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Finding Grants & Fellowships: Looking for external funding (from within)

Dr. Joseph Barber Associate Director, Career Services Graduate Students/Postdoctoral Fellows

Agenda • Identifying funding sources – Examples of external resources

• Beyond “funding databases” – Networking – Looking from within

• Some quick tips for application success: – Understanding types of funding organizations – Writing your proposals

Identify sources of funding • Start early – It will take some time to research and identify which opportunities are the best ones for you – Most application deadlines for dissertation or postdoctoral support are in the fall for funding for the following academic year

• Challenge #1: There is no centralized place to learn about all funding sources (there is no app for that) – Plan to research multiple sources (online and in-person approaches) – Make use of academic network at Penn, conferences, and beyond – Use broad search terms to cast a wide net

Assistance and funding at Penn • Be aware of the resources on campus that can assist you in finding external funding – Career Services website and email distribution lists – CURF (Center for Undergrad Research & Fellowships) – Graduate Student Center

• Be aware of funding opportunities at Penn – 1) departmental, 2) school, or 3) university-wide. Sometimes you must inquire at all three levels

• Ask your professors, administrators, fellow students – Find out which grants former students/postdocs in your department have received

GAS POLICY ON EXTERNAL FELLOWSHIPS (for doctoral students) Grad Student Handbook Applicants and students with outstanding academic records are strongly urged to apply for external fellowships in their fields of interest. There are numerous prestigious fellowships, many of which are more lucrative than institutional awards. … Students receiving an award from a source external to the University are expected to accept the award and notify their graduate group chair. The University does not permit fellowship packages simply to be added together. When a student has received offers of both an external and a University fellowship, the University award is adjusted to assure that the student’s efforts are rewarded.


Look for the “Funding Resources”

Some basic funding resources*

These resources provide an introduction to fellowships/grants (

Career Services funding database

You must double-check information found in any database with information on organization websites Some funding opportunities appear and disappear as organizations manage their budget and oversight

Some sources of funding suddenly become “shutdown�

Career Services Library materials • This is a sample of some of the books that can be found in the Career Services reference library: – – – – – – – –

Annual Register of Grant Support Directory of Financial Aids for Women Fellowships, Scholarships, Grants Financial Aid for Research & Creative Activities Abroad Foundation Grants to Individuals Graduate School Funding Handbook Grants for Graduate and Postdoctoral Study Money for Graduate Students in the Arts & Humanities

• Van Pelt library has a financial aid area in the reference section

Search the CURF database

Use the same skills you have used for many years performing research-specific literature reviews to find the right search terms to use when seeking grants and fellowships

External funding resources • Look at the Career Services online subscription page

Grant Advisor deadline tracker Example for Humanities

These are the due dates‌, quick, there is still time!

Use resources from other institutions • Some funding resources are freely available • Thanks Cornell University Graduate School (

The Foundation Center • The most authoritative source of information on private philanthropy in the United States • For the individual grantseeker: – “…most foundation funding is awarded to nonprofit organizations, the individual grantseeker should expect to encounter stiff competition for grant dollars. – Most grantmakers place very specific limitations on their giving to individuals…grantmakers usually cannot make exceptions to their program guidelines, even if you present a compelling case for them to do so”

• Find resources for Individual Grantseekers here:

The Foundation Center

There is a cost for some services. We have some print directories in CS library

Regional Foundation Center • Join the Free Library of Philadelphia to access additional resources • Attend an orientation to learn how to use their funding resources and resources for grant writers

• Access more information here:

Regional Foundation Center • A very short sample of some of the databases provided by the Free Library of Philadelphia:

• Search these resources here:

Search broadly for information… • Attend Career Services programs that feature alumni and other academics – Spring semester: Faculty Conversations – Fall semester: Academic Career Conference – Speak to the panelists and see if they can offer any perspectives on funding opportunities – Take a look at our calendar: – Or join our listservs:

• Join and then search Penn Alumni LinkedIn Group using grant or fellowship keywords for contacts –

Once you have done your research • Writing applications takes good organizational skills – Keep a spreadsheet of organizations, deadlines, materials you submit, and progress/status of application Fellowship/ Funding Deadline grant Organization

Materials required

Update/ notification

• Add to this database contacts you make: – e.g., grant managers, former grant recipients – They may provide perspectives that help your application

Writing a good application takes time • Work backwards from deadlines, prioritizing based on the value of the funds to your research & when materials must be submitted • Your goal is to provide clear, persuasive materials that present you at your best – Know the mission of the organization – Career Services can help with developing your CV – Work with your advisor/department on your proposal as some depts. keep copies of applications as examples

• Practice talking and writing about your research to different audiences – Why is it important & relevant; what makes it fundable?

Types of Funders: Foundations

Types of Funders: Professional Associations

Types of Funders: Advocacy Organizations Organizations have listings of previous award recipients that can be helpful for your networking. Try to connect with former recipients to find out how they wrote about their research in their successful applications

Writing a grant proposal • Your proposal should fit the funding agency’s criteria • If you don’t understand something; contact the funding organization • Demonstrate why your project merits funding – It’s important to you, but why will it be important to them

• Make sure everything is readable: work with a faculty mentor or other advisor – get feedback • Submit by the deadline(!) – They can sneak up on you very quickly

• Learn about notification dates; follow up

Online Tips on Writing • The Chronicle of Higher Education – Grant-Writing Tips for Graduate Students ( – Perfecting Your Pitch ( – How to Win a Graduate Fellowship (

If at first you don’t succeed… • If rejected the first time, you can re-apply for most fellowships. – Seek feedback, as some organizations will provide this, and it will make your next application better

• Update written materials that will go with a reapplication – Any CV or cover letter should also be tailored for each application – don’t send stock materials

Help from Career Services • Set up an appointment with an advisor for a critique of cover letters, CVs, research statements – We are not topic specialists, but can review research statements to see if they are cohesive and convincing – See research statement guide: – Call 215 898 7530

• Make use of all of the online resources

• If you have questions about academic and nonacademic careers, come and chat with an advisor – For some types of careers, awards such as grants and fellowships are less meaningful than skills or experience

Suite 20, McNeil Building, Ground Level, 3718 Locust Walk

Funding presentation career services (oct 2013 jceb)  

Navigating the Grant Conference: External Funding