Proposal Preparation



Steps in Preparing Your Proposal

Any award made to Chaffey College represents a legally binding agreement between the college and the sponsoring agency. To protect the integrity and liability of the College, it is imperative that all grant proposals are fully vetted through the submission process and receive full authorization and support from the administration.

Faculty and staff in the preliminary stages of developing a project or grant concept should complete the one-page grant idea form and return it to the Grants Development and Management Office (GDM). The grant idea form identifies the primary contact and provides preliminary information about the proposed project’s activities and services and funding requirements. The GDM Director will schedule a meeting with the primary contact to discuss the grant idea and familiarize the primary contact with online resources and funding databases available to identify potential funding opportunities. Please note, completion of a grant idea form is neither a guarantee of funding nor an endorsement from the college to pursue specific projects. To pursue an identified funding opportunity and submit an application to the sponsor, faculty and staff must complete the intent to apply form.


If you have already identified a funding opportunity and wish to secure the college’s endorsement to prepare an application, you can proceed with the intent to apply form. The GDM Office will facilitate completion and submission of the intent to apply and a one-page abstract of the proposed project. The intent to apply contains detailed information about the proposed project including physical and personnel resources, preliminary budget and sponsor information. The intent to apply is reviewed by the Grants Development and Management Core Review Team (CRT) based on a grant proposal scoring rubric. The scoring rubric allows the CRT to assess new grant opportunities compared to the college’s strategic vision Chaffey College VISION 2030 Educational Master Plan_ Feb 2020 , Chaffey goals and impact on resources and target population. The scoring rubric allows the CRT to make decisions to pursue grant opportunities based on a rational and transparent process rather than pursuing an opportunity because it’s a “neat idea.” The CRT will consider the merits of each potential proposal based on the following 12 criteria:

  1. Relationship to educational strategic vision and/or Chaffey goals;
  2. Clearly documented evidence-based institutional or community need;
  3. College’s ability to address sponsor funded criteria;
  4. Financial impact;
  5. Personnel commitment;
  6. Facility requirements;
  7. Technology requirements;
  8. Expertise and credentials of the proposed project director and grant personnel;
  9. Sufficient lead time for submission;
  10. Potential population served and ability to affect change;
  11. External partners; and,
  12. Institutionalization of the proposed project.

The CRT will average individual scores to one composite score and forward a recommendation to the Associate Superintendents of business services and economic development and instruction and student services to either:

  1. Approve the proposed project for proposal development and submission;
  2. Approve the proposed project with noted concerns;
  3. Table the proposed project for further discussion/development; or
  4. Deny the proposed project for proposal development.

The GDM Core Review Team may also recommend faculty, administrators or staff to participate on the grant development and writing team. Once the associate superintendents authorize the intent to apply the actual grant writing and application preparation begins.

Proposal Appeal

If the Associate superintendents decide to table or deny the pursuit of a grant project, the primary contact may appeal the decision by completing a “Proposal Appeal Form” and submitting it along with the original intent to apply documents to the superintendent/president’s executive committee for reconsideration. Proposal appeals will be considered during regular closed session of the executive committee. Primary contacts will be notified of the committee’s decision within three business days of the meeting. The decision of the executive committee constitutes a final decision.

Role of the Grant Writing Team

Preparing a grant submission requires participation and collaboration from all parties affected by the proposed project. The Grants Development and Management (GDM) Core Review Team (CRT) may assist the primary contact/project director with identifying appropriate faculty and staff to participate on the grant writing team to provide content expertise. The GDM Office will facilitate team meetings, assist in developing a timeline for completion and may assign various team members specific tasks related to the grant application. Grant writing is a truly interactive, participatory process which relies on the wide range of expertise of Chaffey’s faculty, staff and administrators. The role of the GDM Office is to facilitate this process through convening regular grant development meetings, gathering information and working with the team to develop a viable application. Team members may contribute to several aspects of the application such as:

  • Contributing to the proposal narrative and project design;
  • Assisting with the development of the project budget;
  • Providing current biosketches, resumes or curriculum vitae;
  • Assisting the collection of letters of commitment or other supplementary documents required by the sponsor;
  • Facilitating collaboration with potential community partners; and/or
  • Reviewing and editing drafts of the proposal or budget narrative.

