October 18, 2017

Applying for a Discovery Grant

SPA’s Jackie Davis led the third colloquium in the SPA series on Friday, October 6, 2017 in Bracken Library. Alongside her was Tammy Hall, vice president of the Discovery Group and grant committee chair and Cathy Whaley, director of the Northeast Indiana Area Health Education Center (NEI-AHEC) as well as a current and former grant recipient.

What is the Discovery Group?
Jackie Davis leads the discussion
Davis describes the group as “a collaborative philanthropic group established at the Ball State Foundation. They do work through the foundation and support projects and programs at Ball State.”

Discovery funding is only for Ball State faculty and staff. The funds come from a pool of annual contributions and are considered external funding.

The overall purpose of the Discovery Group is to connect its members to Ball State University, inspire women to become leaders in philanthropy and to provide financial support for innovative Ball State projects and programs.

Application Details
Important information to include in your proposal:
  • Purpose/implementation plan
  • Measurable goals/objectives
  • Evaluation Plan
  • BSU student impact/involvement
  • Clear connection to Ball State’s Centennial Commitment  (undergrad focused)
  • Sustainability plan
  • Detailed budget and budget justification

Tammy Hall and Cathy Whaley answer audience questions
Advice for Applying
“Your proposal needs to be telling your story. It needs to be clear and concise, while stating what you are going to do, how you will accomplish your goals, how the results will be measured and how much it is going to cost” said Davis.

Whaley, as a current and former grant recipient, said that it is important that you find out “who are the Discovery Grant people, who is on the board and what are their philanthropic reasons?” This will help you better understand the audience that will be reading and considering your proposal. It is important to know who you are writing for.

Whaley went on to state that when applying for a grant she always makes sure to hit on keywords from the organization’s mission in her proposal. Be sure to address and incorporate as many as possible into your own project. For example, with the Discovery Grant, Whaley made sure that her project was student centered and followed the Centennial Commitment.

Additional Advice:
  • Have someone outside of Ball State and even outside of academia read your proposal, because the board is not made up of Ball State faculty. 
  • Synthesize goals/objectives down to the most important things you want the board to know.
  • Funding is for a one year project, so be clear with your timeline. Avoid listing long term objectives that go past the one year mark. 
  • The maximum award you can receive is $25,000 and you may only hold one award at a time, so plan accordingly.

Scoring Rubric
In addition to Davis’ and Whaley’s advice, it is crucial that you look at the Discovery Group’s scoring rubric, because this is the document the board uses to decide which proposals to consider. It helps everyone who submits a proposal be on the same page, and the reviewers can better compare apples to apples. Be sure to see how your proposal stacks up against their criteria and make changes where necessary.

Examples of projects that score high:
  • Student centered
  • Impact a high number of students 
    • Something small, such as students reading a pamphlet you create is not considered as impact.
  • Involve community interaction
  • Entrepreneurial type projects
  • Immersive learning
  • Interdisciplinary projects (2 colleges working together)
The Discovery Grant board uses this rubric to score each proposal. After scoring, they take the highest scoring proposals and invite them to give a live presentation at their annual meeting. This presentation will be what essentially convinces the members of the Discovery Group to vote for your proposal. After the presentations all members vote, and the proposals with the most votes are the ones that get funded. The number of funded proposals will also vary from year to year based on the amount of contributions received that year.

If you decide to pursue a Discovery Grant be sure to keep an eye on their timeline!

Timeline for Grant Proposals

The grant period Discovery Awards will be from May 1, 2018 to June 30, 2019.
  • October 1, 2017 – Cycle to submit proposals begins. Please work with your Sponsored Programs Proposal Manager for proposal development, review and budget preparation.
  • December 1, 2017, 5:00 PM – All Final proposals due as a single pdf file emailed to jsdavis@bsu.edu. You will receive confirmation of proposal receipt. 
  • January, 2018 – The grants committee will select the top proposals for presentation at the Discovery Annual Meeting; all applicants will be notified of decision at this time. 
  • March, 2018 – The selected proposals are presented at the Discovery Annual Meeting. Following a vote by the Discovery Members attending the meeting the grant awards will be announced that day.

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