YOU CAN'T WIN IF YOU DON'T PLAY: PLAYING THE FUNDING GAME AT NSF
Education initiatives at NSF are developed to target specific and well identified educational needs. The program announcements contain extremely valuable information on both the philosophical and educational basis of the program. They also include a plethora of ideas and suggestions on how to write a successful proposal. A careful reading of the program announcement will reveal a clear list of the essential elements of a good proposal. The more of these elements that are meaningfully incorporated into the project, the higher your chances are of obtaining funding. If you are not successful the first time around, study the reviewer comments carefully and try to implement the suggested changes.
If reading and following the program announcement guidelines does not work, the next insider tip is to volunteer to serve on a review panel. These panels are hard work, lots of fun, extremely educational, and critical to the success of the programs. Service on panels requires reading anywhere from 18-100 proposals depending on the program. It doesn't take long to figure out through empirical evidence what makes a good proposal. I have been fortunate to serve on panels for several programs. Each time I gained incredible insight into what makes a good proposal and where the community is headed in educational reform. It is the best education I have ever had.