding for your ideas! The Grants Office leads and manages pre- and post-award grant functions for the College and the Educational Foundation, including research of funding opportunities, interpretation of funder and grant guidelines, collaboration with faculty and staff in the development of proposals, coordination of institutional approvals, submission of proposals and applications, award setup for funded proposals, adherence to funders’ requirements, compliance with federal, state, and local regulations and statutes, and proper closeout of grant programs. Since the submission of a grant proposal commits College resources and requires the College to perform certain activities, all grant proposals must be coordinated with the Grants Office.
The Grants Office does not handle grants for students or any other type of student financial aid. Students should contact the Office of Student Financial Aid at https://www.harpercollege.edu/registration/financialaid/index.php.
Grants are an excellent source of funding for expanding or enhancing existing programs and services, piloting new services and programs, and developing new programs and curriculum. Many government agencies and foundations provide funding to institutions of higher education, such as Harper College, and 501(c)3 organizations, such as the Harper College Educational Foundation, to support efforts that meet their grant making goals and support their overall organizational funding priorities. Grant funding can be used for a variety of expenses, as defined by the funder’s guidelines, and may include: personnel, equipment, materials and supplies, scholarships, travel, marketing, outreach, professional development, and contractual services.
There are lots of grants available to community colleges! Grant funding is available through federal, state, and local government sources, corporations, associations, other foundations, and other grant making organizations. Harper is eligible for foundation, corporation, and federal, state, and local government funding that is available to public institutions of higher education and the Educational Foundation can apply for grants available to 501(c)3 organizations.
Funders that have provided grant funding in support of Harper’s programs, services, and projects include the Illinois Community College Board, Illinois Board of Higher Education, Department of Commerce and Economic Opportunity, Department of Education, Department of Labor, Achieving the Dream, The Aspen Institute, The Joyce Foundation, Chicagoland Workforce Alliance, Northwest Community Healthcare, and The Kisco Foundation. Check out our current grant awards.
Ask! It is important that you discuss your ideas with your department head, dean, colleagues, and partners prior to contacting the Grants Office. The College’s Strategic Goals are an important starting point to determine whether or not your project ideas align with Harper's mission and priorities. Leadership support is critical for ensuring that your idea will be supported during the proposal development process and when it is time to implement your project. You can also complete the Grant Development Decision Making Matrix to evaluate the viability of your project idea.
It is a strategic process. Our work is guided by the College’s mission, Strategic Plan, and President’s Priorities. An annual strategic grant forecast is created through a vetting process with executive leadership. The forecast is posted on the Grants Office webpage and updated quarterly. Many factors are taken into consideration including alignment with strategic goals, impact on students and student success, viability of the project, engagement of external partners, and stakeholder ability to participate in the proposal development process within the funder’s timeframe.
We can! Schedule an appointment with the Grants Office to discuss your ideas, determine the information needed to research appropriate funding sources for your project, and then discuss the next steps. Be prepared to discuss specific project needs, activities, goals, budget, timeline, and projected outcomes during this first meeting. The time it will take to find an appropriate funding source may vary, depending on how well your project fits with funders' guidelines, the availability of funds, and funders' grant cycles. You can also review the Grants Forecast to see what opportunities have already been identified to determine if your project fits within one of those funding opportunities.
It is very exciting to be asked to partner on a grant project and the Grants Office can assist you through this process. If you have been contacted to be a partner or provide a letter of support/commitment for another organization’s grant proposal, please contact the Grants Office so we can guide you through Harper’s process. The earlier you notify us, the better we can support you.
Absolutely! The Grants Office directly supports staff and faculty's pursuit of grants from pre-award to post-award and closeout. The Grants Office will coordinate the proposal development support and create a timeline for preparing and submitting a grant proposal. We will meet with the grant proposal development team – the individuals involved in project development and implementation – to discuss the information needed to submit a grant proposal. After discussing each element of the grant application, writing and research responsibilities for each section of the proposal will be assigned and tracked. The Grants Office will collect all pieces of the proposal and integrate them to create "one voice" before submission. Teamwork is critical throughout the grant lifecycle!
Yes, working with us provides your project with a greater chance of being funded. Per Harper College policy and in an effort to minimize risk to the College, the Grants Office must coordinate all proposal development and submission. By working with the Grants Office, all of the College's grant awards, activities, outcomes, and reporting can be coordinated, tracked, reported, and filed within one centralized office.
We may not a subject matter expert when it comes to the technical narrative of your grant proposal, however. You, as the subject matter expert who works in the programs and with students on a daily basis, will work closely with the Grants Office to design and develop your proposal.
When a grant proposal or application is submitted, Harper and/or the Educational Foundation resources are committed to accomplish what is proposed and we must comply with the laws, regulations, and grant terms and conditions. Considering proper grants management and compliance during the proposal development process can protect Harper from poor performance and any non-compliance issues by identifying strategies that mitigate any compliance challenges without impacting the viability and competitiveness of the grant proposal. Failure to be compliant can result in fines to the institution and impact our ability to obtain future funding.
It depends on the situation. Long-term planning that anticipates your department's needs is important to achieving grant success. Many times, grant opportunities are not publicized until four to six weeks before the application is due. Due to these short response windows, it is important to develop project needs, ideas, strategies, and even preliminary proposals, prior to identifying a funding source. The Grants Office will work with you to determine if the time period available for proposal development and submission is sufficient to develop a viable, responsive, competitive proposal. If a grant opportunity presents itself just before the application is due (e.g., two weeks or less), we will help determine if the proposal is able to be written in the timeframe given. Often, grant programs and other funding opportunities have annual application periods and we may determine the best course of action is to wait until the next open period to ensure we are always submitting high-quality proposals on behalf of Harper and the Educational Foundation.
We can do that for you! The Grants Office generally takes the lead in all preliminary conversations with funders. Having one point of contact between Harper and the funding agency/organization limits confusion and decreases the likelihood of communicating conflicting information during the proposal development process. The Grants Office should also be the primary administrative contact with funders throughout the grant administration process.
It is a collaborative effort! During the grant seeking process, a grant Project Director will be identified and supported by the Grants Office in leading the proposal development process. Once a grant is awarded, the Project Director will have day-to-day grant management responsibilities. We will provide support to the Project Director to ensure that the grant is used the way in which it was proposed, evaluated, and approved by the funder. We will support the Project Director to ensure all funder programmatic and budgetary requirements are met, the approved grant budget is understood and adhered to, and the financial and performance reports, as required by the grant agreement, are submitted on time. Close collaboration between the Project Director, Budget Office, and Grants Office is critical for successful financial management of grant funds and regulatory compliance. The Project Director is also required to forward copies of any and all correspondence with the funding agency to the Grants Office for retention in the official grant master file. The Grants Office is responsible for managing overall grant compliance college-wide.