The GDM Office will collect, organize and assemble all final components of the grant application package including completion of all sponsor required forms.

Ten (10) business days prior to the sponsor’s submission deadline, the GDM Office and the primary contact will complete and circulate the “Authorization to Submit Grant Application Form” for final review and official sign-off by key offices and administrators. The authorization to submit grant application form must be accompanied by the following components of the grant proposal:

  • Abstract
  • Proposal Narrative (Chaffey as lead institution) or statement of work (Chaffey as a partner institution)
  • Detailed budget and budget justification

The GDM Office will make the form and proposal components available electronically to all signees and notify all that the proposal is ready for final review and approval. Signees will contact the GDM Office with any questions, comments or corrections that need to be made to the application. All signees will be notified if changes in the project scope or budget modifications in excess of five percent need to be made after granting authorization and prior to final submission.

Grant proposal applications may only be submitted by representatives from two offices on campus.

  1. The foundation director is responsible for submitting foundation grants which require documentation of non-profit 503(c)(3) status.
  2. The GDM Office submits grants to all other sponsoring agencies including federal, state and local government agencies and others.

Grants requiring paper submission will be sent via overnight carrier with delivery confirmation (i.e. FedEx or UPS) at least 48 hours before the deadline. Grants requiring electronic submission may be submitted up to the final submission date and time, though every effort will be made to submit applications in advance of the deadline. The GDM Office or foundation director will provide the primary contact with confirmation of receipt to the sponsoring agency.

Please be aware that any award made to the college represents a legally binding agreement between Chaffey College and the sponsoring agency. Therefore, to protect the integrity and liability of the College, it is imperative that all grant proposal submissions are fully vetted through the submission process and receive full authorization and support from the administration.

Common Elements in a Grant Proposal

Sponsors generally will provide specific instructions regarding proposal forms or formats, proposal content, page limitations, formatting and numbers of copies that should be submitted (for paper submissions). Proposals which do not conform to the sponsor’s guidelines are at risk for being returned without review. Therefore, it is in Chaffey’s best interest to ensure all proposals follow the sponsor's published guidelines exactly.

  • Authorization to Submit
  • Application Cover Page
  • Sponsor Forms and Requirements
  • Abstract
  • Proposal Narrative
  • Budget and Budget Justification
  • Biographical Sketches, Resumes, Curriculum Vitae
  • Appendices

The “Authorization to Submit Form” is an internal Chaffey College document that must be prepared prior submitting a proposal. It is not submitted to the sponsoring agency. The authorization to submit form is routed through directors and senior administrators who review critical elements of the grant application (i.e. abstract, proposal narrative and budget).

Approvals on the authorization to submit form certify that the proposed work is consistent with the college’s mission, goals and policies and that all faculty and staff involved in the proposal have agreed to participate, to accept the obligations and commitments described in the proposal and to perform the work in accordance with the college’s and the sponsor’s policies. The form is routed with the required supporting documents no later than 10 days prior to the sponsor’s submission deadline.

Chaffey College superintendent/president and the Governing Board reserve the right to refuse or reject any grant awards which have not secured the required authorizations prior to submission.

The application cover page is an important component of a grant application because it captures critical information about the applicant institution and contains the signatures required to make the proposal a formal, certified document. If a sponsor does not require an application cover page nor requires a specific format for providing Chaffey College information, the GDM Office will provide and sign a cover letter to include with the application.

Sponsor forms and requirements: Many sponsors, especially in state and federal sectors, require completion of forms specific to their agency or level of government. These may include agency-specific budget forms, certifications and disclosure of lobbying activities among others.

Some sponsors require statements addressing the General Education Provisions Act (GEPA) and the Government Performance and Reporting Act (GPRA). GEPA and GPRA documents do not have a specific format, but are general statements assuring the sponsor that Chaffey College has provisions and policies in place to address the requirements of these federal Acts. These statements are usually included in the attachments section of a proposal application.

Abstract - The abstract is generally a one-page description of the major objectives and purpose of the proposed project. It is used for a variety of purposes. Sponsors often use the abstract to assign the proposal to the appropriate review panel. Reviewers use it to gain an initial perspective of the key concepts of the proposal. After funding is secured, the abstract may be used for entry in national databases that are indexed and available for public searches. Chaffey College may also use information from the abstract for informational purposes including Governing Board agendas and public press releases.

