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Research and Sponsored Programs

Pursuing External Grant Funding

Step 1: Finding Funding Opportunities

The first question faculty typically ask as they begin the grant-seeking process is how to identify funding opportunities. Various online databases provide basic summary information, but you ought to look into any promising leads by visiting the sponsor’s website directly. Databases, while helpful, may not always have the latest updates.

Grants Resource Center (GRC)
GRC’s proprietary search engine, GrantSearch, includes 1,500 private and federal funding opportunities screened for higher education eligibility. RSP pays for a subscription to access this database. Please contact Leslie Hunter for login information.

Foundation Directory Online (FDO)
Use FDO to learn about private grant-makers and the grants they've awarded. CWU Foundation pays for a subscription to access this database. Please contact Traci Goff for login information.

For additional federal funding opportunities you may also want to check:

Grant Opportunities (

Another place to look for grant opportunities is through your discipline-specific associations.


Step 2: Pre-Proposal Approval

Once you have identified a sponsor that you would like to submit a proposal to or will be resubmitting a proposal, the following items should be prepared as soon as possible to begin the pre-approval process:

  • Pre-Proposal Approval Form - click here
  • Project Summary (less than one page)
  • Draft budget 
  • Documentation of any match/in-kind and the source (if applicable)

Once the pre-proposal approval form has been executed, RSP will create an internal routing form (IRF) for sign-off by the following individuals:

  • Principal Investigator(s) 
  • Department Chair(s)/Director(s)
  • Academic Dean(s)
  • Dean, Graduate Studies and Research
  • Vice President of Business & Financial Affairs
  • Provost / Vice President of Academic & Student Life

If you have any questions while preparing these pre-proposal approval materials, please contact RSP.


Step 3: Proposal Preparation

Research and Sponsored Programs (RSP) is here to provide consultation and technical assistance as you prepare your proposal. We strive to provide individualized assistance—which means the manner in which we assist you throughout the process will depend upon your unique needs and prior grant-writing experience. The single most important thing you can do to make this a successful collaboration is to meet with RSP early in the process so that we may determine an appropriate plan for assisting you. Below are some common ways in which RSP assists in the process—please discuss these or any other needs you might have with us.

  • Discussing possible funding sources and the relative fit of your project with various sponsors.
  • Locating and reviewing sponsor application guidelines with you, ensuring we have an understanding of what is required by the sponsor.
  • Providing guidance and/or templates for the preparation of various aspects of the proposal.
  • Providing samples of previously funded applications, when available.
  • Developing your proposal budget.
  • Completing routine, administrative portions of the application, such as cover sheets, budget pages, etc.
  • Providing boilerplate language regarding the institution.
  • Reviewing drafts and providing editorial assistance, if requested. Please allow enough time for review and revision prior to submission.
  • Facilitating the inclusion of required institutional letters.
  • Reviewing the final proposal and budget to ensure it meets sponsor and CWU guidelines and policies.


Step 4: Proposal Submission

Before an application for a grant to a government agency, foundation, corporation, or other entity can be submitted, it must be routed for approval and submitted to Research and Sponsored Programs (RSP).

Applicants are encouraged to begin the approval process well in advance of the proposal deadline. RSP reserves the right to withdraw applications that have not received institutional endorsements prior to submission. If you have any questions regarding this process, please contact RSP.

Sponsor guidelines will usually dictate the how your proposal is to be submitted.

Many sponsors now have electronic submission systems. RSP is happy to interact with these submission systems for you, uploading your required information and documents. Some submission systems allow only the Authorized Organizational Representative (AOR) to submit proposals, and require an institutional registration in advance. For most of these systems, RSP is already registered. These systems include Grants.Gov, NSF’s FastLane, and NASA’s NSPIRES.

For paper (hardcopy) submissions, RSP is happy to submit your application to the sponsor on your behalf, covering any associated shipping costs.

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