Guidelines

Grant Proposal Guidelines

The Ambassador’s Fund for Catholic Education encourages proposals for programmatic initiatives that spur fresh thinking and prompt new action in Catholic education and ministry.

Grants are awarded on a one-time basis and generally for a one-year period.

The Ambassador’s Fund for Catholic Education will also approach appropriate organizations with funding conversations to explore emerging concepts that will strengthen Catholic education or affect Catholic youth. It will also invite funding discussions on programs that could raise the knowledge of our Catholic faith and make it a more meaningful part of our lives.

The Ambassador’s Fund for Catholic Education does not fund:

  • Individuals, scholarships, financial aid, faculty or staff graduate degree tuitions
  • Non-program-related capital projects, improvements, or renovations
  • Capital campaigns
  • General and annual operating funds and other forms of annual budget relief
  • Reimbursable(s) on prior expenses, i.e., prior to July 1 of the year requested for funding
  • Special fundraising events benefitting individual schools or organizations
  • Endowment funds
  • Debt reduction
  • Political organizations, parties, or causes
  • Foundations, with very limited exceptions
  • Stand-alone conferences, with very limited exceptions
  • Technology acquisition, replacement, or upgrades (with very limited exceptions)
  • Non-program-related staff positions

The FAQs, below, address one or more of these restrictions and should be reviewed before preparing a grant proposal.

All proposals are to be submitted through the online application portal. No mailed copies will be evaluated.

GRANT APPLICATION PROCESS

The Ambassador’s Fund for Catholic Education welcomes proposals from qualified applicants through the following process:

LOI (Letter of Inquiry) — Optional Step:

Organizations interested in applying for a grant are encouraged to complete an LOI form to determine eligibility and to describe the project or program that will be expanded further if invited to submit a full proposal. This is an optional step.

The intent of the LOI is to assist both the grant applicant and grant administrators in determining grant suitability and eligibility before a full proposal is prepared. Precise presentation of the project’s broad goal(s) is essential and should not be confused with the methods to carry out the proposed program or project. The LOI responses would be expanded if the applicant is invited to follow up with a proposal. Invitation to proceed to the proposal stage does not imply or guarantee that a grant award will be forthcoming.

The LOI may be submitted at any time throughout the year. This is a rolling process. Organizations are urged to plan a suitable amount of time to prepare a full proposal if invited to do so after receiving feedback on the LOI.

This preliminary step should be helpful to project directors and proposal writers in thinking through the particulars of a proposed program or project before moving directly to proposal. Any applicant is free to submit a proposal without completing the LOI step, but it should be especially helpful to those new to the Ambassador’s Fund, to those who are uncertain about a match between the scope of a project and Fund interests, and to those who have not been successful in prior years.

Unlike the proposal application submitted through the online portal, the LOI is submitted by completing the form accessible either here or below on this page.  Click here for the LOI form.

Applicants may bypass the optional LOI stage and proceed directly to proposal submission.

GRANT PROPOSAL:

A complete grant proposal application for funding in the 2021-22 fiscal/academic year consists of:

  • Proposal Narrative
  • Proposal/Program Budget
  • School or Organization Balance Sheet, June 30, 2020

Optional: maximum of two one-page documents. Additional documents will not be reviewed.

Organizations are welcome to submit more than one proposal per cycle.

All proposals are submitted through the online grants management system. 

  • The proposal portal will close at 11:59 p.m. on November 20.  The portal will re-open in April for the May 3, 11:59 p.m. deadline. No extensions will be granted. No mailed proposals will be reviewed.
  • If necessary, the Director of Grants Management will follow up with grant applicants on any additional information or clarification needed to provide an accurate profile for Grant Review Committee consideration.

Grant applicants are encouraged to review the Tips and Prompts on Preparing Your Grant Proposal. All applicants or those considering applications are invited to contact the Director of Grants Management for clarification on any of the proposal elements or with questions concerning the proposal process, funded areas and purposes, budget categories, or other relevant points.

