Date: Sun, 18 Jun 2000 06:35:11 -0400 (EDT)
From: John McLaughlin 
Subject: [acw-l] Re: Of Grants and Babies

Kathy -- thanks for your horse-sense about babies & bathwater, for Fred,
and your grant-leads, for Pat. I'd been mulling over taking on something
for both, since I've done a fair share of proposal writing in my time (on
the one hand -- always start with a local problem to solve), and I was at
one time dubbed Fred's bulldog or some such (on the other hand -- he was
even, I think, baiting traps for me at one time, if you bait traps for
bulldogs -- yes, you do, in cartoons, where his hyper-rhetoric sometimes
belongs). Anyway, it was a pleasure to sit back and watch someone else for
a change -- you're always good to watch in action -- and I thought I'd say
I 'preciated what you did. Living close to dirt, it's not an available
luxury to throw out much of anything, so we don't, around here; tech
support is the toughest issue to overcome, in my experience, since there's
a rolling employment problem with good techies -- esp if they've got good
people skills as well -- and simply writing in "tech support" invites the
vultures in on a small proposal, which soon bloats up beyond usability --
low profile sometimes being more useful for getting local things done than
high. Sometimes the best thing to do is shut the classroom door and
consider for a little while whether you really want all that goes along
with successful grant-writing. But maybe that's a luxurious attitude to
take too, and people have a right to find out, as for example by following
some of your grant-leads.

Can I add on here a rough-cut version of what's got to be in a grant? (You
can perhaps figure that out for yourself, Pat, but it also helps to have a
skeleton key or something -- I'm trying like mad to stay away from
metaphors, but it's really hard, y'know?)

First, and always, a Problem/Solution statement, in narrative form. Other
things, later, may respond to tabular or chart format, maybe even to
pretty pictures, but first, upfront, there has to be a paragraph -- two,
at most -- spelling out the Problem you intend to Solve with this
contract, should you get it. Yes, that is what it leads to, I'm afraid.

Second -- or third, fourth, fifth, depending -- is the Budget. For many
people, that's an inviolable second, and if you can get hold of successful
proposals, to a given agency, you can soon find out if they're one of
the Budget-next types. If so, do likewise. This Budget will either spell
out, to the penny, how you'd spend the money you'd get to solve the
problem you said you would under Pt I, or it may -- more rarely, in non-
profit, academic, settings, spell out income that will be derived from
doing Pt I -- a net outflow, or even a net profit, aimed at. Luckily,
you're often not held to that in the long run -- you just have to make a
close stab at it, and be ready with timely Incident Reports -- later for
those -- once you've spent the money, or in process of so doing. Nice
charts or tables can go in here.

OK. Following Budget will come one of the remaining three of this five-
part structure -- I always like to think of it like this, five fingers,
four and the thumb -- then you can write it up with one hand, check them
off with the other. Let's say we go for Schedule of Tasks as Part III. 
What has to be done, when, to complete the Solution? There you are. Or, in
other words, when will you spend which part of the Budget, another way of
looking at it. If you haven't thought this one thro, that's a danger
signal to a proposal-review officer.

Next, perhaps, comes Means of Evaluation, coming out of Schedule, linked
to it. Simplest of all -- when will the Progress Reports be filed? This
makes them planned, scheduled, expected, promised. Many people don't like
being surprised, Program Officers among them. (Alternatively to Progress
Reports for this part, you may promise what will happen as a result of the
whole Project being completed -- but that's a bit blue-sky for some
people, and filing periodic Progress Reports, working towards that
ultimate goal, makes sense for them. If it makes sense to them, they fund
you.) Basically, you're going to start with all the money you asked for,
and no work done; you'll wind up with no money left, and all the work
done. An X-diagram? Midway thro is the big Progress Report, right thro the
middle of the X. Quarter-ways in, three-quarters to out, the other
Progress Reports. Then you promise the Final Report, wrapping it all up. 

Last -- or maybe second, since you're almost certainly talking certified
people as a means to the claimed end -- comes Personnel -- most often
already on staff, in which case you're talking names, project titles, and
credentials -- or to be hired, in which case you're talking necessary
credentials and project titles. Maybe a mixture of both? OK, you get the
idea. Somebody to run those wires, or somebody to teach this pilot class.
Somebody to keep those time-records and pay-sheets, to the penny. If it's
people already on staff, you of course need their permission to use their
names. If it's to be hired, you're claiming you can hire them locally. Be
prepared to back that up, normally with resumes solicited by advertising
for potential jobs, down the line. That's why people advertise with box-
numbers, to get strangers' resumes they can show the funding agency. A bit
cold-blooded, I know, if you've ever been on the other end of a box-
number -- but that's what that's for, in the papers, somebody writing
a proposal and looking for hiring possibles as funding proof.

If you complicate the Proposal much beyond five easy pieces, you make it
unreadable, so I'll stop soon. If you're trying to read proposals to see
which way to go, and they're unreadable, it's because they went beyond
five parts. IMHO.  In any case, there's a model for you. If you don't
need it, and are mildly offended at my talking down to you, I apologize.
Pass it on -- somebody else could do with it. It's worked for me in the
past, at a fairly high rate of acceptance. The first one's the hardest;
after that, you can point to its successful conclusion as part of your
claimed Solution -- you've got the beginnings of a track record in the
field, and people listen to that before they listen to anything else.

