Proposals for Head Start/Early Head Start funding as part of Designation Renewal System (DRS) Round 6 are due on Monday, April 9, 2018, just four weeks from today. DRS Round 6 Funding Opportunity Announcements (FOAs) were released on February 8, so we’re about halfway through the application process.

Check out these tips to help maximize the time until proposals are due and ensure a smooth (and not too stressful!) submission.

Check in on your timeline. Halfway through the application development process you are likely well on your way with drafting the proposal. Revisit where you are now and what still needs to be accomplished. What sections remain to be drafted? What decisions still need to be made? Who will review the proposal and when? When will you obtain approvals? Gather your planning team and ensure everyone is on the same page about what needs to happen between now and April 9.

Be mindful of the page limit. The page limit for file 1 (narrative) and file 2 (appendices) is 150 pages. We recommend creating a page tracker in which you monitor how many pages are in each section of your proposal. List all appendices and the number of pages. Excel files are great for this purpose. Make your list, update it as you go, and determine where you can trim text if you’re over the page limit.

Track your appendices. In addition to tracking appendices within your page limit ensure someone on your team is monitoring the status of appendix items. If there are appendix items you don’t have in hand yet then determine who will keep track of those items and follow up. For example, are you expecting letters of support? Do you have all resumes, MOUs, and other items to support your proposal? Give yourself plenty of time to compile your appendices into a single file well in advance of the submission date.

Conduct a strong quality assurance review of your full proposal. We strongly recommend identifying someone who can perform a strong quality assurance review of your proposal. This will help to ensure you’ve met all of the criteria of the FOA and your proposal is clear and formatted properly. The person reviewing your proposal can use the evaluation criteria in the FOA to identify areas you may need to improve in advance of submission. This step could help to enhance the competitiveness of your proposal.

Determine submission responsibilities. Now is the perfect time to determine who will be responsible for formatting all proposal documents, entering data, and submitting the proposal. Identify your best-case scenario date for submission. We recommend choosing a date at least a few days in advance of the deadline. If you hit any bumps in your submission process this cushion will give you a couple of days to troubleshoot and still submit on time.

Start submission data entry early. To the extent possible, begin entering application data sooner rather than later. Complete as much as you can in advance so that when it comes down to the days leading up to submission you can focus on tying up loose ends.

The final weeks and days of compiling a competitive Head Start/Early Head Start grant proposal can be hectic! Keep to your timeline and ensure clear roles and responsibilities leading up to submission.

We hope proposal development is going smoothly for those of you applying for a grant as part of DRS Round 6. If you need assistance ensuring a strong proposal please feel free to be in touch and we would be glad to help. Foundations for Families has an exceptional success rate drafting winning proposals in all rounds of DRS, and we offer quality assurance reviews to help applicants submit the most competitive proposal.

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