WRD 526: Grant and Proposal Writing (Spring 2018)

Course Description

The ability to write winning proposals—be it for money or other opportunities—is not only a marketable skill, it’s also a highly satisfying way to use your writing and persuasive talents. WRD 526 is designed to help you hone those talents by teaching you about the proposal-writing process and demystifying the rhetorical situations typical of grant funding and other proposal opportunities. To learn the writing, research, and social strategies used by successful proposal writers, we will read both scholarly and practitioner texts about proposal writing and analyze a diverse range of proposal types (e.g., grant, conference, business). The course also foregrounds practice with key proposal-writing tasks; this practice will culminate in a major, real-world project to complete a grant proposal or other grant-writing materials for a nonprofit organization.

By the end of this course, you should be able to:

  • Identify and evaluate funding sources and other proposal-worthy opportunities and align individual and organizational projects to proposal solicitors’ goals
  • Write the genres and component elements typical of proposals—including LOIs, project narratives, budgets, timelines, and qualification summaries—in ways that demonstrate knowledge of conventions and best practice
  • Analyze rhetorical elements of a particular proposal-writing situation—including the proposal’s audiences, purposes, and context—and apply findings from this analysis to your strategies for completing the proposal
  • Find and integrate persuasive research into specific grant proposals


Anderson, P.V. (2018). Managing client and service-learning projects. In Technical communication: A reader-centered approach, 9th ed. (ch. 19, pp. 337–349). Boston, MA: Engage.

Beaufort, A. (1999). The institutional site of composing: Converging and overlapping discourse communities. In Writing in the real world: Making the transition from school to work (pp. 30–61). New York: Teachers College Press.

Halleck, G. B., & Connor, U. M. (2006). Rhetorical moves in TESOL conference proposals. Journal of English for academic purposes, 5(1), 70-86.

Johnson-Sheehan, R. (2008). Writing proposals, 2nd ed. Boston: Pearson.

Mehlenbacher, A. R. (2017). Crowdfunding science: Exigencies and strategies in an emerging genre of science communication. Technical Communication Quarterly, 26(2), 127-144.

Miner, J.T. & K.C. Ball-Stahl (2016). Models of proposal planning & writing, 2nd ed. Santa Barbara, CA: Greenwood.

Stern, P., & Hall, P. V. (2010). The proposal economy. Critique of Anthropology, 30(3), 243-264.


  1. Proposal Fundamentals: The course begins with an initial dive into proposal writing by way of writing a conference proposal. The project has multiple elements, including a proposal in response to a specific conference’s CFP, an analysis of your own proposal’s moves and rhetorical tactics, and a spreadsheet designed to help you track future opportunities.
  2. Practice Tasks, Reflections, and Participation: Throughout the quarter, you will complete proposal-writing and research tasks as homework or in class, as well as respond to reflective prompts to assess your experiences and learning in the course. You will be graded on your effort to engage with and complete these tasks. Also factored into this grade are your participation in class discussion and compliance with draft deadlines and expectations.
  3. ‘Live’ Grant Proposal or Portfolio of Grant-Writing Assets: The major project of the course is a “live” grant proposal or proposal of grant-writing assets (e.g., funder research, LOIs, proposal template) for a nonprofit organization. There are two approaches you may take to this project: 1) identify a nonprofit organization that you know through personal, work, or social connections, and approach this organization about developing a grant proposal or grant-writing materials on their behalf, or 2) work with a nonprofit that has agreed to partner with students from WRD 526 and develop materials for this organization, as part of a 2- or 3-person team.