How to Write a Proposal for an Education Project

by Heather Skyler ; Updated December 10, 2018
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The purpose of an education proposal is usually to secure grant money and get approval for a specific education project. Often, an entire team is involved and will collaborate to put the proposal together. Whether it's the idea of one person or of many, a proposal for an education project generally follows a basic format.

Start With an Abstract

The abstract is a concise paragraph or a single page that explains the entire purpose and scope of the proposal. Similar to a blurb on the back of a book, the abstract gives you a short version of the whole. Abstracts help to focus readers and guide them through the proposal. While the proposal starts with an abstract, some people find it easier to write this section last so it essentially acts as a summary of the entire report.

Write the Needs Assessment or Statement of the Problem

There is a reason you are proposing this plan or idea – to fulfill a specific need or solve a problem – so the first section should clearly explain what the need is or describe the problem that will be solved. This section is very important, and the content should be clear and concise. For example, you are proposing a program to improve the math scores of eighth-grade students. Describe the current state of their grades and show why these students would benefit from your program.

The needs assessment section should also explain how you've analyzed the needs of this particular group and why the implementation of the project will be helpful. How did you identify the eighth-grade project participants? How did you determine that your project could be successful with this group? Don't describe the entire project or plan in detail here. That comes next.

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Include the Program Description

Now you've come to the meat of the proposal. What exactly is your proposed idea? Describe the nature of the project and show how it will lead to improving student performance. It's a good idea to keep the focus of the project limited so it can be implemented effectively within the time and budget constraints of the project. In this section, also include the project's goals and objectives. Explain what you plan to achieve and lay out the timeline.

Let's say your idea to improve eighth-grade math involves building a specialized computer game that can match the pace of a single student's progress. You'll outline how long it will take to develop and test the game, then lay out how many students will test your project and what variables you'll use to measure success.

Describe How the Project Will Be Implemented

The implementation section provides a more detailed explanation of how exactly you will operate the project. You gave a brief outline of this in an earlier section, but here is your chance to further explain the objectives, activities, instructional methods, materials and assessments that will be essential for the implementation and evaluation of the project.

List the Key Personnel

Identify each member of the project team and describe their duties and responsibilities. Indicate the amount of time this team will devote to the project. Provide a short bio for each team member, highlighting their backgrounds and achievements and revealing why they are a good fit for this project.

Budget and Justification

In this section, create a detailed budget. State the total amount you are requesting, then break down the spending for each part of the project. For our eighth-grade math example, this could include staff salaries, computers and other related costs.

Methods and Measurement Tools

Describe exactly the methods you will use to measure the success or failure of the project. It is important to connect the ideas in this section to the rest of the plan. This section should illustrate the strategies you plan to use to determine the extent to which you are attaining the project's objectives. List the data you plan to collect and the assessment measurements you will use. Provide a timeline for collecting the data and explain your strategies for compiling and reporting evaluation results.

Education proposals are typically long and very detailed. They also involve lots of initial research and revision. This is a nutshell version of how you can put one together, but any successful proposal for a major project should be thorough and well-written.

About the Author

Heather Skyler is a business journalist and editor who has written for wide variety of publications, including Newsweek.com, The New York Times and Delta's SKY magazine. She has a bachelor's degree in English from Miami University and a master's degree in writing from the University of Washington in Seattle. Before writing for a variety of publications, she taught business writing in Seattle.

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