Sample Module
Dr. Pavel Zemliansky - ENC6247


This module which will last approximately three weeks will allow us to learn about some fundamentals of proposal writing and begin thinking about the kinds of work that writing a successful proposal requires. During this module, you will also meet with your client (f2f or virtually) and discuss with that client the project on which your team will be working.

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this module, the students will:

  • Form writing teams for working on the proposal project
  • Identify the mission, goals, objectives, strengths and weaknesses of your client organization
  • Articulate the proposal project after meeting with the client's representative
  • Research and write a proposal needs statement


Formal Deliverable (Collaborative)

  • a one-page proposal needs statement (includes a first draft, a peer review session, and a final drafts)

Informal Deliverables (Individual and team)

  • discussion forum postings
  • responses to your classmates posts on the discussion forums

Your availability for the bi-weekly live conferences

Examining Existing Knowledge About Proposal Writing

This discussion prompt is based on the Introduction to our course text, Grant Seeking in an Electronic Age. The purpose of this discussion assignment is to begin thinking about what we already know about proposal writing and then adding to that existing knowledge the new information, ideas, and principles presented in the book.

Please read the Introduction (pp. 1-12) and consider the following: 1) what do you already know or understand about writing professional proposals of any kind? think about experiences as writers stories you heard from others, and just your own thinking about what it means to write a successful proposal of any kind. 2) Next, consider your own experiences in the light of the information presented in the Introduction, particularly The Grant Seeking Process model presented in the text. What is new to you in that model, and what have you seen or tried before?; How does the information presented in the Introduction connect with your knowledge about writing in general? If your experiences differ from the models presented in the book, please discuss those differences and possible reasons for them.

You style and tone should be informal and conversational, but readable by an audience of professional peers.

Learning About Your Client Organization

Please begin by visiting the discussion forum where responses to the previous assignment were posted. Read through those responses and, if you have not already done so, try to post 2-3 thoughtful and substantive comments on your classmates' posts. Please remember that the purpose of those comments is to create an ongoing conversation about the issues that matter to this class.

Then, address the assignment below:

Next week, you will meet with the representative of your client, for whom you will write a proposal document. In preparation for this meeting, we will create a plan which will allow us to gather relevant information necessary for the creation of a successful proposal. This assignment is based on Chapter 1 of the class text.

Please read Chapter 1: "Strategic Planning and Audience Analysis," and consider the following questions. Post your responses to those questions by adding a reply to this discussion topic:

  • The assumption that the chapter makes is that in order to start a proposal project, the writer needs to learn as much as possible about the client. Based on the chapter, what information will you need to begin planning the project?
  • Since you will be meeting with your client next week, draft 4-5 specific questions for the client which would enable you to obtain the kinds of information you outlined in your response to the previous question.

Writing the Needs Statement: Team Discussion Board Post

You have now been assigned to a writing team. You will work with your team for the rest of the course on you proposal project. Unless there are some serious perturbations within your team, we will not be changing the teams' composition. To help you get used to one another and to help your team to coalesce, I am offering you this informal team-writing assignment. Please do everything as you would normally do it when posting an individual discussion board piece, except, for the following:

  • Some time before the post is due, visit your team's page, where you have access to your own discussion board, wiki page, and messaging system. I recommend doing this about 48 hours before the due date for this assignment. Please note that you can work asynchronously on your team's space, which means that you do not all have to be there at the same time.
  • Each team member should contribute thoughts and ideas towards the eventual discussion forum post outlined below
  • After you have enough material for a post, appoint one of the members of your team to post your thoughts to the large class discussion board.

After reading Chapter 2, in a 400-500 word post, discuss your understanding of the purpose and nature of the proposal needs statement. Specifically, consider the following questions:

  • Based on the chapter, what is the main purpose of the needs statement?
  • What is its intended audience or audiences?
  • What structure does a needs statement typically follow (provide an example from the chapter?)
  • What questions about writing needs statements do you have?

Read Chapter 3

As you prepare the first draft of the needs statement, please read Chapter 3 of the textbook. Consider what kinds of research sources and data might be useful for you in making your case. Conduct some preliminary research following the advice in the textbook, and include the results of that research in your needs statement.

Needs Statement, First Draft

This is the description of the first draft of the Needs Statement document. By now, you have read the description of the final draft of the project, so the first draft should take you towards the completion of the overall project.

Based on what you know so far about the project you chose (both from the meeting with the clients last week and from your research, begin drafting the needs statements. In your draft, try to address the following questions:

  • Based on your knowledge of the project now, what are its specific needs?
  • How do you know that these needs exist (use your research to explain them)

If you like, please revisit the relevant chapter(s) in the textbook before and while you write.

Please aim for about 500-700 words for this draft. Write with the understanding that, while this is a first draft that will be changed, its tone and voice needs to be appropriate for its purpose and the audience it is trying to address. As always, if you have any questions, please let me know.

After you write the first draft of the document, I will ask you to review it in a peer-review session, and then, to revise it. Therefore, while you are expected to treat this assignment seriously, you are also expected to treat it as a first draft that will be changed later. The purpose of every draft is to get a project started and to flesh out the main ideas of a future finished document.

Needs Statement Peer Review

You are asked to review a draft of the Needs Statement prepared by another writing team. Each writing team will be assigned to review another writing team's draft. Once you have your assignment, please go to their draft posted on Google Docs, and individually, add comments to the margins of the draft. In your review, be guided by the review sheet on page 49 in our textbook.

You do not need to assign ratings to the draft (excellent, good, etc.), but you do need to try to cover the aspects of the document mentioned in the review sheet.

Needs Statement, Final Draft


The purpose of this assignment is to create a 1-page write-up describing, in some detail, the specific problem which your eventual proposal document will seek to solve. The main challenge in writing this statement is to keep the focus of your writing on identifying and explaining the problem and on identifying and explaining why and how you would like to solve it.


Your primary audience for this document is your client organization. Your secondary audience are potential funding agencies. While the needs statement, in the form in which you will write it here, are not typically included in the application that is sent to the funding agency, understanding hoe to explain your need to those agencies will be crucial. Moreover, when creating the pre-proposal and the proposal narrative, you will be able to use some of the information from the needs statement to make a case for your proposal.

Length, Format, etc.

The final version of your needs statement needs to be about one page long, single-spaced. Contrary to what you might think, creating a short but effective piece of writing is not an easy task. It is possible, and even likely, that your first draft is going to be longer than the final one. Because this is a professional document meant for a professional audience, it needs to be grammatically correct and formatted properly. Our conversations with the clients have indicated that, at least at this stage in the writing process, all external sources you use need to be either foot-noted or cited using an accepted citation style, such as MLA or APA. The specific way you will decide to cite and document your sources is up to you, but you must choose some format to cite them.

Module 1 Reflection Post

In a 400-500 word post, please discuss what you are taking away from this learning module, mentioning successes, challenges, and questions you have.