Requirements of a Capacity Grant Proposal

This document indicates the specific items that need addressed in the proposal as well as the order in which they should be included. Pages should be single-spaced text and double spaces between paragraphs and headings. Please include page numbers.


Should be brief, clear, and specific with a maximum of 150 characters (including space). Avoid using obvious phrases as “a study of,” “research on,” or “the investigation of.” The title, by itself, should give a good indication of the proposal topic. Please do not use all caps.

Probable Duration:

An estimate, in months, of the time that will be required to complete the objectives. All proposals are limited to a maximum of 60 months (five years). Proposals can start on the first day of any month, but must end on March 31, June 30, September 30, or December 31



Collaborative multi-investigator, multi-disciplinary, and/or multi-departmental proposals are highly encouraged. List the investigator(s) (academic staff only; do not list graduate students or technical service personnel) and their respective department. This section should include only faculty that will be participating for the full duration of the proposal. These individuals should be included on the respective REEport screens.


The first-named investigator should be at least a tenure-track assistant professor or equivalent. This person will be considered the leader and will be responsible for subsequent reporting requirements.

PSU Collaborators:

Cooperation with other departments and colleges is encouraged. List only those individuals (and their respective unit) that will make a significant contribution to a portion of the proposal (not for the full duration). These individuals should not be included on the REEport forms. If cooperators are College of Agricultural Sciences’ employees; it will be the department’s responsibility to provide the appropriate documentation to assure that the individual has time assigned to the proposal when needed (see policy at Where a proposal is cooperative between two or more departments/colleges, care should be exercised to assure that the other units are advised of any changes in the proposed plans. The division of effort, coordination, and responsibilities of each department/college should be clearly understood and indicated. If there are none, please enter “None” in this area.

External Collaborators:

List external faculty, staff, or extension educators; growers; private, state, or federal agencies; and others who are collaborating formally or informally on this proposal. Please indicate (briefly) the nature of that collaboration (e.g., advisor, in-kind service, etc.). If there are none, please enter “None” in this area.

Statement of the Issues and Justification:

Describe the importance of the work to be done to address problems to agriculture (including forestry) and rural life on a state, regional, and/or national scale. Indicate the consequences if the work/research is not done. Identify the needs of stakeholders and how the proposed research addresses state, regional, and/or national priorities and the timeliness of the proposal in the contexts of those needs and/or issues. Explain the technical feasibility of the research. Highlight the impacts from successfully completing the work. Describe ways in which public welfare or scientific knowledge will be advanced.

Non-Technical Summary:

Briefly summarize the importance of this work in terms that general citizens can understand (i.e. citizens without scientific backgrounds). A good non-technical summary is composed of 1-2 succinct paragraphs that cover three main points:

  1. What is the current issue or problem that the research addresses and why does it need to be researched?
  2. What basic methods and approaches will be used to collect and produce data/results and subsequently inform target audiences?
  3. Through the methods mentioned above, what ultimate goals does the project hope to achieve?

In answering the above questions, make sure to provide enough detail so that you are touching upon the main purpose of the project, the expected accomplishments, and anticipated benefits of the research.


This non-technical summary is designed to enhance the usefulness of the information in REEport and especially to legislative and other public audiences.

Previous Work and Present Outlook:

Define the problem under study and explain how your proposed work will supplement and extend previous work. If the proposal is for continuation of a project, the accomplishments achieved under the previous project should be reviewed with identification of those areas requiring further investigation. List essential, cited references in the References Cited section at the end of the proposal. A classical in-depth literature review should not be included within your proposal.


A concise, complete, clear, logically arranged, and numbered series of statements defining the specific goals/objectives of the proposal. For multi-investigator proposals, identify which faculty members are contributing to specific goals. There is no minimum or maximum number of goals to include in a project, but all goals should be specific and attainable within the duration of the project. Develop your objectives in such a way that measurable results and impact can be reported in future years. Do not specify exchange of information, coordination of research, or joint publications as objectives.


There should be a numbered procedure statement to align with each of numbered goals/objectives listed above. Each faculty member should provide information on what they will be doing to address the goals in which they are participating.


Describe the ways in which the project will be conducted, with emphasis on the general scientific methods and any unique aspects or significant departures from usual methods. Include a description of how the results will be analyzed, evaluated, or interpreted. Describe the efforts that will be used to cause a change in knowledge, actions, or conditions of a target audience. Include a description of how the output(s) will be evaluated and/or quantified for its impact on the intended audience(s).


Defining "Efforts": Efforts include acts or processes that deliver science-based knowledge to people through formal or informal educational programs. Examples include: formal classroom instruction, laboratory instruction, or practicum experiences; development of curriculum or innovative teaching methodologies; workshops; experiential learning opportunities; extension and outreach.


