Portland Community College | Portland, Oregon

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What is the Grants Office?

The Grants Office serves as the clearinghouse for all College grant opportunities and grant seekers to advance the mission of the College, prevent duplication of efforts and maximize grant revenue for the College. The Grants Office is a district-wide college department under Academic and Student Affairs. A full description of our services can be found at Grants Office Services.

Why do I have to work with the Grants Office? Why can’t I just submit my own grants?

With multiple campuses and centers spread out across the district, it isn’t unusual to have more than one PCC department interested in pursuing the same grant. One of the primary roles of the Grants Office staff is to prevent this type of duplication, which can disqualify an applicant from a grant competition or put PCC programs in competition with each other. The Executive Staff has charged the Grants Office with being the point of contact for all College grant-seeking efforts, to evaluate grant ideas and funding opportunities, to assess the likelihood of success, to coordinate proposal development, and to ensure Executive Staff approval for grants is obtained. In addition, the Grants Office staff has specific expertise that will increase the competitiveness of grant proposals. In 2010-11, PCC received $28.8 million in grants from federal, state, local and private sources. Many college staff have remarked how working with the Grants Office made the process easier and resulted in a better grant.

I have an idea for a grant, what do I do now?

Start by reviewing the grants approval process flowchart, the Grants Office profile of services, and PCC’s grant-seeking priorities. This will give you a good idea of PCC’s process for developing and approving grants, the services the Grants Office offers PCC grant seekers, and the types of grants in which the College is most interested. If your idea is in response to a specific grant announcement or request for proposals (RFP) contact Vaness Wood, Interim Grants Development Director, to discuss the grant program and your project idea. If your idea is not in response to a specific grant announcement, complete the short Grant Needs Summary. Someone from the Grants Office or the PCC Foundation will follow up to talk with you about your grant needs.

What if my grant idea does not fit within the College’s grant-seeking priorities?

The grant-seeking priorities were developed by the College’s Executive Staff to focus the grant-seeking efforts of the College and the Grants Office. If your idea does not fit within the priorities, it doesn’t mean that you can’t pursue a grant. However, it does mean that the Grants Office won’t be able to spend as much time on your grant as one that does fit within the priorities. If you don’t think your idea fits within the priorities, you must still contact the Grants Office to discuss the grant. Grants that do not fit within the priorities still go through the grants approval process managed by the Grants Office, including development and approval of the Grant Needs Summary and Grants Review Summary. In addition, the Grants Office will review and edit your grant proposal and obtain the President’s signature on grant application documents. 

The grants approval process seems very long and involved. Do I really have to do all those things?

Yes, but the Grants Office will help! The grants approval process was designed by the College’s Executive Staff to ensure they are aware of and approve all grants to be developed and submitted by the College. A number of issues are considered during the approval process, including the likelihood of funding, ability to charge indirect costs, alignment with the College’s master plan, availability of matching funds, and requirements to continue the project after the funding ends. The Grant Needs Summary must be approved by the Grants Office, your Dean, your Campus President, the District Vice President for Financial Affairs, and the College President. A near final draft of the grant and the Grants Review Summary must be approved by the Grants Office, your Dean, and your Campus President. The Grants Office will help shepherd your grant through the approval process. Following this process helps to ensure that you don’t spend a lot of time developing a grant proposal that is not approved or submitted. At the recommendation of the College’s Grants Development Director, the grants process can occasionally be expedited. However, this is the exception rather than the rule. 

I just found out about a grant that is due in a few weeks. Can we submit something?

If you have just learned of a grant opportunity with a quick deadline, call the Grants Office immediately to discuss the grant. If the grant application is short and simple, it may still be possible to submit a grant. However, a large federal grant usually requires at least three months of planning and development in order to produce a competitive proposal. Part of deciding whether the College will pursue a grant includes assessing whether we can develop a proposal that is likely to be funded within the time allotted.

My department has been asked to partner on a grant submitted by another agency and/or to provide a letter of support for another agency’s grant. Do I need to contact the Grants Office?

Yes. Depending on the level of PCC’s expected involvement in the grant project, you may or may not need to go through the full PCC grants approval process. Generally, the greater the involvement of the College, the more likely it is that you will need to follow the process. It may also be the case that another PCC department has been asked to partner with a different agency on the same grant. Alternatively, PCC could be submitting its own grant proposal to the same competition. Some grant competitions allow this and others don’t. If you’ve been asked to partner on a grant or provide a letter of support, contact the Grants Office so we can advise you on how to proceed. Please also see the PCC Grant Development Process for Noncompetitive Renewal, Competitive Renewal and Partnership Grants.