Proposal Narrative - The proposal narrative is the core of any proposal application. The proposal narrative contains a detailed program description, including an explanation of the objectives, a description of the target population (if any) and the activities or services that will be performed by the applicant. The proposal narrative can be divided into specific sections which may include some or all of the following:

  1. Statement of Need - identifies the problem to be addressed by the grant if funded based on verified data and evidence.
  2. Objectives - are measurable outcomes anticipated as a result of the project's activities. Objectives may be linked to over-arching project goals. For example, the projects goal may be to increase college completion rates of students served by the project. The specific objective related to that goal may be to increase participants' persistent rates. Therefore, a measurable objective might read: "80% of participants will persist from one academic year to the next."
  3. Significance of the project - describes the intended impact the project will have. It is directly related to the problems identified and described in the statement of need.
  4. Plan of operation/statement of work - describes the specific activities which will take place to address the needs identified. This section provides details of the specific services and activities which will take place. Sponsors may require applicants to provide a timeline or work plan outlining when each activity will occur and who will be responsible for carrying out those activities.
  5. Applicant and community support - identifies the resources (i.e. staff time, space, facilities, in-kind donations, etc.) the applicant institution and outside partners will contribute to the project. Support should identify tangible assets, goods and/or services.
  6. Personnel section - identifies key faculty, staff and administrators who will engage in the project. Personnel may include existing campus employees who will contribute time and effort to the project or describe new employee positions which will be added as a result of the award. In either case, this section should provide details about the qualifications and experience of key personnel.
  7. Evaluation plan - describes the processes and methods the applicant will employ to measure the effectiveness of the project in achieving the objectives identified in the proposal. Results from the Evaluation Plan are often submitted to the sponsoring agency as part of the annual reporting requirements.

The proposal narrative is the section of the application which the review panel will read and consider in deciding the proposals merit and whether or not to fund the project. Proposals are generally ranked on a point system which will vary from sponsor to sponsor. Some programs assign specific point values to specific sections of the proposal narrative, i.e. statement of need (25 points), Objective (10 points), etc. It is generally good practice to place more weight (i.e. more text and content) on those sections of the proposal narrative which have a higher point value.

Budget and Budget Justification - Each proposal must include a detailed budget which identifies all proposed costs required to carry out the activities and services described in the Proposal Narrative. Budgets must comply with the sponsor’s guidelines and Chaffey College’s business and accounting policies. Budget line items must be detailed and explicit. For example, travel costs for transfer students to visit a university campus might include the real cost for bus rental and a set stipend for lunch based on college meal reimbursement rates for the number of students and chaperones attending the event.

The budget justification is a narrative description of the need for each specific cost and how those costs were estimated. For example, the need for a specific activity, like student travel, may be implied in the Proposal Narrative, but the implications may not be apparent to the review panelists. The need must be made explicit and fully justified in the Budget Justification. For example, the cost for bus rental and meals or meal stipends for student travel to tour a university campus is considered appropriate and allowable for a proposed project which seeks to increase student transfer rates.

Guidance for drafting a realistic budget and budget justification

Biographical Sketches, Resumes & Curriculum Vitae - Some sponsors will require applicants to provide detailed information about the key personnel, including the project director, along with the proposal. Sponsors like the National Science Foundation and National Institutes of Health require detailed information in a specific format for the biographical sketches. Other sponsors may require a shorter resume-style versus longer, more detailed curriculum vitae.

Appendices - The appendices are used to include additional documents which support the objectives of the project. For example, they may include letters of commitment from the institution or partners, brochures, examples of exhibits, performances, etc. Some sponsors and programs disallow appendices and will disqualify proposals which include them, so read the application guidelines very carefully if you intend to include additional documentation.

The budget is a line item account of the costs required to conduct the services, activities and/or research of the proposed project. The budget includes direct costs related to the project, facilities and administrative costs (F&A a.k.a. indirect costs) and committed cost-sharing.

Costs must be directly related to the performance and activities of the project and deemed allowable by the sponsor, Chaffey College policy and OMB Circular A-21

Cost estimates should be based on real-time estimates from bids/quotes, catalog prices, online retailers/services, Chaffey College vendor agreements and/or historical or current costs. For multi-year budgets, escalation costs for non-personnel expenditures should be calculated at three percent per year.