 

GRANT PROPOSAL TIMELINE:

The Ambassador’s Fund will accept proposals on two deadlines for funding of grants payable in 2021-22:


Proposal Deadline
November 20, 2020
May 3, 2021

Award Letter
March-April 2021
June-July 2021

Funds Available
July 1, 2021
August 15, 2021

 

TIPS AND PROMPTS ON PREPARING YOUR GRANT PROPOSAL

Proposal writers and project directors should review the entire Ambassador’s Fund for Catholic Education website for giving interests and examples of funded projects.

A review of this “Guidelines” tab (with FAQs) is the essential first step before drafting a proposal. Project or program purposes excluded from funding are noted, as are the reporting requirements associated with an awarded grant.

 A complete proposal application includes the proposal narrative, the proposal/project budget, and the school or organization balance sheet as of June 30, 2020. Two optional one-page/one-side documents are permitted. Organizations are permitted to submit more than one proposal each cycle.

These tips and prompts are designed to assist proposal writers and teams in framing a compelling case for support. Each element builds upon the one that precedes it. Each of these elements will be found in the online proposal template.

We recommend that all applicants create their proposals in Word and their budgets in Excel, save and print those documents when satisfied with the results, and then transfer them to the online platform. Also, be sure to print the final proposal and all attachments for your files and for future reference before exiting the platform. Grantees can “view only” a submitted proposal once submitted; no print capability is available through the system after-the-fact.

Care should be taken when determining the individual who will submit the proposal. The grants management system attaches all subsequent documents to this individual and his/her email address as the “Profile” and “Applicant.” This is the individual who, if the organization is awarded a grant, will receive all reporting forms, instructions, and deadlines. Any change in the individual associated with the awarded grant must be reported to the Director of Grants Management.

ATTACHMENTS:  Only two attachments are required, an itemized budget for how the proposed grant will be used, and the school or organization balance sheet (June 30, 2020). For the budget, identify the amounts and sources of revenue; note which sources are committed or pending. This is expected to appear as an Excel spreadsheet or as a Word document formatted appropriately. Your opportunity to explain the overall project/program budget appears in the Budget section of the proposal narrative.

PROPOSAL NARRATIVE

When developing the proposal narrative, organizations must address the elements noted below and observe the maximum word count indicated for each.

These 12 component headings and the associated prompts are presented as guides to required content composed in a traditional expository format. It is expected that, unless prompted to reply by bullet points or a numbered list, responses will be presented as a narrative, with each component building sequentially.

In addition to addressing each element in the proposal template text boxes, applicants might want to capture several related elements in a chart — e.g., Project/Program Objectives, Project Plan/Method, and Timeline — and submit it as one of the two optional one-page attachments.

Proposal Elements:

Executive Summary or Overview (maximum 100 words)

Key overall points that will be expanded in the balance of the narrative; essentially, an introduction to your proposal. Focus on the problem or situation you plan to address and provide an overview of your program/project components: target population; anticipated outcomes; statement that summarizes the scope of the relevant activities you will conduct; the program evaluation you will use; and the grant amount you are requesting. Although the Executive Summary appears first in the narrative sequence, applicants might consider composing this section as the final step.

Problem/Need Statement (maximum 450 words)

Issue, need, or opportunity you will address. Note if you are establishing the next logical step in your program or strengthening an existing one. Indicate any unique approach, supporting data, or other information pertinent to your targeted population.

Goals (maximum 100 words)

Broad, overall goal(s) you look to accomplish; context for what the funding is expected to produce. The Goal is the result of your funded program, what your program or organization will be, will have, or the positioning it will gain as a result of the funding. The Goal is NOT what you plan to do with the requested funds. If your Goal(s) statement contains an infinitive, it likely is not a Goal; it’s an action step or how-to of your Method/Plan.

Goal Examples:

  • Goal Example #1: “A school transformed by strengthened course content, innovative teaching techniques, and increased teacher retention.”
  • Goal Example #2: “A rigorous middle school science program that includes curriculum expansion, hands-on applications, industry collaborations, and faculty development.”
  • Goal Example #3: “A summer service program staffed by respected community leaders that builds teen leadership skills, personal responsibility, and community sensibility.”

