Proposal Preparation Resources

What are Sponsored Programs?

Sponsored programs are any activities supported by external funds awarded to the University as a result of some formal communication. The communication may be a contract, a letter, an application, or a written proposal signed by an authorized University official. Such communication must be reviewed and processed by the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs. A sponsored program traditionally has one or more of the following attributes:

  • Award is contingent upon the University accepting specific staff performance and/or achieving specific performance targets.
  • Programmatic or technical reports are required.
  • Fiscal report is written or an external audit is performed.
  • The disposition of intangible property such as patents, copyrights, inventions, and licenses which may result from the activity are provisioned.

Excluded from this definition of Sponsored Programs are the following:

  • Gifts and bequests to the University.
  • General Development campaigns which result in funds provided to the Kentucky State University Foundation.

Federal awarding agencies may use any of the following legally binding instruments to provide extramural funding for sponsored research and projects: grant, cooperative agreement, or contract. In each instance the agency decides on the appropriate award instrument.

The distinctions among these instruments are explained in OMB Uniform Guidance: Uniform Administrative Requirements for Grants and Agreements with Instructions for Higher Education, Hospitals, and Other Nonprofit Organizations:  GPO-Uniform Guidance.

A grant is used when the principal purpose of the transaction is to accomplish a public purpose of support or stimulation authorized by Federal Statute. Substantial involvement between the sponsor and the recipient is not expected when carrying out the activity. The exact course of work and its outcome cannot be defined precisely.

A cooperative agreement is used when the principal purpose of the transaction is to accomplish a public purpose of support or stimulation authorized by Federal Statute, and substantial involvement between the sponsor and the recipient is anticipated during the performance of the work. The nature of the involvement can be defined and specified in advance.

A contract is used when the primary purpose of the transaction is acquisition of property or services for the direct benefit or use of Federal Government involvement.

A successful sponsored project is a multi-step process. This management guide is intended not only to facilitate this process, but also to serve as a guide to both new and experienced investigators in developing applications for external funding, and in meeting the responsibilities expected from Principal Investigators (PIs) or Project Directors (PDs) when funded. It is a living document which will be modified as University policies and funders’ guidelines change.

Kentucky State University requires that all applications for a sponsored project be submitted through the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs (ORSP). The ORSP is the administrative unit charged with the responsibility of coordinating these functions.  Staff in the ORSP is available to answer questions, assist in finding solutions to problems, and ensure PIs’ compliance with agency specific and/or federal guidelines, clarification of terms and conditions, and university policies and procedures.

A wealth of information is available via the Internet regarding grant proposal resources and preparation guides. Additionally, many funding organizations and federal funding agencies have detailed proposal preparation guides and sample proposals available.

Grants Guidance Resources

Funding Information Sources

Federal Funding Sources

  • U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) –
  • National Science Foundations (NSF) –
  • National Institutes of Health (NIH) –
  • National Endowment of the Humanities (NEH) –
  • National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) –
  • National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) –
  • National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) –
  • U.S. Department of Health and Human Services –
  • U.S. Department of Education –
  • U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) –

After identifying a funding source or potential sponsor, the next task is to prepare the proposal for submission. The proposal is the vehicle by which the PI/PD communicates an idea and plan to the sponsor. It informs the funding agency why, how, when, and by whom the proposed activities will be done.

The solicitation document will prescribe the format and content of the proposal. Solicitation documents include the Request for Proposal (RFP), Request for Quote (RFQ), Broad Agency Announcement, Program Announcement (PA), Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) and others. There is no standard format for proposals. The application should be developed in accordance with the requirements specified in the program instructions. The text should be organized and keyed to the evaluation criteria published in the guidelines. As previously mentioned, the solicitation document prescribes the format and content of the proposal. Proposal elements should be written with the solicitation’s evaluation criteria in mind. Although the narrative outline should follow program specific guidelines, there are components which are common to all proposals and the following should be recognized as the basic framework for translating an idea to a well ordered form.