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Urban Sites Network

2007-2008 USN Minigrants

Request for Proposals

Proposal Deadline: January 10, 2007
To submit your proposal, go to:


The Urban Sites Network (USN) offers minigrant funds to NWP sites on an annual basis. Every fall, USN minigrants are offered as part of the special-focus networks minigrant program in conjunction with the NWP Continued Funding Application. Funding criteria and awards are determined through a peer-review process; grants are awarded in the spring of each year. This year, grants of up to $5,000 will be awarded.

The goals of the USN are to bring together teachers from diverse backgrounds and perspectives from across its member sites to

The intent of the USN minigrants is to provide support to writing project sites to initiate or sustain work consistent with the mission and goals of the network. If your site would like to conduct a project that meets the goals of the USN network, we invite you to apply for a minigrant this year.

Funds from this grant may be used only for programs designed to provide development opportunities for professional educators. USN minigrants are not awarded for programs that provide services directly to students, such as youth writing camps, though they may be used to provide professional development to teacher-consultants facilitating community or student-focused programs.

Minigrant Objectives

Special-focus networks offer minigrant opportunities to sites to strengthen and support work in areas identified by the networks as part of their mission. Funds are intended to provide modest support for projects that contribute to strengthening the site, including building leadership capacity, developing or extending new and established inservice and continuity programs, and networking with other sites to support student learning and writing.

Consider applying for a USN minigrant in response to three major areas of challenge currently facing NWP and its sites. These challenges have been identified through a strategic planning process involving local site focus groups and national leadership. The USN is interested in supporting efforts by member sites to extend the capacity of urban writing projects to respond to these local challenges:

Obligations of the Grant


Proposal Guidelines

To apply for a Urban Sites Network minigrant, submit

  1. a proposal narrative of approximately 1,200 words (four standard pages)
  2. a summary of the proposed project (200-400 words)
  3. a budget request of up to $5,000.

Proposal Narrative

The narrative of the proposal will summarize what you hope to accomplish and how you plan to carry it out. Please refer to the rubric at the end of the application when completing your proposal. Your proposal must include the following elements:


Include a chart that shows a proposed timeline of the dates of the related activities and persons responsible for the work you plan to do as you move toward completion of this project. Include NWP reporting dates in your plan. This work may begin as early as March 2007 and should conclude by August 30, 2008.


Compose a one-paragraph, 200- to 400-word description of your project. If your project is funded, the summary may be used in whole or in part on the NWP website.


Minigrant budgets and project reporting must meet federal requirements and schedules as specified in overall site awards. Minigrants are funded with federal funds, which must be used for activities that provide professional development opportunities to professional educators. Any activity expenses incurred by or for students or relating to entertainment must be covered by matching, nonfederal funds.

Explain how you will use the minigrant funds. Requests cannot exceed $5,000; funds are limited. If desired, funds may be budgeted for costs related to minigrant presentations. If any supplementary funding is to be used, explain its source and how it will be spent. Please use the USN Minigrant Budget template to provide budget details, including required match amount.

Making the Match

When you apply for a minigrant—as when you apply for any federal grant from the NWP—you are required to show a minimum of a one-to-one dollar match in your application. Sites have successfully met this requirement in a number of ways. Below, we describe two options that many sites use to meet the match. If you need further assistance or suggestions, contact Mike Mathis, NWP director of grants and contracts, at

Option 1: Matching minigrant funds in the core site budget

If your site's requested budget for core funding shows matching funds at least equal to the sum of your site's core grant plus the minigrant, you have met the match. For example, if you apply for a $5,000 minigrant on top of a $43,000 core grant, and your site shows at least $48,000 in matching funds on the requested budget, the minimum match requirement has been met. What we look for in a minigrant match is an overall match to federal NWP site dollars; these funds do not have to be designated specifically for the minigrant project.

What if the core site budget does not meet the minigrant match needed?

As you might do with your site application, investigate the most likely sources for funding support. These include university funds for teacher release time, supplies and equipment, office support, and conference travel; and state and/or school district support for professional development, research, assessment-related tools, and special projects. If you have tapped these sources and still come up short, contact Mike Mathis at He can help sort through possible avenues within the university and suggest other ideas to help find the match you need.

Option 2: Matching funds specifically for the minigrant project

For minigrant projects that target a particular population or geographic area, or that address a specific area of need (e.g., disadvantaged schools, minority communities, the promotion of literacy, or parental involvement), you may be able to secure matching funds from private foundations and community funds that focus on similar issues. Sometimes you can get matching resources from institutions in the area where you are providing service. Companies and philanthropic organizations often strive to link with worthwhile community projects in their home areas, and some set aside money specifically for educational purposes. Writing Project sites have also found that obtaining local support can help to build bridges within a community and increase local commitment to good educational programs.

If you use or raise match funds specifically for the minigrant project, include the funds in a separate column on your minigrant budget detailing how the match funds will be used.

Remember to include donor letters of commitment if you are raising new funds for your match.

Supporting Information

Urban Sites Network (USN) Minigrant Scoring Rubric


Highly Recommended


Not Recommended

Rationale (10)

Project explicitly addresses identified needs and meets one or more of the challenges specified in the RFP. Case made for the project is persuasive. Issues specific to urban education are clearly delineated.

Project is connected to identified needs and meets one or more of the challenges. Case made for the project is clear. Some issues specific to urban education are addressed.

Need is not clearly identified or project is not directly connected to need. Specific challenges are not named/addressed. Case made for the project is unclear. Issues specific to urban education are not clearly addressed.

Impact of the work (10)

Project idea will clearly have a long-term impact on teachers, schools, and/or the site. Project will demonstrate capacity to build and sustain leadership in and across the site. In addition, the project may represent an interesting innovation for the site or the network.

Potential for project impact is evident. The connection between the activities and potential impact on school, teacher, and/or site is clear.

Project shows no connection between activities and their long-term impact on the site, or such connection is not explicitly stated.

Description (10)

  • Goals
  • Activities
  • Roles and Responsibilities

Goals are realistic and clearly defined. Activities are described in detail and correspond to the stated goals. All roles and responsibilities are clearly defined. It is clear how each person involved will contribute to the project.

Goals are less specifically defined. Activities meet most of the goals. Most roles and responsibilities are clearly defined. Expertise and roles of most of the people involved are described.

Goals are unrealistic or vague. Activities do not match proposed goals. Roles and responsibilities are undefined.

Implementation Plan

  • Timeline (5)
  • Dissemination (5)

Timeline is realistic and can be completed in 18 months. Plans for dissemination to local site and to USN are explicitly stated.

Timeline is mostly in line with the scope of the project and is likely to be completed within 18 months. Plans for dissemination to local site and USN is clear.

Timeline is unrealistic. The project is unlikely to be completed within 18 months. Dissemination plans are unclear.

Budget (5)

All proposed expenditures are related to proposed activities and are reasonable. Budget denotes source(s) of matching funds, if necessary, and how they will be used.

Most expenditures match activities. Budget denotes source(s) of matching funds. Matching funds will contribute to the project.

Expenditures are listed. Relationship between costs, matching funds, and project activities needs to be clarified.

Proposal Mechanics (5)

Proposal is very well organized, contains very few spelling or grammatical errors, shows a high level of planning. All sections are completed and required information is included. It is easy to discern what will occur and how these activities will help build site capacity.

Organization of idea and quality of writing show evidence of planning and allow reviewers to discern what will occur. Required forms are included.

Grammatical and spelling errors, and/or organization of narrative make it difficult to tell what will occur. Some of the required information and/or attachments are included.