Grant Procedures

Grant Development Procedure

Section I: Grant Research Process

  1. The grant research process will be used to help support projects within the college that result from activities which are generated by compliance to the college strategic plan. The Grants Manager will research opportunities for funding, critique potential funding sources, review guidelines, review/critique any applicable Request for Proposal (RFP) or Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA), and make recommendations concerning potential funding. Grant research will be an ongoing activity conducted primarily by the Grants Manager, but may include any member of the college staff and faculty.  
  2. When the Grants Manager identifies available funding deemed appropriate for the college and in compliance with the strategic plan, a summary of the funding notice will be circulated campus-wide for review and response. 
  3. When a member of the faculty or staff elects to pursue available funding, a discussion should occur between the person seeking the grant funds and supervisor(s) to discuss the merit of the project concept and to determine the need for grant funds to implement or enhance the project concept.  If the project is viable, the project concept and any applicable deadlines should be submitted to the Grants Manager.  Submit the project using the Project Funding Request Form.

Section II: Determination Process

  1. When the grant and/or partnership is under $10,000, and the person submitting the project request has discussed the grant with the Grants Manager and their supervisor, the individual may proceed with the grant application.  The Grants Manager will still provide a timeline and function as their interim and final phase editor.  Should the grant timeline fall behind to the extent that the quality of the proposal or ability of executive staff to review and sign the proposal is compromised, the Grants Manager will notify the Department Director or Division Dean.
  2. When the grant request and/or partnership is $10,000 or over, and requires financial reporting, the grant notice of funding will be included in a grant review process facilitated by the Grants Manager. When a potential funding source is identified, the Grants Manager will send a notice of funding campus-wide.  A completed Project Funding Request Form (see copy attached) should be submitted to the Grants Manager by the person wanting to pursue the grant.  The Cabinet will review the Project Funding Request Form, the Grant Decision-Making Worksheet and a copy of the grant guidelines to determine the feasibility of the Grant. 
  3. The Cabinet will meet as needed to discuss college priorities and to review an ongoing Grant Planning Schedule which will list grants that the College may apply for in the coming year.  The Grant Planning Schedule will be updated by the Grants Manager each time a new funding opportunity becomes available. New funding opportunities that have been added to the Grant Planning will be reviewed.

    When a grant opportunity has been approved by the Cabinet, the Vice President of the appropriate division under which the grant project would fall will consult with staff and/or faculty to determine a course of action and notify the Grants Manager who will proceed accordingly.
  4. Once the Vice President notifies the Grants Manager, the Grants Manager, working in conjunction with the Vice President, will contact the appropriate staff who will help determine the scope of the grant and the project director.   Approval to pursue the grant will require the signatures of the project director, the project director’s supervisor, the Division VP, the VP of Resource Development, VP of I.E., VP of Finance and the President.
  5. The Project Team will secure partnerships and acquire partnerships as early as possible with approval of their supervisor.
  6. If another organization asks that the college partner with them on a grant, the staff or faculty member who is contacted by the organization should send any documentation or information to the Department Head or Dean and the Grants Manager.  The Department Head/Dean will be responsible for making sure all information pertinent to any partnering on a grant is received by the Grants Manager prior to a partnering agreement.  The Grants Manager will contact the organization for any additional needed information if required, and then circulate the information to the Cabinet members.  When the Cabinet has reviewed the information and the college President approves the partnership, the Grants Manager will inform the Department Head or Dean.  No grant partnership will be pursued without the President’s prior approval. Once the partnership is approved, the grant will come under the same requirements as a grant that is being developed by the college.
  7. All letters of support provided to outside organizations that commit college staff time or resources must be approved by the VP of the division who is making the commitment to offer support and the President, regardless of who authors the letter.  All letters of support that are provided to another organization for purposes of participating in a grant funded project must be copied to the Grants Manager and the Cabinet. 