Also, network, network, network. Schmooze with people, or get someone
who's good at that to do it. Can't emphasize that enough. We've got
different skills in this our life, some people write better than they
represent the organization in person. Spread the duties around, get people
to jump in with you. This isn't work for loners -- when they do it, they
burn out fast -- but that doesn't make them bad people for bits & pieces
Who knows, maybe the necessary analytical skills to put together the
proposal to be sold to the funders belong to loners most of all.

Oh. Incident Reports. Accidents happen. Within projects, we call them
Incidents. Anything unexpected that makes you shift a deadline or spend
more than you thought you'd have to -- write it down, with alibi. File it
with the people who gave you that money to spend over time. They'll at the
very least appreciate the courtesy -- they could tell you to eat the paper
-- or they may forgive you for your writing of good alibis, and you get
the extra time or money you asked for. The point is, unlike specified,
expected, scheduled Progress Reports, these come whenever they come. Get
them in there.

I've talked long enough. Somebody else's turn.


On Sat, 17 Jun 2000, Kafkaz wrote:

> < 
>         You refer to technology grants.  I already use tech in my classes, and
> would love to know how to go about applying for a grant to increase the
> technology I use, develop new approaches and get some more things for my
> classroom (digital camera and digital video cam for starters).  How and
> where does one apply for these grants?  Anyone?  Anyone?
> Pat Schulze>>
> Pat--
> I took a quick look around and come up with bunches of links you might want to
> have a look at.  Haven't really analyzed any of them, though.  A skim indicates
> that there are state grants, federal grants, and private grants for which you
> might apply.  Some sites include info about others who have secured the grants,
> too, which might be useful to you as you write your proposals.  Nancy Patterson,
> I'm sure, has lots of other good ideas about tech grants to add.
> Anyway, here are some links from a quick look--
> Good luck!
> (And a smitch of editorializing, 'cause ya' know I can't resist.  Based on
> ncte-talkie discussions, sounds like lots of teachers are making do with one or
> two computers in a classroom, or one smallish lab for a whole biggish
> school--that's the situation at my son's school, I know, and we're working on it.
> Then, of course, there are all of those students and teachers with no access to
> speak of at all.  Nick C. and I went round and round about this not long ago.  I
> guess it would be fair to say he did his usual persuasive best to scootch me
> toward this view:  first, access; then (simultaneously would be better) support to
> accompany it; after that, discussion about "best practices" can make sense, but
> without meeting those minimal conditions, it hasn't a hope in hell of leading
> anywhere except to the usual extremist rantings.  Which is fine.  The extremists
> will always be with us, and they do seem to enjoy taking each other on.  Jerry
> Springer must be about the smartest guy around, from that perspective.
> Meanwhile,  once we've secured the access (tech or tubs), and identified those who
> might use them (teachers or tots), we need to figure out how to bring the two
> together without any more drownings than absolutely necessary.  I'll agree with
> Fred that some few select drownings *might* be necessary (oops, sudsy baby slipped
> *right* through my fingers; such a cryin' shame), murderous as that sounds given
> the infant imagery.  (Infanticide.  Heavens.  No one but me could do such a swell
> job of writing herself right into the nearest available corner.)  Sainthood is for
> martyrs, I guess.  I'm lots of things, but "saint" and "martyr" aren't among
> them.  For now, at least, I'll be happy to play the smallest of parts in setting a
> minor miracle in motion by quietly observing, again and again, that the yawning
> oceans  between the saints and the great unwashed sure do look like awfully
> interesting territory to explore.  Rudimentary image map forthcoming.
> So, line up the babies, line up the tubs, fill the tubs, stick or coax or *invite*
> the babies into them--some will take to it like nobody's business, screeching
> should you dare to remove them, others need a gentler touch--*then* see what
> you've got.  If there's failure to thrive--or, hmm, what would fit with this awful
> analogy?  reluctance to be baptized, perhaps?--I'd like to know that I did what I
> could to counter it.  Meantime, I grow weary of fiddling around with the academic
> versions of faith and doubt, entertaining as they can be, for they transform what
> I'm calling essentials into luxuries leisurely debated in journals by profs with,
> relatively speaking, access to burn.  Who needs it?  (It's like the difference
> between "How to bathe your newborn" in the parenting books, and the reality of
> simply *doing* it, which tends to bear practically no resemblance to the expert
> advice and illustrations.  How about "The Perils of Paying Too Damned Much
> Attention to the Wrong Things"?  How's that for heresy?  Worse than infanticide,
> even?)  There's work to be done, access to be secured, teachers and students alike
> to be supported in their techie adventures.  After that, whether or not folks
> choose to "Drink and be whole again beyond confusion" is certainly up to them.
> I'd like to provide the luxury of real choice.  Frost's "Directive" is the only
> one I've ever found that doesn't rankle.  Could be no one really will wish to
> follow a guide who "only has at heart" their "getting lost," but it would be a
> fine thing to be able to whisper, "Here are your waters and your watering place,"
> anyway.  It would be a fine thing if there were a guide with whom to get lost.
> In any case, baby tubs (I'm in a position to know this) come with wee little
> drains in them now, and even a baby making do with a sink isn't likely to swirl
> away once the plug is pulled.  I think sloshing the old water out the window,
> accompanied by baby or not, mostly went out of fashion long ago; good news for
> babies everywhere, it seems.
> Kathy at C.O.D.