This assignment is the penultimate assignment in the course, and it is the last assignment that requires students to start from scratch. We work from a live request for proposals (RFP) for this assignment, the “Healthy Families New York” RFP, which was provided to me by then dean of the Silver School of Social Work. This assignment has been included in every iteration of the course, as grant writing is a vital skill for the modern social worker.
Designing the assignment
In designing this task, I started from the “Healthy Families New York” RFP, using it as guidance for what sections would be needed for the grant. This was done because every grant RFP is different, what’s important to master are the various skills required for writing a successful grant. From there, I decided what must be simulated, as the students in the class don’t work in a New York-based social work agency, and what must come directly from social work best practices, as they have learned in their core courses. From there, I attempt to make things fit into the last 4-5 weeks of the course, which means limited the grant proposal to being between 7-10 pages. I also include time for the students workshop one or two of their proposals in class, as well as meeting with me during office hours for a conference to discuss revisions.
Teaching the Assignment
When I teach this assignment, we begin from the Purdue OWL’s resource on general grant writing, which is a rather good resource put together by Drs. Dennis Koyama (at the NYU School of Professional Studies) and Stacy Nall (at St. Mary’s University of Minnesota). After we have read this resource and discussed it in class, we attempt to apply that framework to the assignment. From there, I walk students through writing each section of the grant proposal, and we do a vivisection of an existing grant proposal, paying close attention to what works, how it’s structured, document design, and how language is used. After that, students begin drafting and we start workshopping and conferencing. After that, most of the class time is spent writing and revising.
Assessing this Assignment
When I assess this assignment, I’m looking that students have read, understood, and are responding to the RFP. The first year I taught this assignment, I got first drafts from students that were proposing programs not covered in the RFP—a document that is very specific about the kinds of programs that it would fund. From there, I look to see if they maintain a professional tone and have a well-polished writing style. I then look to see if they’ve been reasonable with their budget allotments. I once had a student budget over $100,000 for fuel for a year for her fleet of two Toyota Priuses, not realizing that would enough to drive a very fuel inefficient bus almost a million miles. Finally, I look at the rhetorical efficacy of each section and whether they are adhering to the micro-genre expectations. That is, does the executive summary work the way in which we expect? Does the budget look and inform like a budget? From there, I comment very, very carefully on the first two pages, marking and commenting on all issues I find. After that, I highlight other errors throughout the rest of the document for students to think about on their own, or for us to talk about in conferences. I finish by writing them a letter with their grade and my explanation of my grading and suggestions for continued improvement.