Section III: Grant Writing Process

  1. The grant writing process should begin as soon as approval is received from the appropriate parties.  Smaller and less complicated grants may be written by a designated Project Director or by the Grants Manager with the assistance of the Project Director. For grants requiring specific goals, outcome measures, budgeting, and other more complicated pieces, a Grant Development Team (GDT) will be formed consisting of the Grants Manager, the Project Director, and other staff or faculty and external partners who will be involved in the execution of the grant and have the required expertise to help ensure a well-developed grant application. For grant projects involving course development and academic programs, faculty will follow the College’s process for course development and academic programs.
  2. The GDT will review the submission plan, designate assignments and review the timeline established by the Grants Manager.  The team will develop a full proposal concept and outline and begin work.  Depending on the time and expertise of the Project Director, the grant proposal will be written by the Project Director with assistance from the Grants Manager; or by the Grants Manager, with the Project Director and other members of the GDT providing content expertise. 
  3. The GDT will consult with  appropriate college departments and divisions who will be affected by the grant project, such as Human Resources for salary and benefit information; Institutional Effectiveness, Research, Planning and Assessment for data, survey instruments, statistics, etc.; IT for software and computer equipment requirements, Plant Operations for physical facility needs, and so on.  All parties affected by the grant proposal will be afforded the opportunity to review the project or program proposal prior to submission of the grant.
  4. The Project Director will provide a listing of all costs to be associated with the grant project or program to the Grants Manager in order to draft a budget as soon as possible for review and recommendations by the Business and Finance representative.  The final grant budget will be filed with the Business and Finance office.
  5. A copy of the completed grant application and forms will be distributed electronically and simultaneously by the Grants Manager for review to the Project Director’s supervisor, Division Vice-President, and Vice President of Business and Finance. When the electronic version has been approved by each party via email, the approving emails will be forwarded to the President and the original completed grant proposal and forms will be submitted by the Grants Manager to each party whose signature is required by the grant guidelines.  The Grants Manager will then submit the original completed application to the President for a final signature. 
  6. If the grant proposal involves a collaborative or consortia project in which VSCC is the lead applicant, the Grants Manager and/or the Project Director will develop a Memorandum of Understanding compliant with the grant guidelines and consult with the Purchasing Director for review.  The Grants Manager and/or Project Director will ensure that the MOU and any letters of commitment/support are signed prior to submission of the grant proposal. 
  7. The Grants Manager will duplicate the required number of copies and package for shipping or will submit electronically. All original files regarding newly submitted grants, continuation, pending, funded and non-funded grants will be maintained by the Grants Manager.

Section IV:  Grant Award Notification Process 

  1. To ensure consistency in the receipt of grant award notification letters, contracts and grant checks, all information should be coordinated by, and all records maintained by, the Grants Manager.  The President’s Office or Project Director will contact the Grants Manager concerning receipt of an incoming grant award notification and will forward the letter/contract to the Grants Manager. 
  2. The grant contract will be reviewed by the Purchasing Department Director prior to signature.  The Grants Manager will notify all parties involved with the funded project, will ensure that the grant award contract is signed by the President or designee, and will copy the signed document and return original contract to the funding agency.
  3. Upon receipt of a fully executed copy of the grant agreement or contract, the Grants Manager will distribute copies as follows:
    1. When Volunteer State is the single applicant, copies will be distributed to:
      1. President
      2. Vice-President over division involved in grant
      3. Vice-President for Business and Finance. 
      4. Dean, Director, and/or AVP over the department involved in grant
      5. Grant Accountant
      6. Project Director
    2. When Volunteer State is the lead applicant, copies will be distributed to:
      1. Same as 1. above
      2. Project Director(s) at partnering entity(s)
      3. Fiscal agent(s) at partnering entity(s)
      4. Grant Manager(s) at partnering entity(s) if applicable
    3. When Volunteer State is a partnering institution, copies will be distributed to:
      1. President
      2. Vice-President over division involved in grant, and Vice-President over  Business and Finance
      3. Dean, Director, and/or AVP over department involved in grant
      4. Grant Accountant
      5. Project Director or Coordinator
      6. Designated contact for Lead Applicant
  4. The Grants Manager will contact the Public Relations Department to generate media distribution of the grant award notice.  Funding entity requirements, if applicable, will be followed regarding signage and verbiage in any media distribution document or notice.   (The Grants Manager will post information regarding any award on the grant webpage when the page becomes available.)