Who can sign grants and award documents? 

As per PCC Board Policy, only the College President can sign these documents for the College. If the District President is unavailable, the District Vice President can sign on his behalf. As per the grants approval process designed by the Executive Staff, the Grants Manager is responsible for obtaining signatures from the District President or District Vice President for all grant application and award documents. If you have a grant document that needs to be signed, contact the Grants Office.

What is indirect and why do I have to budget for it?

Indirect costs are the costs to run a grant that are not directly attributable to project activities. Examples of indirect costs include those incurred by Facilities Management Services (to provide space and utilities), human resources (to hire staff and address employee-relations issues), financial services (to pay invoices and ensure fiscal accountability), institutional research (to collect data), and the Grants Office itself. The College’s federally approved indirect rate is 32.3%. This means that it takes 32.3% of the direct costs of a grant to provide the services described above. Few grants allow the College to budget its full, approved indirect rate; for example, most U.S. Department of Education grants allow only 8% indirect. In general, it is College policy to budget for the maximum indirect allowed by a grant (up to our negotiated rate). Without indirect, the College could not afford to offer the services provided by grant programs.

Can I write my own grant?

When you meet with the Grants Office staff to discuss your grant proposal, we’ll talk about the roles each of us will play in the grant development process. For large federal grants that meet the College’s grant-seeking priorities, the Grants Office is responsible for proposal coordination and writing, although other College staff may contribute drafts of program sections that will be edited by Grants Office staff. For smaller grants, particularly those that do not address one of the College’s grant priorities, program staff/faculty usually take the lead in writing the proposal.

Can I pitch an idea to a program officer?

The Grants Office usually takes the lead in all pre-award conversations with program officers from government agencies, particularly for the large federal grants in which the Grants Office specializes, and the PCC Foundation usually takes the lead in pre-award conversations with private and corporate foundation program officers. Having one point of contact between PCC and the agency limits confusion and decreases the likelihood of conflicting information during the proposal development process. Once a grant is awarded, the project director is responsible for communication with the program officer assigned to their project.

Can you help us get scholarship money for our students?

Generally, the Grants Office focuses on obtaining large federal grants that produce indirect revenue for the College. There are a few federal grants that do provide scholarship funds for specific student groups; for example, the Grants Office has secured federal scholarship funding for engineering students, migrant workers, and bilingual instructional assistants. The PCC Foundation also writes grants to local foundations to support the scholarships it offers. If you are interested in approaching a private or corporate foundation for scholarships, contact the PCC Foundation at 971-722-4382. If you want to apply for a government grant that funds student scholarships, contact the Grants Office. If you are unsure, please complete the Grant Needs Summary form.

I’m confused about whether I should work with the Grants Office or the PCC Foundation. Who can help me?

Generally, the Grants Office focuses on obtaining large government grants that produce indirect revenue for the College, and the PCC Foundation focuses on requests to private and corporate foundations, businesses, and individual donors. The Grants Office has worked on proposals to foundations when several of the following conditions are true: the grant request is large (over $30,000), there is an established relationship between PCC and the funder, the grant is to a national foundation, indirect costs are permitted, and the grant meets the college’s grantseeking priorities. The Grants Office and the PCC Foundation work collaboratively to determine which office can best respond to a program’s request for help in obtaining funding. If you are interested in raising funds for your program and your idea is not in response to a specific government grant announcement, complete the short Grant Needs Summary. We will discuss your request and someone from the Grants Office or the PCC Foundation will follow up with you.

Is there support available to faculty who spend time working on grants?

Yes, in some cases, support may be available to faculty who work on grants. Support is available in the form of release time or as non-instructional pay and is usually designated for the lead faculty member working on the grant, who in most cases will serve as the principal investigator or project director if the grant is funded. Priority for support goes to faculty working closely with Grants Office staff on major grant proposals that support the College’s grant-seeking priorities.

Does the Grants Office help with renewals?

Yes, support is available to project directors to prepare competitive and noncompetitive grant renewals. Please see the PCC Grant Development Process for Noncompetitive Renewal, Competitive Renewal and Partnership Grants.

Still have questions? Contact the Grants Office.