Grant Writing Workshop: Contacting the Grant Program Officer

The UF Office of Research recently hosted a two-day grant writing workshop presented by Dr. Robert Porter of GrantWinners Seminars. This article summarizes the topic of “Contacting the Grant Program Officer.”

Grant writing “heavy hitters” agree that communication with the grant program officer is the best possible investment of your time.

  • Published material in the RFP is the “official line.”
  • Review panels and program officers develop unspoken preferences.
  • Program priorities can change over time.
  • Program officer’s response to core theme is the best predictor of success.
  • Program officers can advise on issues related to program track, budget, collaborations, and project structure.
  • Unofficial “rules of the game” can separate winners from losers.

It is acceptable to discuss your project before you have written the proposal. In fact, program officers welcome inquiries in order to

  • Keep up with new directions in the field;
  • Deflect weak or inappropriate proposals;
  • Encourage and coach good ideas;
  • Scout for new grant reviewers.

How to Plan for a Successful Encounter with a Program Officer

1. Find the best “fit.”

  • Develop funding search skills.
  • Study program mission statement.
  • Search recent awards. Read abstracts.
  • Look up staff directory.

2. Write a pre-abstract or “elevator speech.”

  • Keep it brief, informal.
  • Specify goals, method, and outcomes.
  • Emphasize uniqueness and contribution to the field.
  • Rewrite and rehearse.

3. Start with an e-mail.

  • Multiple addresses are okay.
  • Concise and brief: 2 – 3 paragraphs.
  • To argue fit, borrow terminology from the office mission or RFP.
  • End with a key question: “Is this the kind of project your program would consider funding?”

4. Study the e-mail response.

  • Look for tone and nuance as well as a direct message.
  • Take all suggestions as instructions.
  • Best result: Program officer requests more information or white paper.
  • Also good: Program officer recommends a completely different program.
  • If encouraged, plan for a phone call.

5. Make the call.

  • Remind the program officer of your project and e-mail.
  • Write out questions in advance.
  • Key questions include the following:
  1. Does my project fit your current priorities?
  2. What would you recommend to improve my chances?
  3. What is the anticipated success ratio?
  4. Do you expect last year’s average award to change this year?
  5. What are some of the common reasons proposals are rejected?
  • Listen for “buying signals.”
  • Follow up with a “thank you” note summarizing key points.
  • Offer to serve on a review panel.
  • Stay in touch.
  • Ask for a meeting (if practical).

Please look for additional summaries of workshop topics in upcoming issues of the Research Bulletin.

Session recordings are available online. Those who require copies of the handouts for any/all sessions may request them by emailing Jenn Hubbs at with their name, on-campus PO Box, and session(s) of interest.

Research Event in June 2014

COE faculty and doctoral students are cordially invited to attend:

“Tales of a Fulbright Scholarship: Incarcerated and Disadvantaged Youth in South Africa”

with Dr. Joseph C. Gagnon

Monday, June 2, 2014
11:30 pm – 1:00 pm
Terrace Room

Bring your brown bag lunch. Refreshments will be provided.

RSVP to Rosie Connolly by Friday, May 30th:

Awarded Projects for April 2014

College of Education – Awarded Projects – April 2014
Principal Investigator: Philip Poekert (Lastinger Center for Learning)
Co-PI: N/A
Funding Agency: SRI International (Subcontract)
Project Title: Validation of SunBay Middle School Mathematics
Project Period: 1/1/2014 – 12/31/2017
Award Amount: $2,241,002
Principal Investigator: Philip Poekert (Lastinger Center for Learning)
Co-PI: N/A
Funding Agency: The School Board of Miami-Dade County
Project Title: M-DCPS/Kellogg i3 Match
Project Period: 10/1/2012 – 6/30/2015
Award Amount: $574,026.59
Principal Investigator: Bruce MacFadden (Florida Museum of Natural History)
Co-PI: Kent Crippen (STL)
Funding Agency: National Science Foundation
Project Title: FOSSIL: Fostering Opportunities for Synergistic STEM with Informal Learners
Project Period: 11/23/2013 – 11/22/2017
Award Amount: $252,941
Principal Investigator: Marisa Stukey (P.K. Yonge)
Co-PI: N/A
Funding Agency: Developmental Studies Center
Project Title: The Collaborative Classroom
Project Period: 3/17/2014 – 7/31/2014
Award Amount: $12,000
Principal Investigator: Danling Fu (STL)
Co-PI: Cynthia Chennault (Languages, Literatures, and Culture)
Funding Agency: National Security Agency
Project Title: Florida STARTALK 2014 for Teachers of Chinese, K-16
Project Period: 4/10/2014 – 2/28/2015
Award Amount: $77,191

Submitted Projects for April 2014

College of Education – Submitted Projects – April 2014
Principal Investigator: Philip Poekert (Lastinger Center for Learning)
Co-PI: N/A
Funding Agency: Early Learning Coalition of Broward County, Inc.
Proposal Title: ELC Broward County Community of Practice Facilitation Training
Requested Amount: $45,000
Principal Investigator: Lynda Hayes (P.K. Yonge)
Co-PI: N/A
Funding Agency: Plum Creek Foundation
Proposal Title: PKY Outreach via VTC: P.K. Yonge Connects with Educators via Video Teleconferencing
Requested Amount: $10,000
Principal Investigator: Marisa Stukey (P.K. Yonge)
Co-PI: Ashley Pennypacker-Hill (P.K. Yonge)
Funding Agency: Florida Department of Education
Proposal Title: Transforming Mathematics
Requested Amount: $2,043.43
Principal Investigator: Christy Gabbard (P.K. Yonge)
Co-PI: Mickey MacDonald (P.K. Yonge)
Funding Agency: Learning Forward Foundation
Proposal Title: Professional Learning through Inquiry
Requested Amount: $9,995.66
Principal Investigator: Michael Bowie (RRMA)
Co-PI: Theresa Vernetson (Dean’s Area)
Funding Agency: Florida Department of Education
Proposal Title: College Reach Out Program (CROP)
Requested Amount: $166,343.52
Principal Investigator: Diana Joyce (SESPECS)
Co-PI: Nancy Waldron (SESPECS)
Funding Agency: U.S. Department of Education/OSEP
Proposal Title: Project SHINEs: Specialization in High Needs Educational Services
Requested Amount: $1,072,079
Principal Investigator: Sylvia Boynton (Lastinger Center for Learning)
Co-PI: N/A
Funding Agency: Educational Testing Service (ETS)
Proposal Title: Florida Cooperative Learning FLICC Project
Requested Amount: $122,086
Principal Investigator: Maria Coady (STL)
Co-PI: N/A
Funding Agency: U.S. Department of State
Proposal Title: Faculty Advancement in Teacher Education (FATE)
Requested Amount: $496,526