Grant Administration Procedure

This plan describes steps for the administration of awarded grants and management of projects supported by external grant funding. The plan will be updated as necessary to achieve best practices in implementing and managing successful grant projects.

Section I:  Post Award Administration Process

  1. The Grants Manager will schedule a meeting of the Grant Development Team and others responsible for the project to review the grant contract, Scope of Service, Goals, Budget, Reporting Requirements and Project Timeline.  This meeting will also include any representative partners. 
  2. To ensure consistency in the administration and reporting requirements for awarded funds and contracts, the Grants Office will coordinate with the Business Office and the Project Director to ensure that goals are achieved and filing requirements met. The Business Office will establish general ledger accounts and process for receiving and expending funds based on the grant agencies’ methods of disbursement and accounting requirements.  The Project Director will work with the Business Office to reconcile expenditures with accounting records.  

Section II: Maintain One Document Location for Original Copies  

  1. All originals of the grant award letters or contracts, and the required grant progress reports will be, filed with, the Grants Office. The Grants Office will ensure that all appropriate documents are saved in an electronic format.  Project Directors and the Business Office will electronically file all related emails.  The Grants Office will scan all contract documents, official signed documents, the complete grant submission, reports, and financial information and save to the appropriate grant file if not already available electronically. 
  2. The Grants Office will send a copy of all completed contracts and the final approved budget to the appropriate personnel in Finance and Business Office.
  3. The Grants Office will create a calendar of reports and benchmarks and disseminate to the Project Director, the Vice-President of the grant area, the VP of Resource Development and the Business Office.   The master calendar will be maintained in the Grants Office.

Section III: Keep Current with Project Reports

  1. The Grants Manager will monitor the submission of all program reports and will assist, with the completion and submission of Progress and Final Reports.  The Grants Manager will ensure that all grant reporting requirements are prepared and submitted timely.
  2. The Project Director will prepare all required narrative reports and financial reporting.  Financial reporting will be coordinated with the Business Office to ensure accuracy and timeliness of reporting. The Project Director, upon completion of all required reporting, will provide signature approval and submit to the Grants Manager for review and monitoring.
  3. The Project Director will maintain a log of project benchmarks and goals achieved, barriers encountered, and numbers served so that information is available for reporting. The Project Director will adhere to all grant proposal timelines and will maintain regular and documented contact with all partnering agencies or sub-grantees.  If funds are allocated to sub-grantees, the Project Director will monitor the sub-grantees expenditures to ensure they are current with the specified grant timeline.  If sub-grantees are required to submit invoices, they must be submitted with all necessary forms and contact information.  The Project Director will contact sub-grantees two weeks prior to an invoice being due.
  4. The Project Director and Grant Manager will review the guidelines/contract to make sure each goal, objective, and activity specified in the proposal is addressed in all required reporting..  If there are unanticipated changes, or goals are not fully attained, the Project Director will provide justification for the changes or exceptions to the grant plan.
  5. The Business Office has established procedures for creating general ledger funds and the process for receiving and expending funds.  The Grant Accountant will establish a conversion spreadsheet to reconcile the general ledger expenses to the Grant expense categories.  The Project Director and Grant Manager will work with the Business Office to reconcile expenditures with accounting records. All purchases and personal service contracts will comply with institutional policies.
  6. Fiscal reports will require the approval and signature of the Project Director after reconciling with the Grant Accountant. It is essential that the Project Director
  • Review and approve fiscal reports prepared by the Grant Accountant on the funding agency’s reporting forms when provided.
  • Allow extra time when compiling and writing reports. Expenditures should be monitored throughout the grant cycle to facilitate efficient reporting.
  • Reconcile expenditures to the scope of the grant project to ensure that funds are being spent to accomplish what is set forth in the grant narrative and according to the grant timeline, if applicable.
  • Obtain training in the use of Self Service Banner (or the current software package) to be able to constantly monitor online the grant expenditures. Then these expenditures will be input into the billing/financial reports prepared by the Grants Accountant and reconciled with the Project Director to ensure the timely filing of the reports.
  • Final fiscal reports may require completion of an Equipment/Software/Sensitive Item Inventory Form. The Business Office will be contacted at least five days in advance or any reporting due dates   to obtain the Fixed Asset Inventory Report for each grant project . Fixed Assets purchased with federal grant funds must be kept permanently and can only be disposed or sold per the federal guidelines.

