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Seeking Grant Funding 101


Academic year: 2021

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Seeking Grant

Funding 101

Jennifer Calzada, MA Director, Tulane Sim Center


Why are you here?

• Medical simulation is an expensive undertaking

that requires significant build-out costs and annual operating costs.

• Grant funding can provide a valuable source for start-up, annual operating and special project funds.


Learning objectives

• Discuss various types of simulation grants.

• Describe guidelines for preparing federal grants. • List the components necessary to effectively

develop a grant proposal.

• Identify tricks that will help facilitate completing a grant application.



• Big picture for the grant process

• Grant application ideas and projects • Grant writing

• Grant review process • Grant management

• Common pitfalls to avoid • Tips and Tricks for success


Q. My institution is...

A. Medical College B. Nursing School

C. Allied Health School D. Hospital


Q. My goals for this session…

A. Funding sources

B. Application process C. Application ideas D. Grant writing


Q. Typical grant success rate...

A. 80-100% B. 60-80% C. 40-60% D. 20-40% E. 0-20%


Grant Terminology

• FOA – Funding Opportunity Announcement

• BioSketch – it is not your resume. Often 2 or 4 pages. Similar to a curriculum vitae, but specific to the grant subject matter.

• Grantor- agency providing the funding • Grantee – hopefully you

• PI – Primary Investigator

• Key Personnel – personnel who have specific time dedicated and are key to the success of a project.

• Indirect Costs – negotiated by an institution with the Federal Government.

• Program Officer – manages a grant


Typical grant timeline


Application pre-work Internal Ongoing Pilot training and development Internal Ongoing Search FOA for grants Various Ongoing Determine appropriate fit Internal 2-5 days Complete application writing Internal 30-60 days Submit application Internal

Application reviewed Grantor 2-3 months Funding announcement Grantor 2-3 months

Work begins Internal 6 months


Grant Process Big Picture

1. Find grant funding opportunity

2. Determine appropriate project or research 3. Write grant proposal

4. Submit grant application

5. Funding decision and feedback

6. (For some) Grant management begins 7. Resubmission?


Q. Have an application idea...

A. True B. False


Grant Ideas, Just to Name a Few

• Equipment or space renovation for a simulation center build-out or expansion.

• Equipment purchase or expand simulator availability.

• Workforce development, training courses to train or advance healthcare workers.

• Technology innovation and development • Innovation in training processes

• Novel education curriculums • Faculty development


Grant funding sources

• Common grant sources for simulation centers,

– Agency for Healthcare Research & Quality (AHRQ) – Department of Defense (DOD)

– Health Resources & Services Administration (HRSA) – Department of Health & Hospitals (DHH)

– State and Local health departments – State Workforce training funding – Private Foundations

– Corporate grants


How to find funding sources

• Have a project idea FIRST

• Sign up for agency email lists • RSS news feeds

• Grants.gov

– Keep your search broad

• Foundationcenter.org

– Many Foundation grants are recurring

• Directly contact corporations / vendors


Previously funded projects

• Research your target agencies • Know their priorities and focus

• Know what they have funded in the past

• Know about funded projects that are similar to yours, who funded them and their outcomes


Grants.gov Announcements

• :60 scan of grants.gov FOA

– Scan 5 criteria that may knock you out. – Application Due Date – can you make it? – Purpose – does your project fit?

– Funds available – is it enough?

– Project period – can you do it in the time? – Eligible institutions and PIs – do you qualify?

• Funding Opportunity Description – will expand on all the areas above with more detail.


Grants.gov Announcements

• Detailed review of grants.gov FOA

– After a quick glance, does the FOA seem to work? – Get out your highlighter!

– Funding Opportunity Description – read and highlight all the details.

– Application Review Information – lists how applications will be reviewed. Your hint to what they want.

– Reporting – details what will be expected if you are funded.

– Agency Contacts – these are the people you may contact with questions.


Grant Writing

• Typical grant sections

– Abstract and Specific Aims – Research Plan

• Needs Assessment • Methodology

• Work Plan

• Challenges and resolutions • Program Evaluation

– Budget and Budget Narrative

– Senior / Key Personnel and Organization

• Additional sections

– IRB and Human Subjects protections – Research Sharing Plan


Pre-Application Work

• When should you start working on a grant application? NOW

• What can be written in advance?

– Biosketches

– Institution / Department description – SF424 application pages

– Project Specific Components • Abstract, Specific Aims

• Methods, Research Plan


Writing the application

• Subject matter experts should write their sections. • You should have an Editor for the final application.

Style and flow are important to be readable. • If the application allows 80 pages and you only

used 52, you are very unlikely to win funding.

• Funding announcement allows for $150,000/year, what should my budget be?

– Never go over, not even by a penny.

– Your budget should be anything except $150,000. Specific numbers are better than round numbers.


Submitting an application

• Deadlines are unforgiving.

– Apply for your agency log-in at least 4 weeks in advance. – Plan for technology glitches when you upload.

• Double check, triple check your pages to upload.

– Uploading the wrong file under a section name means part of your grant is missing and you will not be funded.

• Consider how your pages are formatted and styled. How easy are they to read?

• Use tables where appropriate to highlight data or workflow.


Submitting an application

• Should I contact the grant program officer?

– Yes, but not frivolously.

– Have specific questions for them.

– Do your homework on what the agency is looking for and what they have funded in the past.

– Has a project like yours been funded before? – Know your subject before you contact them.

• Why should I contact them?

– You want your PI name and Project Title to be familiar to them.


