The most competitive EOPC proposals are those that demonstrate incisive thinking and careful planning, and also for renewal proposals, excellent program administration and positive outcomes. Excellent ideas and programs may not be funded if proposal writers do not effectively communicate the need, goal(s), actions, and so on as identified in the proposal. Particularly important are the description of program participants and the outcomes assessment. These components should be concrete and specific, and the outcomes assessment must be measurable and should comport as closely as possible to your goal(s). "Process" outcomes (e.g., the number of students students engaged in study sessions or program attendance) are not the best outcomes because they are not "results" that directly relate to the goal(s) you are trying to accomplish (i.e., the final goal is not to engage students in study sessions). Better outcomes would be student performance, albeit based on attending study sessions, or changes in attitudes that arise from program attendance as measured, for example, in a post-program survey. Below are some concrete tips for writing good EOPC proposals and evaluations.
Read the Directions - EOPC proposal guidelines contain detailed directions for writing good proposals. Please read them carefully and follow them explicitly.
Descriptions and Terminology - Be explicit in your choice of words. Avoid acronyms and other potentially ambiguous phrases.
Terminology is especially critical in the Target Population portion of the proposal. Words like "underrepresented" and "minority" students can have several different meanings. "African American" or "students with learning disabilities" provide more specific information.
Get Help - Although we try to make our guidelines as complete and clear as possible, they are not intended as a substitute for attending EOPC workshops. Most people need to attend a workshop to develop a good understanding of the proposal and evaluation process. Even if you have experience writing EOPC proposals and have attended workshops before, it is a good idea to participate in a workshop to ensure that you understand the proposal writing process thoroughly. Also, you should contact the EOPC office (firstname.lastname@example.org; 814-863-7890) whenever you are unclear on a given point or want further guidance on any part of your proposal. If you find a mistake or problem in the Web guidelines, let us know so that we can correct it.
Presentation Counts - EOPC evaluation teams expect your work to be neat, well-organized, and well-written. It's always a good idea to have someone with excellent writing skills proof read your proposal before you submit it. Think of ways to make your ideas easier to follow by the use of bullets and numbered lists; especially for any supporting materials you also provide, charts, tables, graphs, and so on are often the most useful.
Keep It Short and Simple - Long proposals for Over 5K proposals are not always better than short, to the point, proposals. "Reader friendly" proposals, with key components presented in easily identifiable formats, will help the reviewers assess your proposal most completely. Don't reduce the default font and margin sizes to stay within the page limit requirements since this practice makes it even harder for evaluators to read your materials. Keep everything simple and to the point.
Focus on Facts - While you may "know" how much your program is needed, you can best communicate these ideas through the use of data. Look carefully at the Annotated and Example Proposals for ideas on how to make your best case.
Goals and Actions - Make sure you understand the difference between goals and actions. Goals describe what you're trying to accomplish, and actions identify the specific strategies you will use to accomplish your goals. Actions should be stated in such a way that you can assess after the program is over whether you completed it or not.
Comparative Assessment - As stated above, one of if not the most important component of your proposal is the Outcomes Assessment section. EOPC considers this section to be so important that it is the first section that you write and must be assessed before you can move on to the rest of the proposal. Often, the best way to do assessment is by comparing outcomes with other outcomes to better understand the actual impact of your program. For example, to best understand the effectiveness of a student academic program, compare participants with non-participants who have similar academic and/or demographic characteristics. A similar approach is to conduct a pre- and post-event survey using the same instrument (or at least have some questions that are the same on both) and compare results. Details of these assessments and instruments can be included in your supporting materials. This Science Camp Survey is an actual example of comparative assessment from an EOPC proposal.