Grant Writing

Grants are available from the public and private sector for implementing and growing educational biotech programs. Unfortunately, grant applications are frequently unsuccessful. The following information may help you achieve greater-than-average success when applying for grants.

Although large grants have multiple sections and require information about all facets of your program, the final grant application materials can then be used to complete several small- or medium-sized grant applications.

Grant Selection

Look for grants where the stated objectives match your own. Some proposals may require an initial two- to three-page letter of inquiry that summarizes your ideas for the different sections of the grant.

When you have identified a grant, realistically state what you will do with the award. Read and re-read the grant guidelines and follow them exactly as you proceed. Adhere to all the length and formatting restrictions and filing deadlines. Go back to the guidelines periodically and read them again.

Grant Outlines

Most grant proposals include these sections:

  • Title Page: specified in the grant guidelines
  • Abstract: a one- or two-paragraph summary of the proposal
  • Introduction: a lengthier proposal summary with necessary background, project potential, and scope
  • Narrative: subject to grant guidelines; may include objectives, methods, timeline, and other sections that require detailed answers
  • Budget: line items for all anticipated expenses
  • Appendices: investigator and personnel CVs, support letters, articles, awards, etc.

Writing the Proposal

Allow enough time to complete the written proposal and recruit knowledgeable colleagues to help gather information, write sections, proofread, and perform other component tasks. Ask several informed individuals to proofread the final documents.

As you’re writing, be specific and add adequate detail. You can edit the material later to make the content clear and concise. The writing should be easy for a typical reviewer to comprehend and the document should be visually attractive.

Submission and Re-Submission

If your grant is not initially approved and funded, re-submit it when possible or re-work the material to apply for other grants.

Funding from a few small grants can add up to the award from a larger grant. Small, local companies or foundations may have donation programs and short grant applications, and they may be interested in supporting local efforts. Your students may also be able to help establish strategic local alliances.

Grant Awards and Funding

When your grant is funded, create a budget to help you spend the funds wisely and maximize their value.

When purchasing from a grant:

  • Get to know your local sales representatives
  • Consolidate your purchasing with a single supplier to take advantage of volume discounts
  • Make sure your suppliers are on approved vendor lists
  • Ask your district to work with the Fisher Science Education team

“In-kind” or “Matching” grants can also help you spend wisely on:

  • Equipment, supplies/reagents, computers, and office supplies
  • Employee time (mentors, advisory committee members, speakers, etc.)



The above information is the property of Ellyn Daugherty, founder of the San Mateo Biotechnology Career Pathway (SMBCP) and author of Biotechnology: Science for the New Millennium, Second Edition, 2017. For more information, visit