Center for Excellence in the Arts and Humanities


The Center for Excellence in the Arts and Humanities (CEAH) supports and encourages ISU arts and humanities faculty in the pursuit of both internal and external funding opportunities to further their research activities and interests. Please contact Sandra Norvell at the Center directly with any questions or concerns.
202 Catt Hall
Sandra Norvell at 294-1594 or by email to

Links to sections below:
Proposal Development Work Flow Chart

The Proposal Writing Stages - What to Know

Proposal Writing Resources

ISU Proposal - Related Websites and Offices

THE GRANTS OFFICE - Services Offered To Faculty

The Center for Excellence in the Arts and Humanities (CEAH) houses the Grants Office, which provides support to faculty in the arts and humanities in obtaining external research funding. CEAH supports faculty who engage in externally sponsored research and programs, either as individual scholars or interdisciplinary teams of scholars with many services. The Grants Office offers a wide range of services as described below.

CEAH Funding Search Request (Let us help you find funding)
Proposal Development Work Flow Chart (Who does what when)
Foundation Directory Search Terms (Use w/ CEAH Funding Search Request form)
Community of Science Search Terms (Use w/ CEAH Funding Search Request form.)

What can CEAH do for you?
The Center offers access to funding opportunity information, provides specialized searches for funding sources, and assists faculty with the budget and financial sections of a proposal. The Grants Office can also help faculty locate and schedule meetings with collaborative research team members who may share similar interests.

The Grants Office offers a broad range of pre-award and post-award services. We will assist with the proposal's budget preparation, assure that grant submission guidelines are met, and when requested, will arrange for outside readers to review and edit the proposal according to the stated guidelines. Complete proposals will be guided through the ISU GoldSheet and grant submission process. Awarded proposals will be supported and monitored through the Center during the post award period.

Why write grants?
Grant writing carries with it advantages that are not always apparent at the onset. Besides the necessity to show scholarly success to academic and creative research peers, receiving grant funding supports research goals and vital activities. Both grant seeking and the process of proposal development can help faculty focus their scholarly/creative work and can encourage a necessary articulation of why the research matters. Proposal preparation provides an opportunity for faculty to think specifically about why their work is relevant to their field and why those ideas should be disseminated to a wider community. Of course, it must be said, the ideas being proposed must capture the imaginations of the grant review board members.

Grant writing can be seen as just one of the tools faculty involved in scholarly/creative work use to build successful careers. Grant writers who first write internal grants and smaller external grants find that they have a higher success rate when applying for larger and higher profile awards. Competitive government grants and national foundations like to see previous and continued institutional support, success on smaller seed grant awards and a proven track record of successfully completed research. Success begets success.

With this in mind, think of CEAH as a means to an end, a stepping stone. The Center offers internal research grants to individual scholars, seed grants for interdisciplinary teams of researchers, and small grants to senior scholars who need only a small boost to augment their research funding. Further, the Center can help researchers locate and secure external funding and facilitate the necessary post-award requirements.

Identify Your Research Goals and Needs
The Center will schedule a short meeting with you to discuss your research and funding needs. At that time, we will help you identify ways to locate possible external sources of funding and answer and questions you may have about the funding process.

Before the meeting, please consider your research goals and needs carefully. First, consider the best case scenario and decide what you intend to research and how you intend to go about it. Hold those ideals in your head and then assess what resources (including time) you will need to accomplish your research. The Center can help with this process. We ask that you take a moment and fill out a Funding Search Request form.

Send completed form to CEAH via email to Sandra Norvell or through campus mail to: CEAH at 202 Catt Hall (1301).

This is a 2 minute video.

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Start Early:
Successful grant writers plan months, even years ahead of time, and one needs to consider that the 2-3 weeks immediately prior to a funding deadline is frequently consumed with internal ISU office verification processes.
Plan to spend 2-3 months writing the proposal sections.
Consult this chart for some additional internal deadlines which you should keep in mind (chart in pdf format)

RFP Guidelines:
Read the complete RFP carefully and follow it exactly. Proposals are frequently eliminated before a first round review simply on these matters. In some cases, electronic submission systems do not even permit the acceptance and transmission of proposals if they do not meet the formatting criteria. Look for templates that may be supplied before you start writing.

Contacting the Agency:
Questions of eligibility, project scope, and project suitability often arise when reading RFPs and these questions frequently warrant a phone call or email to an agency. If the agency handles sponsored funding and the project would be processed through OSPA, then it is the responsibility of the PI to contact the program officer directly. If however, the funding agency is a private donor, company, or foundation, then the responsibility of first contact falls with the ISU Foundation. If you are unclear which path your chosen funding opportunity would take, please contact CEAH for clarification.(OSPA clarification sheet)

Letters of Inquiry:
Letters of inquiry are treated similarly to grant proposal applications from the University's point of view; that is, they must be submitted through either OSPA using the internal GoldSheet system or through the ISU Foundation. CEAH will help you edit, process, and submit these letters.

Write for your Audience:
Unless it is clear that your proposal will be reviewed by peers in your own discipline, write for a more general audience. Many larger funding opportunities are open to a number of disciplines, and review committees are likely to include reviewers or program officers who are not familiar with your discipline, the jargon used within it, or special terminology and acronyms. As you write, keep asking yourself, Who is my audience? Also, Will this be clear to a non-specialist reader?