Project Personnel

Follow the sponsor's guidelines and Chaffey College policies when calculating the salaries and wages of personnel who will be paid by the project. The salary section should include only existing college employees and new positions resulting from the award. Salary and wage costs associated with non-Chaffey personnel must be treated either as consultant costs or as a subcontract.

All grant awards will abide by Chaffey College fiscal policies and procedures regardless of increases which may have been projected for multiple year awards. For example, if the college implements cost of living and merit salary freeze due to budget constraints, all grant funded projects will abide by this policy even if the project budget allows for increases. Primary contact/project directors may reallocate unused funds to other budget categories at the discretion of their supervisor and the sponsoring agency.

For management, faculty, confidential and classified employees in a step-based pay plan, budget for annual range adjustments first, and merit increases where applicable.


Annual Range Adjustment


Merit Increase

5% if applicable


Annual Range Adjustment


Merit Increase

5% if applicable


Annual Range Adjustment


Merit Increase

5% if applicable


Annual Range Adjustment


Merit Increase

5% if applicable


Annual Range Adjustment



If a proposal budget includes salaries, it must also include the cost of benefits associated with those salaries. Benefit rates are expressed as a percentage of the salary or wage, plus the annual cost of health and welfare. The standard benefit rates include either State Teachers' Retirement System (STRS) or Public Employees Retirement System (PERS) contributions, Federal Insurance Contribution Act (FICA), Medicare, State Unemployment Insurance (SUI) and Workers Compensation. 

For multi-year budgets, salaries in years beyond budget year one should include range adjustments and merit increases as applicable. Benefits rates should reflect salary increases as appropriate. Benefits rates included in grant proposal budgets are estimates based on actual benefits costs adjusted for anticipated projected annual increases. Please note, the benefits rates included in a grant proposal may differ from the actual rates. Only the actual benefits costs will be charged to a grant award.

Please contact the GDM Office and/or payroll for assistance in calculating specific salary and benefit rate projections.

Materials and supplies are consumable items (e.g., books, chemicals, laboratory glass, brochures, handouts, etc.) used to carry out the services, activities and/or research described in the proposal narrative.

Materials and supplies should be categorized into broad categories. For example, a single line item for glassware may be used to describe the total cost for sets of beakers, microscope slides and petri dishes. The description of the number and types of glassware should be included in the budget justification.

Costs for supplies should include the purchase price for the items, applicable sales tax and shipping & handling. Appropriate methods for estimating costs include price quotes, catalog pricing or historical costs for similar projects.

Costs for materials and supplies must be specific to the project and should not include general or miscellaneous items.

The federal government defines equipment as any non-expendable item, unit or system costing more than $5,000 and with a useful life of more than one year. Individual sponsors may apply additional restrictions on the purchase of equipment or supplies. For example, some sponsors may disallow the purchase of personal computers or office furniture or may impose a unit cost different from the federal definition. If no additional restrictions are published in the request for applications, adhere to the federal definition.

The cost for equipment includes item cost, tax, shipping & handling, delivery and installation. Appropriate cost estimates include vendor quotes and catalog pricing.

To allow for greater flexibility in purchasing equipment, it is best avoid listing specific manufacturers, makes or model numbers. If it is not possible to describe the equipment without referencing specific models or manufacturers, be certain to add the phrase "or equivalent" at the end of the description.

Do not include general office equipment (i.e. computers, laptops, printers, etc.) in this category.

Travel costs must be directly related and beneficial to the proposed project. Appropriate costs for travel may include fieldwork, site visits or travel to related conferences and workshops.

According to Chaffey College policy, all travel must receive prior approval. Contact your department chair or supervisor to obtain a Travel and Conference Request Form.

Please refer to the Chaffey College travel guidelines for additional details.

Travel includes attendance at workshops, seminars, conventions, conferences, or other meetings, which are a requirement of the position and of interest to the district.
Employees must obtain approval by the appropriate administrator prior to registering or prepaying for any travel related expenses. Estimated travel expenses over $1,000 and/or out of state travel must be approved by the appropriate administrator and the superintendent/president.

