UMW Signs Contract with Grant Writing Firm

By John Morello, Associate Provost for Academic Affairs
Beginning on January 1, 2014, the firm of McAllister & Quinn from Washington, DC will provide comprehensive grant writing services to UMW for a period of two years, with an option to renew for three additional one-year periods. The contract was awarded following a Request for Proposals (RFP) that was issued in June 2013. The RFP announcement specified that the selected firm should be prepared to provide a comprehensive suite of competitive grant services comparable to what might be offered by a successful, mature sponsored research services office.

UMW faculty and staff have submitted an average of 50 external grants, contract, or sub-contract proposals over the past four calendar years. These proposals have gone to a mixture for federal government agencies, state government agencies, professional organizations, corporate entities, and private foundations. An average of $660,000 per year has recently come in to UMW through these efforts, and it was readily apparent that increasing activity and achieving a higher success rate would require additional support beyond that which was currently available.

McAllister & Quinn is a mid-sized government relations consulting firm with a primary focus on federal grant-seeking and related strategic federal funding services. More than 30 of the firm’s over 100 clients are colleges and universities; most of the institutions the firm serves are small, liberal arts colleges and universities with programs and interests similar to UMW. Some of the institutions with which the firm works are Shepherd University, St. Mary’s College of Maryland, Bucknell University, and College of the Holy Cross.

Among the specific performance tasks outlined in the RFP are to (1) assist UMW in the development of an indirect cost structure (and move its adoption with the appropriate federal agency), (2) work with UMW faculty and staff and corresponding funders in order to develop a mutual understanding of competencies and needs prior to the agency’s public announcement of grant opportunities, (3) arrange for personal visits with appropriate funding agencies and to work with faculty and staff to identify opportunities for foundation and government funding, and (4) assist UMW in writing a specified number of grant proposals each year.  The firm has a wide array of subject-matter grant writers and other staff members who are available to assist on a wide variety of subjects and projects.

One of the first steps the firm will undertake in its work with us will be an organizational analysis designed identify areas of strength and to connect those with upcoming potential funding opportunities. This analytical process will assist UMW in developing a comprehensive strategy for the federal government and foundation grants that it might wish to pursue.

While the firm will offer grant writing assistance to only a selected number of UMW proposals, they will as a part of their contract provide a number of additional valuable services. The firm has dedicated staff who constantly monitor potential funding opportunities and make them known to their clients. This will enable UMW to distribute information about potential grants on a more regular basis and to get the word out sooner than would be possible without the firm’s assistance.

McAllister & Quinn also hosts a series of federal agency sponsored workshops at its offices in Washington, DC. These are “clients only sessions” where grant program directors offer information about drafting successful proposals and often work with faculty on a one-to-one basis in order to provide suggestions about how to write a successful grant. Additional details about these agency workshops will be forthcoming.

As part of their RFP response, McAllister & Quinn agreed to hold an on-campus grant-writing workshop for UMW faculty and staff. Details for this session are under development. The workshop will be slated to occur sometime during the week following Commencement (May 12-16). To assist in planning for this event, a small advisory group will likely be convened (made up of persons who have regularly applied for external grants and/or who have suggested in the past that UMW try to hold such a workshop). Potential topics might include suggestions for finding grant opportunities, tips for writing a strong project narrative, advice on how to construct grant budgets, and so forth. Look for additional details about this upcoming workshop!





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