For additional information, please see the Grants Office web page.

July 2022

Carleton College encourages its faculty to be active and creative within their disciplinary and interdisciplinary fields, and we encourage faculty to apply for externally funded grants to support research, creative work, and other scholarly activities. Preference for internal grants will be given to faculty who have applied for external grants. Charlotte Whited in the Grants Office can help with any aspect of seeking external grant support, from researching possible funders to preparing applications.

The first and foremost recommendation for writing a good grant proposal is to be sure to allow yourself ample time.

To prepare the strongest proposal, you will not only need to discuss your project with appropriate faculty and staff, but to write, circulate (perhaps among several readers), and revise rough drafts of your proposal, which might include a budget as well as other ancillary documents. All of these steps take time, so be sure to plan for them. It is not unusual for an applicant to need several months to conceive, develop, and submit a viable grant proposal. At a minimum, three weeks is necessary to develop a proposal with a strong chance of success.

Though the proposal-development process necessarily varies according to the format of the proposal, the applicants’ available time, the complexity of the proposed project, and numerous other factors, several steps are common to all applications submitted by Carleton faculty. In order to allow sufficient time for necessary internal review and approvals, and to allow time to navigate complex online submission systems, final documents must be submitted to the Grants Office 48 hours prior to the funder’s submission deadline.

  1. Talk with the chair of your department and with other colleagues to gather suggestions about external support in general, about experience with specific funders, and about institutional or departmental implications of your project. The Grants Office can also provide information on Carleton faculty who have received grants from various funders of interest.
  2. Next, clear your project with the proper administrators, including your chair and Eric Egge, Associate Provost (x4301), as early as possible. Describe what you intend to do and how your planned project relates to your long-term career development as a teacher and as a scholar, as well as how it connects with other programs and activities of the College. Consider questions such as whether your proposal will require new library materials; information technology, including personal computers, or other equipment; how it will affect the curriculum of the College; and how it will affect staffing in your department and/or interdisciplinary program. If you are involved in an interdisciplinary program, you need also to discuss your plans with its director. Additionally consider whether the proposal requires institutional financial support, as some proposals call for matching funds, and/or time away from teaching or other duties. Because of these factors, both your departmental chair and Associate Provost Egge must formally approve your proposal (documentation of this approval is handled by the Grants Office). After receiving the approvals of your department and the Provost’s Office, you may also need to secure other approvals prior to submitting the proposal.
    1. Susan Benson, Grant and Cash Manager in the Business Office, must review all grant proposal budgets to federal agencies and should review all proposals that require the College to serve as fiscal agent for your grant. The College serves as fiscal agent for most grants except for some individual research projects funded by private foundations or governmental agencies such as NEH summer stipends. If you apply for a grant that includes salary, you should be aware of implications for fringe benefits and taxes, about which Susan or Grants Office staff can provide information. Your budget may need to include funds to cover salary and benefits, with different rates applied for academic year and for summer. Library materials, computers, furniture, and remodeling will need additional approvals. The GO has created a budget template to assist you in this process.
    2. Michelle Mattson, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs, must approve all proposals to federal agencies (NSF, NIH, NEH, etc.) as well as certain proposals to other funders (who typically specify this requirement in their guidelines). Her approval authorizes the Grants Office to submit the application on behalf of the College.
    3. Charlotte Whited in the Grants Office must approve proposals submitted to non-federal funders. There may be some relationship between a foundation and the College of which you should be aware, or the foundation may impose certain restrictions, such as a limit to the number of Carleton proposals it will accept in a year.
    4. The Office of Institutional Research and Assessment can provide help with the assessment or evaluation activities now required in many applications, but must be consulted before proposal submission.
    5. Eric Runestad, Vice President and Treasurer, must approve plans to create or remodel spaces, to purchase significant equipment, or to use College resources to match the grant.
    6. Janet Scannell, Chief Technology Officer, should approve proposals that include significant information-technology infrastructure (hardware or software) or resources (ITS staff, network access, etc.).
    7. Elisabeth Haase, Manager of Environmental Health & Safety Compliance, should be consulted when the proposal may raise concerns about environmental health & safety; for example, requiring new lab equipment or techniques.
  3. In writing the proposal, you should seek the assistance of colleagues at the College and elsewhere. In addition, staff in the Grants Office will be pleased to assist with reviewing, editing, developing a budget, and proofreading your proposal. Note: If you plan to apply for a federal grant from the National Science Foundation, National Institutes of Health, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Endowment for the Arts, or another federal organization, please contact the Grants Office as soon as you begin working on your grant. Federal grants typically involve heavy time commitments for administrative staff, and almost always require submission by the Grants Office as the official agent of the College.
  4. Applicants for a Carleton-administered grant from a federal agency or foundation must read and sign the “Compliance & Disclosure Form for Grant Applications to the Federal Government,” which addresses federal requirements such as financial conflict of interest issues, human or animal subjects involvement, and responsible conduct of research.
  5. Submission of an application nearly always occurs online. The Grants Office can help with any aspect of the proposal-submission process, from preparing multiple copies of proposals to handling electronic submissions. Owing to the time-consuming nature of these tasks, some lead time – at least a few days – is required.

Post Submission

  1. Furnish a complete electronic copy of your proposal (including all supporting documents) to the Grants Office.
  2. Please report on the outcome of your proposal to the Dean of the College and the Grants Office. If your proposal is not successful, the Grants Office can try to help you identify alternative funders.
  3. If your grant involves several faculty, grant management and coordination procedures need to be set up and agreed upon prior to the start of the project.
  4. Submitting reports on the use of grant funds and the progress of projects is the responsibility of the project director (or grant manager, if a grant steering committee is formed). The Grants Office can furnish timely reminders of obligations and assist in preparing reports. The Business Office can assist in the preparation of financial reports.