Proposal Revision:
Understand that the first draft will need revision. Allow enough time for you to step away from the proposal writing process and return with renewed energy and a fresh outlook. Be prepared to ask colleagues to read and suggest revisions on the draft, and forewarn them so that they are not caught by surprise. CEAH can offer assistance with locating reviewers, if needed.

Letters of Support:
If letters of reference are required, determine from the application materials who may write on your behalf, and confirm their availability early. Letters are due at the same time as your application. Be sure that your referees have all the needed contact information and delivery instructions.

The Budget:
Create a draft budget early on and plan to rework it several times before completion. Budgets take time to create; they can not be a last minute addition to the proposal. Budgets often influence the direction of the narrative/project description text. Consider that any lapse in detail, unrealistic cost estimates, and budget padding may result in your proposal not being funded. Your budget narrative or budget justification, if required, should succinctly justify the need for funds in each category. The CEAH office will help you with this section.

Your CV:
Remember that your credentials are an integral part of the application. Update your full Curriculum Vitae. Some RFPs require a condensed version of the CV (e.g. 2 pages). Prepare this early according to the guidelines.

Check deadlines carefully. Know that deadlines are not negotiable and that you must meet those of both the external funding agency and the internal ISU offices. All proposals processed through ISU's OSPA should be submitted to OSPA 4 business days in advance of the agency deadline with a complete proposal, budget, and all sponsor guidelines. For some specific ISU deadlines please refer to this chart which is supplied by the offices of the VPRED and OSPA offices.

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Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance: Developing and Writing Grant Proposals

Corporation for Public Broadcasting: Grant Proposal Writing Tips

Council on International Exchange of Scholars - Fulbright
Tips for Applying for a Fulbright Scholarship

Department of Education: Grant making at ED

Library of Congress Congressional Research Report: Grant Proposal Development

National Endowment for the Arts: Grant Guidelines

National Endowment for the Humanities: Advice


The Art of Grantsmanship by Jacob Kraicer, University of Toronto

A Grantsmanship Tutorial from Albert Einstein College of Medicine

Grant Writing Tips: Preparing Your Biosketch and Proving Your Expertise by Sara Rockwell, Yale University

A Guide to Proposal Planning and Writing written by Jeremy T. Miner and Lynn E. Miner, Michigan State University

Guide for Writing a Funding Proposal Interactive website written by S. Joseph Levine, Michigan State University

Proposal Writer's Guide by Don Thackrey, University of Michigan

"The Rhetoric of the Grant Proposal" by Andrea R. Halpern and Thomas R. Blackburn CUR Quarterly, June 2005, pp. 187-190


The Art of Writing Proposals (Social Science Research Council)

Debunking Some Myths About Grant Writing by Kenneth T. Henson, The Chronicle of Higher Ed, June 26, 2003

Grant Writing - Proposal resources and checklists (A community based resource with text available in ten languages including Chinese and Spanish - note left sidebar options)

Grant-Writing Tools for Non-Profit Organizations

The Less-Obvious Elements of an Effective Book Proposal by Patrick H. Alexander, The Chronicle of Higher Education, Oct. 13, 2011

The Mysteries of Grant Budgeting by Karen M. Malkin, May 24, 2005

Proposal Writer (Deborah Kluge, an independent grant writing consultant)

Proposal Writing Short Course (The Foundation Center)

Resources for Artists Statements from The School of Art Institute of Chicago

White Papers and Pre-proposals: What's the Difference by Mike McCallister of University of Indianapolis (9pg. PowerPoint presentation in note format)

Writing a Successful Proposal (Minnesota Council on Foundations)

Writing an Artist Statement Advice from artist Nita Leland

Writing Proposals (Paladin Group)

Writing Proposals for ACLS Fellowship Competition by Christina M. Gills, 2008 American Council of Learned Societies Advancing the Humanities

Editing Matters (Inside Higher Education, 2011) Glossary

DePaul University: A glossary of proposal component terms

The Robert Wood Foundation: A financial glossary

University of Iowa: An acronym glossary

The Purdue Online Writing Lab

and, for ISU Accounting acronyms...
How to Talk Like an Accountant

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Animal Subjects

Air Travel Overseas

Building a Budget

Conflict of Interest

Facilities and Administration Rate (F+A) (also called Indirect Costs or IDC)

Faculty Toolbox, a listing of useful information

Fringe Benefit Rates

GoldSheet - Frequently asked questions

GoldSheet Login - Access through Liquid Office

Graduate Student Tuition Rates

How to Talk Like an Accountant

Human Subjects

Intellectual Property and Technology Transfer

Indirect Costs (IDC) - also called Facilities and Administrative rate or F+A

Institutional Information

ISU Policy and Procedures for externally sponsored research

Liquid Office Registration - access to the Gold Sheet

Office of Sponsored Programs Administration (OSPA) - for pre-award functions

Principle Investigator (PI)

Sponsored Funding Criteria - Is the funding processed through OSPA or the ISU Foundation

Sponsored Programs Accounting (SPA) - for post-award functions

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