Two summaries were presented for grant funding consideration. The two were both for the funding of a theater program to benefit at-risk youth in the Chicago area. The proposal that was chosen for funding is Summary #2. The following will examine the specific reasons for choosing this summary and it will explore ways to improve the summary that was not chosen.
Reasons for Selection
Summary #2 was chosen because this proposal is specific, well organized, and explains specifically who the program will benefit and how the money will be used. Summary #2 uses concrete language. It provides the who, what, when, where, and why information of the program. It demonstrates a clear connection between the goals of the program and the outcome that is expected to be achieved. Grant writing is different between various fields and according to the goals to be achieved by the program (Devine, 2014). The main differences are in the tone and style. Many of the mechanics are the same, regardless of the field (Devine, 2014).
Summary #2 is the better of the two for many reasons. The summary opens with exactly how much is bring requested and identifies who will benefit from the funds. It provides who will recruit youth for the program and the criteria that will be used to choose them. The proposal specifically states the goals of the program and how the expected outcomes will be measured. This proposal presents a concrete way to measure the results of the program through the use of pretests and posttests. The funder will be able to see the results of the program’s efforts. The summary provides the skills and benefits that students who participate in the program will receive. The summary outlines the types of professionals who will be manning the program and why they were chosen. Overall, this was an excellent summary for the program. It demonstrates a well-organized structure. It uses appropriate language for the audience.
Improving the Summary Not Chosen
The first issue with the summary not chosen is the use of “we” several times throughout the summary. The information is disorganized and does not flow well. For instance, information about when the program will be ran is in the second paragraph and information about where the program will occur are broken by a “fluff” sentence about what the author hopes will happen. The summary jumps around from one topic to another without a clear transition.
The entire first paragraph lacks useful information and can be considered mainly “fluff”. The only useful information is a loose description of who the program will benefit and what they will be taught. However, the description is not clear enough to form a picture in the reader’s head of what will occur during the program. The first paragraph does show the author’s passion for the topic, but it does so in a way that makes them, and the organization they work for lose credibility. The use of terms like “fantastic”, “awful”, “cutting-edge”, and “most interesting” have no place in professional business writing. The author claims that the cuts being made by school districts are “unnecessary”, but they do not support that statement. The first paragraph is filled with hyperbole and language that is too casual for the purpose of the writing and the intended audience.
The first summary does not provide the means to determine if the goals of the program have been met. The author says, “We are hoping that at the end of the program, the teens will act better at home and at school.” This provides no criteria against which the goals of the program and outcome can be measured. The summary is filled with phrases such as, “we are sure” or “we know”. This leaves the reader with the questions of how they know, and why they are so sure.
Many of the sentences in the summary could be cut out and the content would not change. Every sentence in the summary should provide a vital piece of information about the program. If the content of the summary would not change if something were omitted, then it should not be there in the first place. The summary talks about people who will be making up the staff, but it does not provide their precise qualifications and why these people are needed.
The first summary gives the impression of a poorly operated program with little direction and focus. As a grant funder, one would have serious concerns that the program was putting the funds to good use. They have not provided evidence of the ability to design a program that serves a targeted audience and that achieves specific, measureable results. They have not demonstrated how the program will benefit the community. The lack of organization in the summary speaks volumes about the lack of organization of the program they intend to offer.
Finally, the second summary fails to bridge community resources with a community need. One of the key tips for grant writing is to only write proposals for grants that are a good match for the program (McCrea, 2010). After reading the first summary, the clarity in matching interests is not clear. The summary calls the teens “bad”, which is demeaning to the troubled youth. It seems to place blame of the end users of the program, rather than providing a supportive, transformative atmosphere that is designed to build success. The program lacks clarity as to what is meant by “bad” behavior and what is defined as “gotten into trouble.” Ambiguous, undefined terms make this program a poor choice for funding resources.
Both the first and second summary are for the same program and are asking for the same amount of money. The main difference between the two is that the second one is clear and concise. The second one clearly defined goals and speaks in concrete terms. It flows nicely from the beginning to the end. The first summary is vague, unclear, and sounds more like an advertisement used by high pressure salesmen, rather than a response to the grant proposal request. Even though they are for the same program, the second one would be funded and the first one would not, or at least would go to the bottom of the stack.
- Devine, J. (2014). Grant Writing for the Community: Building Better Citizens in the Professional Writing Classroom. The Common Good: A SUNY Plattsburgh Journal on Teaching and Learning. 2 (1): 1-11. Retrieved from http://digitalcommons.plattsburgh.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1020&context=commongood
- McCrea, B. (2010, November 10). 6 Tips for Grant Writing Success. The Journal. Retrieved from https://thejournal.com/articles/2010/11/10/6-tips-for-grant-writing-success.aspx