Section IV: Conduct Interim Grant Management Conferences

A Grant Management Conference will be held quarterly to discuss and review grant progress,  upcoming reports, and closeout procedures. The Grant Manager will call the meeting and will determine the appropriate personnel to attend but at a minimum the Project Director and Grants Manager will meet. The Grant Accountant will be included if financial plans are being discussed. 

By mid-grant term, determine next-steps for institutionalizing effective project elements or for continuing the project. This may be too late in the game if the grant requires institutionalization – this should have already occurred.

Section V: Close out the project and prepare for an Audit

  1. For all awards, unless otherwise specified by the funding agency, expenditures must be completed within the time frame of the grant project.  Example: The Education Department General Administration Regulations (EDGAR) Section 80.23 (b) stipulates that all funds must be obligated (encumbered and delivered) by June 30, 20xx and liquidated (paid) by September 30, 20xx, for a grant project that operates between July 1 and June 30.  For other requirements, consult your grant project contract.
  2. Closing out the project involves making sure that all grant requirements described in the contract have been met.  Three months prior to the project grant end date, the Project Director and Grants Manager will review progress on the project to ensure that all contracted activities are being conducted, and that project goals and objectives have been addressed By the conclusion of the grant, the Project Director will ensure that
    1. All supply, material, and equipment purchases are completed (received, installed, and paid for);
    2. All project staff effort is documented and all staff are paid;
    3. Any consultant hired by the grant has submitted invoicing and has been paid;
    4. Formal project evaluation is completed;
    5. Institutional match and in-kind contributions are completed and documented;
    6. Final Fiscal report is completed.
    7. Fixed Asset and Sensitive Items Inventory is completed and verified by the Project Director;
    8. Plans for any equipment disposal (sale, donation, return, etc.) have been finalized and executed.
    9. All program reports are completed and reviewed/approved at appropriate levels.
    10. The project log is up to date.

Section VI: Conduct a Close-out Conference

A close-out conference will be scheduled by the Grants Manager to review project accomplishments, identify ways to strengthen the grants management process, and initiate next-steps for project continuation. Specifically, the conference attendees will:

  1. Review accomplishments and benefits of the project
  2. Assess the value of Grants Office services
  3. Identify policies, procedures, or services that facilitate or impede effective grant project operations
  4. Review and finalize any remaining outstanding issues
  5. Ensure availability of materials and resources for an audit
  6. Finalize plans to reapply – if this hasn’t already occurred and is applicable.

Section VII: Information Dissemination

All guidelines provided by the funder for information dissemination will be followed by the Project Director and Grants Manager. 

Section VIII: Document Retention 

  1. Unless otherwise specified by the funding agency, the Grants Office will maintain both an original hard copy and an electronic copy during the cycle of the grant.  At the close of the grant, the Grants Office will move all hard copies of the grant to a closed file folder which will be maintained in compliance with the grantor’s requirements and the institution’s records and retention policy in a designated storage area. Hardcopy and electronic files for awarded grants will be maintained for seven years after the grant’s closing date. At the end of the retention period, the grant documents will be appropriately destroyed.  
  2. The Grants Office will maintain electronic copies of non-awarded or unrequited grant submissions for two years in order to reference material or to be revised and resubmitted at a later time or for another funding opportunity. 

Section IX: Reapplication

  1. If the grant is a multi-year grant which requires reapplication, or the program is eligible for reapplication with the funder, the Grants Manager will inform the Project Director when it is time to begin the re-application process.
  2. For multi-year grants that require annual reapplication, the Grants Manager will assist the Project Director in following the guidelines for application provided by the funder.
  3. For grants that are eligible for an additional round of funding but require the college to apply with a new application, the institution’s grant development procedures will be followed.