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Guidelines for Preparing a Pre-Proposal Paper

The steps required for submitting a pre-proposal are as follows:

  1. The pre-proposal will need to be developed.
  2. Prepare a budget for your project, for which you can use the Excel spreadsheet provided here although this is not needed in the case of mini-grants.
  3. Submit a cover sheet for your pre-proposal by electronic means. You should then print off a copy of this cover sheet following submission.
  4. Send in the cover sheet, the pre-proposal itself, and the budget worksheet to the chair of your faculty or department and the office of your dean, and wait to see if these are approved.
  5. Once you have received the appropriate signatures of approval, you can submit the entire pack (e.g. the approved cover sheet, the pre-proposal, and the budget spreadsheet) to the Provost’s office. It is usually permissible to email a copy of the pack to the Provost’s office, but the original documents will also need to be delivered or sent as well. 

Develop a Pre-Proposal

As well as clearly setting out your project goals and project objectives, you will need to describe the activities of the project thoroughly and make reference to any evidence that connects the project’s activities to the outcomes or results you expect.

The work you submit will be assessed by a multi-disciplinary team made up of college staff and faculty members, so it is not advisable to use any jargon that is highly technical or specialized.

It is also important your proposal describes how you will document impact (in an ideal situation this would be a mix of quantitative methods as well as narratives describing the essence or spirit of the project). You should try to keep your pre-proposal to two pages (single-sided in 1.5 line spacing). This does not include your cover sheet or budget spreadsheet.

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The information below should be contained in a pre-proposal:

Project Plan and Project Objectives

This means describing the question, opportunity or problem you will be addressing. Set out the goals and the objectives you have in mind for your project and describe the techniques, formats, and methods you intend to use to achieve these.

You will need to explain how expertise and knowledge are being transferred from your particular unit to your project and possibly the other way around. You may need to add a statement saying how your proposed project is a brand new undertaking or a continuation or a fresh approach to an existing piece of work.

Consider Your Partners, Intended Readers, and Expected Results

Who are your intended readers and who might you be working with? How are readers likely to benefit from your work? Identify any organizations you will be partnering with and anyone who will be sponsoring your project (to include monetary and in-kind support) and say what involvement these parties will have in your project. (At the stage of pre-proposal, there is no need to include letters or statements of support from sponsors or partner organizations. However, these letters/statements may be needed if you are asked to complete a full project proposal.) 

Place and Timeline

Say where your project will be undertaken and what its timeframe is likely to be.

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The People Associated with the Project

Say who the key players in your project will be (by name), list their titles and affiliations, and describe in a sentence what the role of each person is. (At the stage of pre-proposal, there is no need for a vita, but a page-long vita is likely to be needed for a full project proposal.) For some proposals, you may need to include the faculty, hourly support, PA/TA, and various staff.

You should not use any proposed funds or resources to supplant funds designated for existing research or teaching. Rather, these should be used for other activities that transform research into actions for and with communities. Since grants are meant to leverage work or programs that already exist, a guiding principle for staff and faculty may be to keep the level of support funding to around 10% (recommendation only).

Every budget will be carefully reviewed to make sure the support being proposed is, in equal measures, necessary and adequate. 

Budget Development

Where a proposal is requesting over $4,000, you should complete the provided Excel worksheet as part of your budget submission. Specific guidelines can be found in the accompanying instructions. It is important to know that you will need to provide annual budgetary and progress reports for projects that run on for several years before the funds for the second and/or third year are made available.

Pre-proposals for mini-grants do not require budget-based spreadsheets i.e. where requests are for $4,000 or a lesser amount, and the information for this level of funding should be presented in the usual two-page format pre-proposal.

Fill Out the Online Form and Submit It with the Cover Sheet You Created for Your Pre-Proposal

This form and the enclosed cover sheet will allow the recipient to build a pre-proposal database with the contact details of applicants. Once the form is completed and submitted electronically, you will have the option to print off a copy. You should print off the cover sheet and submit this with the pre-proposal you created, signed by the dean, director, or chair of your institution.

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Submit the Pre-Proposal with Cover Sheet and Budget Document(s) and Await Approval

You should submit your pre-proposal for approval i.e. to be signed by the faculty chair and dean by a designated date.

Submit a Copy (One) of Your Approved Pre-Proposal Pack

A completed pre-proposal pack generally includes the cover sheet with signatures of approval, the pre-proposal itself, and the budget spreadsheet (the latter is not needed in the case of mini-grants). Make sure you deliver a copy (or make sure this is delivered by your dean’s office) to the Provost’s office by the designated date.

Review of Pre-Proposal

All pre-proposals are reviewed by a committee that recommends to the Provost’s office, which ones should go forward to the stage of the full project proposal.

A committee might award mini-grants straight from a pool of pre-proposals, but it tends to reserve the right to request a full project proposal if members feel they need additional support materials and/or information to help them decide on the activity of the proposed project.

Pre-proposal reviews are highly competitive, and some pre-proposals will not be advanced to the next stage, even when they meet an institution’s basic criteria.