Grant Review Process

• Grant review process (typical) • Grant reviewers, who are they? • Grant scoring

• Application comments


Grant Review Process

• Application pages are given headers, put in order and number consecutively in a single PDF.

• If any sections go over allowable pages, your application will never been seen by reviewers.

• If any sections are uploaded incorrectly, reviewers may get confused and score you poorly.

• If any sections are not uploaded, it may be passed on and reviewers will score you poorly.


Grant Reviewers

• They are just like you. Some are grant writers, most are potential applicants.

• Reviewers for a federal grant may typically have to read 300-500 pages for a review panel.

• Review panels can last 2-4 days, depending on the complexity and size of the grant.

• Becoming a grant reviewer is the single best way to understand more about the grant process.


Grant Review Panels

• All applications are divided into Study sections. 100 applications for a grant may have 5 study sections of 20 applications each.

• NO one will see all applications.

• Applications are compared and scored to the FOA criteria. However, reviewers are human and

unconscious comparisons happen.

• Each application is read by 3 reviewers and scored. Everyone in the Study section listens to their

discussion of strengths and weaknesses and scores the application.


Grant Scoring

• Applications are typically divided into sections, each scored separately.

• Common scoring may be a max of 25 points on a section. The more competitive the grant, the

higher the score percentile must be to be funded, often only scores of 90-100 are funded.


Grant Scoring Criteria

• The FOA will spell out specific criteria that reviewers will score each section on. The

“questions” listed in the criteria section are exactly the questions reviewers will be considering for


• Typical criteria

– Significance – how broad is the likely impact? – Innovation – is it novel

– Investigators – experience counts – Approach – is the design adequate?


Grant Scoring Example

Criteria Score Possible Score

Needs Assessment Narrative 13 15 Methodology Work Plan Narrative 18 20

Evaluative Measures 19 25

Impact 9 10

Resources & Capabilities 20 20

Support Requested 10 10



Application Feedback

• Applications that make it to a review panel will

generally receive feedback in the form of reviewer comments.

• Comments will be a consensus of feedback from all reviewers in the Study Section.

• Comments will focus on weaknesses and will generally include 3-5 for each criteria.


Funding and Feedback

• Why wasn’t my project funded?

• Criteria feedback comments are your window into what a Study Panel thought of your application. • Comments should be reviewed very carefully and

feedback incorporated into future submissions.



• Should you?

• Some grants will allow institutions who previously submitted, but were not funded, to resubmit.

• You should ONLY resubmit if the feedback

comments have been very carefully reviewed and changes made that addresses the weaknesses.




Grant Management

• Institutional support • Accounting

• Reporting


Institutional Support

• Most grants do not require institutions to contribute any funds to a project.

• However, some level of matching funds or in-kind support is viewed favorably by reviewers and

shows the institution’s commitment to a project. • Lack of support is not a negative in review, but

including support is a positive.


Grants Accounting

• Grant accounting, especially for federal grants, is very precise and detailed.

• If your institution has never managed a grant, make sure the account is correctly managed.

• Violating any federal grant accounting rules can be a reason a multi-year grant is not renewed.


Grant Reporting

• Nearly all grants require status reporting.

• At minimum, annual reports are required and often quarterly updates are also required.

• Reporting requirements are spelled out in the FOA, make sure you can meet these requirements

before you apply.

• Just like accounting, not following reporting rules can cause a grant to not be renewed.


Grant Publication

• Grantors do not give your institution funding solely for the benefit of your single institution.

• Grant work is expected to contribute to a body of knowledge, industry standards or at minimum be replicable at other institutions.

• Some grant FOA will spell out specific requirements for disseminating your results beyond your


• Willingness to share your results and methodology is a bonus in grant applications.




Common Pitfalls

• Writing problems • Submission problems • Project ideas • The Team • Grant management


Pitfalls: Writing

• Poor writing with many spelling errors and grammar mistakes. This will contribute to a

reviewers over all impression of your capabilities. • Details are brief or just not spelled out.

• Data provided is years old. • Data is missing.

• Data is not provided as a table.


Pitfalls: Submission

• Criteria questions in the FOA are not addressed. • Application upload caused sections to be missing

or duplicated.

• Budget allows for $150,000 for three years and budget requested in $150,000 each year with round numbers for all sections – personnel, supplies, travel, etc.

• Human or animal protections are not adequately addressed.


Pitfalls: The Project

• Project idea is not novel.

• Project idea would be difficult to replicate at other institutions.

• Project idea benefits only a very small patient population.

• Project idea does not clearly address the stated need.

• Application does not address any mechanism to

share results through dissemination or publication.


Pitfalls: The Team

• Primary Investigator and/or Key Personnel do not demonstrate adequate grant or research


• Institutional personnel or departments do not demonstrate adequate experience.

• Adequate personnel time is not dedicated to the project. Or even too much time is assigned.

• Personnel assigned do not have appropriate experience, training or education.


Pitfalls: Grant Management

• Institution does not demonstrate adequate

support for the research project. This may include accounting, human resources, training, technology services, etc.

• Application does not address required

management functions – accounting schedule, application paperwork, reporting schedules, etc.


Tips and Tricks

• Be proactive, not reactive.

• Grants take time, you can make shortcuts, but so will your success rate.

• Learn grantors priorities, not your own. • Specificity counts and it’s important.

• Who you know can be more important that what you know.

• Pilot work or test trainings can help your success chances with a grant application.


More Tips and Tricks

• Collaborations and Consortiums, generally not required but always a bonus.

• Budgets – don’t use round numbers! • Find the right grant opportunities.

• Reviewers comments are gold for your future application efforts.



Jennifer Calzada

Director, Tulane Sim Center


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