Approved travel and conference requests should be submitted to accounting services at the earliest time possible, but no later than ten working days prior to registration deadlines or any other prepayment deadline to provide sufficient time for processing. The district will prepay for registration fees, hotel, and airfare if the airfare is booked through the district’s designated travel agency. The travel and conference form must include a copy of the brochure, flyer, agenda or some type of communication which includes date, location, cost, itinerary, vendor name, address and contact person. If hotel prepayment is requested, include the room rate, tax, and to whom the check should be made payable and hotel address. Also, include a copy of the registration form and/or confirmation number if available.

Employees are required to submit completed travel and conference forms to accounting services no later than 30 days after travel is concluded. Any form submitted after July 15th for prior year travel will not be reimbursed. The travel and conference form must be completed, signed, and accompanied with all the appropriate documentation and original receipts to receive timely reimbursement. Receipts are required for all prepayment expenses and reimbursable expenses with the exception of meals. For liability reasons, all employees are required to complete and submit a travel and conference form even if there is no cost to the district or a reimbursement owed to the employee.

Salary enhancement shall not be authorized for travel purposes when it would exceed the normal working day(s).

When scheduling air transportation for district travel, it is preferred that all reservations be arranged through the district’s designated travel agency. The accounting office will provide information on the current agency. If an employee chooses to personally purchase airfare, the employee will be reimbursed upon completion of the travel and submittal of the travel and conference form with all of the appropriate documentation/receipts. The employee shall request a standard or coach airfare. The district will reimburse the employee for one baggage at the standard rate (receipt required). Additional baggage and/or overweight fees will be the responsibility of the employee.

Employees performing authorized travel involving the use of their own vehicle shall be reimbursed for mileage at the current IRS official rate. Employees must possess a valid California driver’s license and provide the district with proof of personal automobile insurance coverage. Acceptable documentation is a copy of the employee’s insurance card. When computing mileage, the shortest distance should be used between home and the travel destination, or between Chaffey College and the destination. If the employee does not both leave and return to his/her regular work location, the total miles driven less regular commute miles will be reimbursed.

A copy of the driving directions printout must accompany any travel and conference request which includes mileage reimbursement.

When more than one employee attends the same event, carpooling is encouraged. If an employee chooses to use a personal vehicle in lieu of air travel, the reimbursement request cannot exceed the cost of the lowest coach airfare and a copy of the airfare quote should be included in the travel and conference document packet prior to travel. The total cost of transportation will be considered and reviewed on a case-by-case basis.

Gas and mileage for personal vehicles should be calculated at $ .56 per mile effective January 1, 2021.

Employees shall be reimbursed when on approved travel and conference for the district for actual and necessary meal expenses for an amount not to exceed $55 a day according to the following breakdown: breakfast $15, lunch $15, and dinner $25. If meals are included in the cost of a conference, workshop or other travel event, the meal reimbursement will be reduced accordingly. No receipts are required for meal reimbursement.

Banquet meals that are an official part of the conference and have prescribed fees which exceed the meal limitation amount as previously designated may be reimbursed at actual cost. No reimbursement shall be allowed for costs of meals substituted for the banquet meals for which fees have been paid.

Lodging shall be reimbursed for authorized overnight travel. Reimbursement shall not exceed the rate for a standard room. Room upgrades will be the responsibility of the employee. Conference/government rates shall be requested upon reservation.

Employees are required to use the most cost-effective method of transportation. The actual cost of taxi service, shuttle service, and parking will be reimbursed upon submission of completed travel and conference forms along with original receipts. Reasonable and customary tips are acceptable but cannot exceed 20 percent. If a car rental is necessary, please provide a written justification upon completion of travel.

Other business-related expenses incurred while on approved travel may be reimbursed, depending on the facts and circumstances related to the necessity of the purchase. At a minimum, the expense must be directly related to the travel event. Any additional gratuities that are not previously addressed will be the responsibility of the employee.

Participant Support Costs, such as travel for field trips, workshops or conferences, are allowable. Participant support costs may include stipends, meal allowances, travel allowances, bus rental and registration fees paid on behalf of participants engaging in the activities. Participant support costs should be included in the appropriate line item. For example, the costs for bus rental, lodging and related meals should be included in Travel. The cost for stipends or registration fees should be included under other direct costs, and so on.

Some sponsors exclude participant support costs from the modified total direct cost (MTDC) calculation for facilities and administrative costs (F&A). Therefore, it is important to verify sponsors' policies regarding whether or not these costs should be treated as direct costs.

