Harper College

Grant Proposal Development Process

The Grants Office is available to lead and support faculty and staff in the development of grant proposals from conceptualization to submission of the final proposal. This process is outlined in the Grant Proposal Development Process Work Flow (jpg).

The level of assistance provided by the Grants Office during the grant funding identification and proposal development process varies based on the complexity of the grant proposal, the experience of the project director and team, the required partnerships or subject matter expertise, and the method and timeline for submission.

Each division, department, and program has a designated point of contact in the Grants Office. Please check the list to see who you should contact. If your area is not listed, please email the Grants Office at grants@harpercollege.edu

Opportunity Identification and Approvals

Grant opportunities can be identified in several ways. The Grants Office conducts ongoing research to identify foundation, corporation, and federal, state, and local government funding opportunities. The Grants Office informs faculty and staff when a relevant Request for Proposal (RFP), Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO), or other funding notice becomes available. Faculty, staff, and community partners can also identify potential grant sources.

There are several factors considered in the proposal development and approval process:

  • Alignment with the College’s Strategic Plan, Strategic Goals, President’s Priorities, or other special initiatives
  • Approval by the appropriate Dean or Lead Administrator and Executive Council member
  • Project objectives, outcomes, and impact
  • Project Director (PD)/Private Investigator (PI) qualifications
  • Timeline for the project
  • Type and availability of institutional resources needed

Faculty and staff must complete the Grant Concept Pre-Approval Form and submit to the Grants Office before any work can begin on developing a proposal. The Grants Office and the PD/PI will work together to secure all of the necessary approvals. A Harper Executive Council member must approve grant concepts before the grant writing begins.

After executive leadership has approved to grant concept, the proposal writing begins. When Harper College or the Harper College Educational Foundation is the applicant or the sub-recipient, the Grants Office will lead the writing and reviewing of all proposals, including budget, prior to submission of the final draft to the President for final approval. This ensures that forms are accurately completed, all required documentation is included, and that submission deadlines are met.

All proposals must have completed institutional review and approval, including approval by Harper’s President or designee before submission to the funding agency.

The Grants Office submits all proposals on behalf of the College and the Educational Foundation.

Proposal Content

A proposal, in most cases, will consist of the following elements:

Title Page

For those funding agencies that do not provide application forms or have other specific requirements, the first page of the document will be a title page.

Generally, the title page contains:

  • Name and address of the funding agency
  • Title of proposed project
  • Applicant name (William Rainey Harper College or the Harper College Educational Foundation)
  • Applicant address
  • Date of submission

It may also contain a signature block for the authorized signer.

Table of Contents

The table of contents can be generated automatically by MS Word. Its purpose is to direct reviewers to key sections of the proposal and should show page numbers for each heading and subheading.


The abstract is a brief summary of the proposal and should include the purpose of the proposal, need for the project, specific objectives, measures for success, and expected outcomes. It should not include references from the material and should be written last.

Project Description

This is generally the largest section of the proposal and contains a detailed description that may include the following:

  • Organizational background
  • Introduction
  • Needs/problem statement
  • Project rationale
  • Goals and objectives of the project
  • Relation of the state of research and knowledge in the field
  • Significance of the project
  • Methods and procedures
  • Implementation plan
  • Means for meeting objectives
  • Challenges that are anticipated
  • Evaluation plan
  • Management plan
  • Key project staff and their roles and responsibilities
  • Project timeline
  • Sustainability plan

Facilities or Infrastructure

The project director and/or the Grants Office will provide a description of the facilities, equipment, and infrastructure that will be used for the project.


This section may contain resumes or biographical sketches that include relevant publications of the project director and key personnel. Only those individuals who are identified as essential to the project are considered key personnel for the proposal. The funding agency may also ask for a College organizational chart and/or a project-specific organizational chart.

Budget and Budget Justification

The project budget should be reasonable and necessary and identify the costs of the project to the funding agency. The budget also serves as a further measure of the College’s capabilities and capacities because there must be a reasonable correlation between the activities and objectives of the project and the budget.

Budget development constitutes a large, and sometimes complex, segment of the proposal and often has a different structure depending on the funding agency. For example, for federal and state grants and depending on allowability, the budget may contain both direct costs and indirect costs (i.e., Facilities and Administrative (F&A)). A budget for a corporate or foundation grant may or may not include F&A depending on restrictions and allowability.

The College requires a detailed budget and budget justification as part of the proposal even if the funder does not require it.

Please review the Pre-Award Grants Handbook for more information on developing your project budget.

Last Updated: 12/14/23