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Elements of a Winning Idea

Before searching for and applying for grant funding, you need to generate an idea. Your idea will motivate you and nurture both your professional and personal aspirations to make the world a better place.

The first question to answer when cultivating your idea is what type of project are you seeking funding for:

Is it a Research, Education, Training, or a Community Service project? 

The type of project for which you are seeking funds will drive how you generate and shape your ideas.



Funder: Your idea helps the funding organization meet its goals and strategic plans.


Community: Your idea seeks to improve the quality of life of people from all communities.



Your Interests: Your idea will help you attain your professional and personal aspirations.

Gulick Triangle

Mission: Your idea is aligned with Springfield College's mission to educate the whole person in spirit, mind, and body for leadership in service to others. 



Faculty are expected to be teacher-scholars that are outstanding instructors while actively engaged in research or creative activities in their disciplines. Finding a successful balance of those activities can be a challenge at a teaching-focused campus. Developing, revisiting, or enhancing your personal research agenda is an important step. The following questions may help guide you as you generate research ideas and develop your research agenda.

What are your research interests? Is your research agenda in an area that you are passionate about and would enthusiastically spend the next few years working on?

So you consider your research interests as applied or theoretical? Are your research interests innovative and have impact?

What journals would you target for your work? Do you have a strong publication record that will support your chosen research area or a closely related area, or do you have a plan to establish a strong record? If the area is very new, will your record of  publications demonstrate your qualifications to pursue this research area?

In your research, do you prefer to collaborate or work alone? Why? What is the community of focus for your research? How do your personal and professional interests and research agenda contribute to your teaching to help build equity?

Are your research interests in an area currently funded or likely to be funded by agencies or foundations? Have you reviewed the strategic plans, research roadmaps, conference reports and abstracts, and workshop results of the agencies you are targeting for funding? 

NIH Strategic Plans and Visions

NSF Strategic Plan


Education grants tend to focus on improving the practice of teaching and policy development. In developing ideas for education grants, it is essential to understand the priorities and strategic thinking of the funding agency or organization. 

Below are links to the strategic plans and websites of some of the largest education grant makers:


Training grants seek to better align education and training with workforce and labor market demands. Important to developing ideas for training grants is understanding how equity impacts job and skill development.

The following links provide information and resources on workforce research  and training grant opportunities: 

Community Service

Community service grants are aligned with Springfield College's mission and can create positive social change by engaging faculty, staff and students in service activities and in service-learning initiatives on campus and in the local community. It is essential in developing ideas for community services grants to understand how equity impacts the communities we serve.

Below are links that provide information and resources on developing campus-community partnerships and grant opportunities: