By Stacy Hayden, SEG Research Associate
Shaffer Evaluation Group often is asked to support the development or refinement of grant goals, objectives, and activities. Clients are able to articulate the “why” behind a project, which often stems from a need they plan to address. The “why” is the first thing needed to write an appropriate goal statement. When SEG reviews grant goals in a grant application, we commonly observe that the alignment of the language between the goals, objectives, and activities often needs to be tighter and more well-defined. The example below for a Department of Defense Education Activity (DoDEA) project demonstrates the connection between each of these three components.
Although some funders have specific requirements for the format of their goal statement, goals are generally broad, long-term, and achievable such as the example in italicized text.
By the end of the funding period, grades K-5 military-connected students will demonstrate increased science interest and/or achievement using qualitative and/or quantitative measures.
Objectives are directly linked to goals; however, they should be more specific and break down the approach supporting the goal into discrete strategies. For example, the goal presented above could be broken into three objectives.
Objective 1: Design a makerspace and engage students through school day or before/after school activities.
Objective 2: Engage students in STEM enrichment and/or extracurricular activities.
Objective 3: Develop and implement STEM professional learning for all school staff based on needs assessment.
While these objectives are specific, they also provide flexibility to allow for necessary changes. However, all objectives are designed to ensure successful progress towards the goal.
Finally, activities need to be developed. Activities are sometimes confused with objectives, as they are the steps in implementing a project and are necessary processes, actions, or events. Activities are linked directly to objectives. Some examples may include collaborating with partners, developing materials, conducting training, and analyzing data. For example, let’s look at objective 1.
Objective 1: Design a makerspace and engage students weekly either through school day or before/after school activities.
Activity 1.1: By the end of Year 1, establish makerspace planning committee and tour two local makerspaces.
Activity 1.2: By the end of Year 1, develop makerspace at elementary campus.
Activity 1.3: By the end of Year 2, engage students K-5 in weekly makerspace activities through school day or before/after school activities.
Each of the activities represents necessary steps that will be required to ensure the objective can be completed. The activities above represent processes (e.g., identify gaps), actions (e.g., assemble team), and events (e.g., engage students in activities).
When beginning to develop your goals, objectives/strategies, and activities, first start with the “why.” Once you’ve developed your goal statement, begin to think through what the objectives and activities might be as each build on the other.
The new Department of Defense Education Activity grant solicitation was released at the end of January. Shaffer Evaluation Group offers fee-based grant writing services as well as post-award support when selected as the external evaluator. We also offer limited complimentary services to support your grant application—please contact us about writing the evaluation section at no cost in exchange for being named as the evaluator in your grant application.