Project/Program Objectives (maximum 150 words)

Specific, concrete, measurable outcomes you expect from the proposed funding. Your Objectives will state what will happen to whom, by what measure such as percentage increase or decrease, and within what timeframe. Bullet points or a numbered list would be helpful in noting each objective. How you plan to measure the success of your Objectives will appear in the Evaluation/Measurement section and, therefore, should not be included in this Project/Program Objectives section.

Project/Program Objectives Example for Goal Example #3:

“As a result of participating in a new teen summer service program, three groups of 15 to 20 students will increase their:

  • Knowledge and application of various leadership styles by 40%
  • Knowledge of economic, racial, and religious challenges faced by residents in their community by 20%
  • Knowledge of organizations and individuals working for neighborhood stability and revitalization by 50%”

Project/Program Objectives Example (one of several) for Goal Example #2:

“Grades 6-7-8 teachers will increase their content knowledge of STEM principles by 20% by January 2020, 30% by March 2020, and 35% by the end June 2020.”

Affected/Target Population (maximum 75 words)

Those benefitting from the proposed funding, any prior relationship your organization has with that population, indication of the population’s desire for the proposed funding. Indicate if partnering with another organization, why, and confirmation of the organization’s commitment to your proposed program or project.

Project Plan/Method (maximum 300 words)

Action steps or plan to accomplish your Objectives. Bullet points or numbered list would be helpful in noting each step. This is the section for infinitive-type statements, i.e., what specific actions you will take to carry out your funded program. These steps relate directly to your Measurable Objectives and to your Evaluation/Measurement.

Plan Example (one of several action steps/”how-to’s”):

“To offer a series of six intensive one-day workshops on six STEM subjects that will provide upgraded content knowledge, new teaching strategies, and supplemental instructional materials for teachers of grades 6-7-8.”

Evaluation/Measurement (maximum 100 words)

Ways you will evaluate your results – impact against stated Project/Program Objectives and Method/Plan. Be sure you identify the right population and actions to be evaluated. This is especially key if, for example, the proposal is requesting funds for faculty professional development. While the ultimate desired result is increased student achievement, the grant proposal is for faculty training. What is measured and evaluated in this example is the teacher’s increased knowledge and skills — the outcomes/objectives of a faculty member’s participation in the funded program — and how you are measuring that increased knowledge and/or skills, e.g., workshop pre-testing and post-testing; submission of sample pre- and post-workshop lesson plans on the relevant subject; workshop presenter’s scored observation of a participant’s presentation of learned content or skills.

Leadership/Staffing (maximum 100 words)

Note the individual responsible for directing the funded project and any key staff; indicate relevant credentials and any pertinent experience with similar projects.

Timeline (maximum 130 words)

Bullet points or a numbered list would be helpful in presenting your time sequence. Begin your timeline as of July 1; any preparatory work prior to July 1 is not eligible for funding.

Budget (maximum 75 words)

This is a narrative overview of the attached Budget form. Your paragraph directly addresses the key elements of the Project Plan/Method. This is your opportunity to establish the context and overall rationale for the dollars attached to your proposed project/program. Do not simply repeat the data from your Budget form.

Project/Program Sustainability (maximum 75 words)

How your project will continue to be funded, if necessary, following this grant. If so, indicate your associated strategy for, and sources of, anticipated follow-up funding.

Project Publicity (maximum 75 words)

Your plans for announcing or otherwise disseminating news of the grant, its source as the Ambassador’s Fund for Catholic Education, and its impact once awarded, in progress, and completed. Grant award letters include a separate document, “Guidelines for Referencing Grants,” which should be observed for all project publicity.