Other direct costs include costs items such as human subject honoraria, consultants, subawards, equipment or space rental, service agreements, renovations, etc.

Consultants are persons or experts contracted by a grant to perform a service or activity (i.e. expert speaker, external evaluator, etc.). They are not employees of the college but are responsible for performing a portion of the work described in the proposal narrative. Paid employees of Chaffey College are not eligible to serve as consultants on grant projects.

Consultants should not be accounted for in the Personnel section, but listed in the Consultant or other direct cost category.

Estimates for consultant costs should be documented in a written quote or letter and include the total cost for services along with a description of the work that will be performed.

Subawards are issued as part of a grant proposal when Chaffey College partners with another institution that will perform a portion of the work on a grant project. Subawards should be included as a line item under the Other Direct Cost category. If more than one subaward will be issued, a total for all subawards (including direct and indirect costs) should be included and the individual awardees and amounts should be described in the Budget Justification.

Facilities and administrative (F&A) Costs, also referred to as indirect costs, overhead, overhead costs or administrative costs. Reimbursement for actual college expenses that support extramural activities but cannot be directly charged to a specific grant or contract. F&A costs result from shared services such as libraries, plan operations and maintenance, utility costs, general department and sponsored projects administrative expenses and deprecation or use allowances for buildings and equipment.

Chaffey College has a federally negotiated F&A Cost rate of 30 percent.

How to Calculate
When developing a proposal budget, the F&A rate of 30 percent should be applied to the modified total direct cost (MTDC) and included as a line item. The MTDC includes all costs for the project minus the cost for equipment, i.e. single items costing more than $5,000 and with a useful life of more than one year as per the example below.

Line Item Cost

















Total Direct Costs (TDC)


Modified Total Direct Cost (MTDC)


F&A Rate 30% x $37,000


Total Costs (TDC plus F&A)


Some sponsors and programs restrict or prohibit applicants from recovering F&A costs. Sponsor F&A restrictions must be clearly documented in the request for proposals, proposal guidelines, application guidelines, federal register, sponsor's website or another official document. If the sponsor has no official policies regarding F&A costs, applicants must apply the full F&A rate to the proposal budget.

Chaffey College may participate in proposal applications with partnering institutions where each of the partners receives a portion of the total award in order to conduct the activities and services detailed in the program narrative. There are two situations under which Chaffey College may engage in partner proposals. Firstly, the College may serve as the lead institution. As the lead institution, Chaffey College is the primary recipient of the total award and is responsible for the administration and reporting requirements of the grant. The College distributes grant funds to each partner by issuing subawards. Secondly, Chaffey College may agree to partner with an institution that will serve as the lead institution. Under these circumstances, Chaffey College receives a subaward from the lead institution in return for the work conducted by our campus. In both scenarios, the College requires specific documentation for the application.

Chaffey College as the Lead Institution

The following information must be received from each partner institution at least ten (10) full business days prior to the submission of an application to allow sufficient time to finalize the application and forms. While not all documents may be submitted to the sponsor, Chaffey College requires the following documentation to assure compliance with the government performance and reporting act and the college’s budgeting services and accounting policies.

  1. Each partner will provide a signed Letter of Intent from the appropriate authorizing official at the partnering institution (i.e. grants office, president/superintendent, etc.). The letter of intent documents the partner’s institutional approval and intent to participate in the grant if funded.
  2. The statement of work is a one- to three-page narrative which identifies the partner institution and describes the specific activities and services it will perform within a given time frame as a result of the subaward. The Statement of Work will provide a timeline for completion of activities and a schedule for reporting results to the primary applicant, Chaffey College.
  3. Each partner must also provide a detailed Budget and Budget Justification listing and describing all expenditures for the subaward that will be issued if the grant is successfully funded.

When Chaffey College agrees to participate as a partner with another institution who will serve as the lead applicant, the documents below must be circulated on campus for authorization and signature approval just like a full proposal for which Chaffey College is the primary applicant. In these circumstances, the following documents must be routed for approval and submitted to the lead institution:

  1. Authorization to Submit (internal routing only; not submitted to lead institution)
  2. Letter of Intent
  3. Abstract from the Lead Institution
  4. Chaffey College Statement of Work
  5. Budget and Budget Justification