Defining "Evaluation": Demonstrating that evaluation will be part of your project means that you describe the plan/steps to be used to evaluate or "measure" the success of the project. Provide a listing of the types of evaluation studies planned and types of data that will be collected, emphasizing key milestones and measurable or quantitative indicators of success. The project evaluation plan should relate milestones and indicators of success to expected project outcomes/accomplishments and impacts.


Summarize the research methods that will be used to address each of the objectives. Explicit information should be included to enable the reviewers to evaluate the approach and the potential for successful completion. It is expected that methods for completing the objectives in the first two or three years of the project will be described in more detail than those for the later objectives. It should be made clear to reviewers how completion of initial objectives will lead into the later objectives.

Target Audience:

Provide a description of the target audience(s) that will be the focus of effort for the duration of the project.

Target audiences include individuals, groups, market segments, or communities that will be served by the project. Where appropriate, you should also identify population groups such as racial and ethnic minorities and those who are socially, economically, or educationally disadvantaged.

Expected Products:

Identify the standard products/outputs that are expected to be achieved during the life of this project. "Standard products" includes only major publications, patents, and applications for plant variety protection (PVP).

NIFA definition of "major publications":

Publications are the characteristic product of research. Agencies evaluate what the publications demonstrate about the excellence and significance of the research and the efficacy with which the results are being communicated to colleagues, potential users, and the public, not the number of publications.

Journal publications: Peer-reviewed articles or papers appearing in scientific, technical, or professional journals. Include any peer-reviewed publication in the periodically published proceedings of a scientific society, a conference, or the like. A publication in the proceedings of a one-time conference, not part of a series, should be reported under “Books or other non-periodical, one-time publications.”

Books or other non-periodical, one-time publications: Any book, monograph, dissertation, abstract, or the like published as or in a separate publication, rather than a periodical or series. Include any significant publication in the proceedings of a one-time conference or in the report of a one-time study, commission, or the like.

Other publications, conference papers and presentations: Identify any other publications, conference papers and/or presentations not reported above.

Expected Outcomes:

Provide a description of Expected Outcomes over the duration of the project. NIFA considers the terms "outcomes" and "accomplishments" to be synonymous. An outcome/accomplishment is defined as a significant change in knowledge, action, or condition. Outcomes are generally short, succinct statements that start with phrases indicating the occurrence of change. Examples of such phrases are:

     "Increase in the numbers of acres that..."

     "Decrease in the amount of children that..."

     "Increased profits from the sale of..."

Change in Knowledge: For a research project, a change in knowledge can be a breakthrough understanding in scientific knowledge.

Change in Action: A change in action occurs when a significant change in behaviors or practices results from the project’s activities.

Change in Condition: A change in condition occurs when a significant change in a condition of societal concern results from the project’s activities. If appropriate and available, outcomes should be supported with key, quantitative data, such as number of acres impacted, increased profits, or number of people impacted.

In terms of how the outcome types relate to each other, NIFA considers the highest achievement of any research or extension project to be an outcome categorized as change in condition. This is because a change in condition signifies that changes in action and learning occurred in order to perpetuate the change in condition. The second-ranked outcome type is change in action, and the third is change in knowledge. These rankings are not meant to diminish the importance of changes in action and knowledge. Rather, they are there to show that if you can demonstrate a change in condition, then it is not necessary to also list all the minute associated changes in action or knowledge. Likewise, if you can demonstrate a change in action, it is not necessary to list all the minute associated changes in knowledge.

Milestones and Timeline: 

Milestones: Timeline-linked accomplishments that need to be completed before subsequent activities can begin or can be completed.

Use the following format to provide an approximate timetable for the proposed work by objective. Indicate the work to be accomplished first.

Work to be accomplished    Year 1     Year 2     Year 3     Year 4   Year 5


Objective 1

Work to be accomplished         xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Work to be accomplished                 xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx


Objective 2

Work to be accomplished                  xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Work to be accomplished                     xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx


Objective 3

Work to be accomplished                             xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Work to be accomplished                                xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx


References Cited:

Use a standard format from a professional journal or grant application

Proposal Reviews:

Once the Proposal has been drafted, it should b distributed to at least two individuals for their, review, critique, and recommendations.  Reviewers must complete the information on the review sheet to indicate they have reviewed and rated the Proposal.

Proposal Signature Sheet:

The signature sheet is required by the AES to be the last page of the Proposal.  All project investigators, their respective department head, and members of the advisory committee (optional not the same as a project reviewer) must be knowledgeable and familiar with the proposed project.

To see a pdf of the capacity grant proposal instructions click here

To download a Microsoft template of the capacity grant proposal format click here