ONCE A GRANT DECISION IS MADE 

  • Grant award, decline, and defer letters are sent during March-April and June-July for each decision cycle.
  • Grantees are asked to countersign and return the grant award letter, which indicates acceptance of the terms and conditions of the grant. Particular care should be taken when reading and agreeing to the grant stipulations, indicated by the grantee representative’s initials. The countersigned letters are generally asked to be returned within four weeks.
  • Grant awards for the 2021-22 funding cycle are payable beginning July 1 and August 15, 2021, based on the November or May deadline driving the application.
  • Grantees are required to submit grant-related invoices to the Ambassador’s Fund for their grant payments. Expenses are expected to align with the approved proposal-grant budget, and they are indicated as such in a cover sheet with these details. As non-profit organizations, grantees should not be submitting invoices that indicate a sales tax was charged and paid for any item. The Fund will not reimburse on that entry.
  • All grant spending must be completed and invoices submitted by May 31 for reimbursement by June 30, 2021.
  • Grantees are required to submit two reports: an interim report on or before January 15 of the funded year, and a final report at the conclusion of the grant period, generally in June-July. No extensions will be granted. No mailed reports will be accepted. The interim and final reports are submitted through the online grants management system used to submit your proposal. Instructions and links to the report templates will be sent to the email address of the individual who submitted the proposal. Any change to the name and email address associated with the proposal must be reported to the Director of Grants Management so that reporting occurs properly and on time.

Funding Process, Application Guidelines, Proposal Tips & Prompts, and Frequently Asked Questions

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Frequently Asked Questions

Grants are awarded on a one-time, one-year basis. On occasion, a two-year grant will be considered and awarded, but the grantee must provide detailed information in the interim report on results-to-date and the projected second-year project plan for the second year of funding to be approved.

Catholic colleges: Yes, for initiatives that strengthen student understanding and practice of our Catholic faith, for example, through a series of Scripture studies, compelling theme-based retreats, rigorous examination of Catholic intellectual history, or other programs that increase appreciation of Church teaching and of its thinkers, authors, and rich insights.

Secular institutions: Yes, support is restricted to Newman Club programming at the Philadelphia-area public and private non-Catholic institutions and is generally overseen by the Archdiocese of Philadelphia Office for Catechetical Formation.

As part of the proposal process, grant applicants might be invited to meet in the Ambassador’s Fund office with the Grant Review Committee to discuss the elements of their grant proposal. This is an opportunity to respond to specific questions and to elaborate on project/program details.

With some exceptions, site visits generally occur during the course of the funded program rather than as a component of the proposal application process.

Yes, in two words, impact and sustainability.

The Grant Review Committee will be looking for the expected program results as measured against the proposal objectives (outcomes).

The committee will also look for indications of funding that will be required after the grant period ends, an associated funding strategy, and sources of anticipated follow-on funding.

Overall, the committee will be looking for concepts or problem solutions that are new, better, or different; clarity and coherence in the presentation of the case for support; a clear and solid project budget.

The Grant Review Committee will look for the connection between the proposed program/project and the budget structured to carry it out. The proposed program elements drive the budget. Applicants should not determine a desired grant award, e.g., $50,000, and create a program that backs into that amount.

Applicants should not request funding to support staff or faculty positions or for traditional needs, materials, or equipment that would be included in the annual operating budget. This would include the purchase of specific academic or student services programs that should be planned for or projected for addition over a series of years and then incorporated into the school’s operating budget of the relevant fiscal year.

Each grantee will be required to submit an interim report by January 15 of the funded year and a final report in June-July. Terms and conditions of the grant are defined in the grant award letter, which requires the countersignature of the organization’s primary officer. Reporting guidelines are noted in the grant award letter. Reports will be submitted through the online portal.

The board meets annually in February to determine awards requested in the November deadline cycle. The board evaluates grant requests from the May deadline cycle in June.

Grant funds are payable on projects/programs carried out during the July 1-June 30 academic/fiscal  year. Grantees are advised they must submit an overall invoice for their grant award, along with any project-associated invoices, to the Director of Grants Management when reimbursement funds are needed.

Grantees are expected to adhere to the proposal budget as submitted to and approved by the Ambassador’s Fund board. Any budget adjustments that surface during grant implementation require the prior approval of the Fund president.

Contact Patricia Canning, Director of Grants Management, at info@ambassadorsfund.org with questions on any aspect of Ambassador’s Fund for Catholic Education programs and guidelines.