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7 Essential Steps for Crafting a Winning Title III Strengthening Institutions Grant Application

Updated: Apr 14

By Patricia Moore Shaffer

Principal & CEO

The Title III Strengthening Institutions grant program, administered by the U.S. Department of Education, aims to support eligible institutions in improving their academic quality, institutional management, and fiscal stability. This grant provides an opportunity for colleges and universities to enhance their capacity to serve low-income students and students with limited access to higher education. To successfully apply for this grant, institutions should follow a step-by-step process that includes careful planning, thorough research, and effective proposal writing.

Step 1: Understand the Grant Program

Before starting the application process, it is crucial to thoroughly understand the Title III Strengthening Institutions grant program. Review the program's guidelines, objectives, and eligibility criteria. Familiarize yourself with the specific legislation and regulations that govern Title III grants.

Step 2: Develop a Comprehensive Development Plan

A key component of every Title III grant application is the development of a comprehensive development plan. This plan must include an analysis of the strengths, weaknesses, and significant problems of the institution's academic programs, institutional management, and fiscal stability; identification of the institution's goals for its academic programs, institutional management, and fiscal stability; measurable objectives related to reaching each goal and timeframes for achieving the objectives; and methods and resources that will be used to institutionalize practices and improvements developed under the proposed project. Your comprehensive development plan is unique to your institution and intended to develop its capacity to better serve your student population. See, for example, Lincoln University's comprehensive development plans.

Step 3: Develop a Project Plan

Based on the comprehensive development plan, develop a project plan that outlines the strategies and activities you propose to implement if funded. Ensure that your plan aligns with the grant program's objectives and priorities. For instance, if your institution aims to enhance faculty development, your project plan may include workshops, training programs, and mentoring initiatives.

Step 4: Gather Data and Evidence

Collect relevant data and evidence to support your project plan. This may include student enrollment and retention rates, graduation rates, financial data, and any other information that demonstrates the need for the proposed activities. Use this data to build a strong case for your project's effectiveness and impact.

Step 5: Budget Preparation

Prepare a detailed budget that clearly outlines the costs associated with your proposed activities. Ensure that your budget aligns with the grant program's guidelines and restrictions and also mirrors your project plan. Provide a breakdown of expenses, including personnel, equipment, supplies, and any other necessary resources. Justify each expense and demonstrate how it directly contributes to achieving the project's objectives.

Step 6: Proposal Writing

Write a compelling and well-structured proposal that clearly articulates your institution's needs, project plan, and expected outcomes. Address each component of the grant application, including the executive summary, project description, evaluation plan, and sustainability strategy. Consider partnering with a professional program evaluator specializing in higher education to develop a logic model and evaluation plan. Throughout the narrative, use clear and concise language, provide evidence to support your claims, and adhere to the specified word limits. Sample Title III grant application are available online; see, for example, Santa Fe College's Title III application.

Step 7: Review and Revise

Before submitting your application, carefully review and revise your proposal. Ensure that it is free from grammatical errors, typos, and inconsistencies. Seek feedback from colleagues or experts in grant writing to improve the clarity and coherence of your proposal. Make any necessary revisions to strengthen your application.

Writing a successful Title III Strengthening Institutions grant application requires careful planning, thorough research, and effective proposal writing. By following this step-by-step process, institutions can increase their chances of securing funding to address their specific needs and enhance their capacity to serve underrepresented students. Remember to align your proposal with the grant program's objectives, provide compelling evidence, and demonstrate a clear plan for sustainability. With dedication and attention to detail, institutions can create a strong application that stands out among the competition.


Shaffer Evaluation Group welcomes partnerships with higher education institutions applying for Title III grants. We prepare the logic model and evaluation plan at no cost in exchange for an agreement to work on your grant project should your application be awarded. Contact us today for more information.


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