Grant Application Instructions


Please read this section carefully. It provides general information on how you must prepare your proposal for submission. The following points make it easier for reviewers to concentrate on your ideas and to understand your proposed project.

  • You are encouraged to be innovative and creative in your approach and in developing project activities.
  • Grants funded under this RFP are subject to the availability of federal funds. The initial grants are generally for a two-year period unless otherwise noted in a particular objective. The Council may renew the grant for up to three more years as indicated in each Objective statement. A detailed work plan, along with a PERT chart is required detailing the work of that initial two year period, along with a narrative description of your future plans should you receive continuation funding for those later years.
  • Your proposal must be prepared with an executive summary and the four Parts described below.
  • While the Council does not impose page limits on applications, we do have a strong preference for proposals that are clear and concise. Applications that are unnecessarily long, too wordy or full of jargon are difficult to read and may hurt your review score.
  • Proposals must be typewritten.
  • For each Part of your proposal, use a divider with a tab that clearly numbers that section.
  • Consecutively number each page of the proposal.
  • Staple or bind the proposal together. Do not submit proposals in hardcover three ring binders. Soft-sided binders or covers may be used.

Executive Summary

Each proposal must begin with a brief, one page Executive Summary. This summary should succinctly describe the nature of the problem being addressed and what you intend to do about it.

PART ONE - What do you propose to do?

In Part One, bidders have the opportunity to more completely describe their proposed project. What is it that you propose to do?   How will your approach address the problems you have identified?   How will your effort contribute to system change? Succinctly describe why you believe that your proposed approach will accomplish our Objective in such a way as to be coherent with the Council's stated Vision, Mission and Statement of Values.

Give a full step‑by‑step plan for doing the work. You must include a detailed plan of years one and two of your proposed project in PERT chart form that shows major activities, time frames, responsible personnel and expected outcomes. You should also include a briefer narrative description of the future work, potential years 3 – 5, should your grant receive continuation funding.   A sample PERT chart is included in

Appendix C of this book. You should address each of the required activities in the relevant Objective Statement.

The Council expects that all funded projects will address issues of system change in a broad range of social and cultural systems that impact people with disabilities. How does the work of this project illustrate a better way to do something? How does the project connect with other activities that are working in similar areas? The Route to Success Matrix provides a set of activities that are linked to successful system change, and your proposal should include a section that shows how your work fits into the matrix. Briefly, the model identified a number of activity types – creating a knowledge base, selecting social strategies, supporting policy entrepreneurs, and creating stakeholder will – that together, can create the momentum necessary for system change. In each proposal that the Council will review, it is expected that at least one of these activities will form the core of the work that the prospective grantee will undertake. The model is described in detail in Appendix A.

The Council supports the full participation of all citizens in Council funded projects. We believe that diversity and inclusion strengthen the impact of any of our grant projects, and encourage our grantees to pursue such meaningful participation through hiring practices, real involvement in the planning stages of your grant, in oversight and management of your project, as well as recruitment for participation in the project itself.

You must describe what steps your project will take to ensure the active and meaningful participation of people with developmental disabilities in your project. Such participation includes not only being project participants, but also involvement of people with disabilities in the planning, direction, management, evaluation or as employees of the project.

You must also describe in practical terms, what steps your project will take to ensure minority participation in your project and how the project will increase its competence in working with, including, assisting and involving people from different cultures.

Additionally, upon receiving a Council grant, the organization housing the project agrees to conduct a self-assessment using the tool “Paving the Way: A Toolkit for Assessing and Advancing Cultural and Linguistic Competency”. This tool was developed specifically for the Pennsylvania Developmental Disabilities Council and its grantees to assist projects and their host organizations to become more culturally competent. The toolkit is available for download from our website at

PART TWO - What outcomes do you expect for the project?

In PART TWO describe exactly what your project will achieve. Provide a concise list of outcomes you plan to achieve. You should build on, rather than simply repeat, the expected outcomes from the Objective Statements.

State your proposed outcomes in measurable form. When possible, outcomes should be quantifiable. The Council recognizes some projects will lend themselves more to achieving concrete changes than will others. Where it is not possible to document specific changes, alternative measures of "output" (reports prepared, recommendations made, bills proposed) or "processes" (people who attended training sessions, meetings held, letters written) may be used instead.   Quality outcomes could also include participant satisfaction with services provided, stakeholder assessments of the efforts of the project, and/or perceptions of the likelihood that the services, supports and products offered will ultimately lead to the achievement of the Council's and the project's goals.   Many proposed efforts are dependent on influencing larger systems, or mobilizing coalitions in order to achieve concrete change, and we will accept evidence of these efforts as substitutes for end outcomes.

Note please that the Council understands that the demonstration of direct causal relationships is not always possible. However we would like you to tell us, based on such data as exist and known outcomes, why you think your work will lead to beneficial outcomes for people with disabilities. This may be in the form of a narrative, chart, diagram, logic model, etc.

PART THREE - Who will do the work?


Describe who will work on this project. Tell us why they are qualified to do this particular work. Their qualifications and experiences may be formal (degrees and professional work histories) or informal (life experiences and volunteer work). Pay particular attention to describing your project's key employees. If staff will be hired once a grant is awarded, describe what qualifications and experiences you will look for in recruiting personnel.


Briefly describe your organization's experience in the creation, operation, and/or involvement in projects similar to the work being requested. Illustrate how the proposed project fits with the organization's mission and history. The description of your organization's experience should be pertinent to the work requested in this RFP, as opposed to other, perhaps unrelated work the organization does. If you have done work in the past that related to the activities in the Route to Success Matrix, it would be appropriate to detail that work here. Describe what types of administrative support will be given to the project.

The inclusion of letters of support, which are relevant to the proposed project, is strongly encouraged. If you have indicated that your project is a collaborative effort with other groups or organizations, then you must include Letters of Collaboration from each group involved. Include all such letters as an appendix to your proposal

PART FOUR - The Budget Form & Narrative

Use the format outlined in the Budget Form in Appendix C of this book. The budget section must also include a separate budget narrative page detailing, by line item, how grant funds will be used.

Certain costs are not allowable under Council grants. These costs would include entertainment expenses, alcoholic beverages, and ‘incentives’ or gifts to project participants such as gift cards, event tickets or prizes. Grantees are permitted to cover expenses to participants that would be reasonable accommodations to participation, such as travel expenses, attendant care and the like.

All Council grants require a local match contribution. Further budget definitions are noted below. Please be certain that you budget your grant for a two year, 24-month period, unless specifically noted otherwise in the Objective Statement. Any indirect cost rates must be fully supported as described in the Budget Definitions below.

The Commonwealth is not responsible for any costs your organization incurs prior to the issuance of your grant.


The total cost of your project equals the federal share plus the local match share.  All grantees are required to contribute a local match to their project.

General Formula

Step 1: Federal Request
=  Local Match
example: 75,000
 =  25,000

Step 2:  Federal Request + Local Match  =  Total Grant
example:  75,000 + 25,000
 =  100,000


FEDERAL SHARE: This is the amount of the DD Council Allocation as noted at the end of each Objective Statement.

LOCAL MATCH SHARE: This is your portion of the grant and is generally based on 25% of your Total Budget.  The Local Match Share consists of 'in kind' value and/or non federal cash contributions.

NOTE: To calculate the local match share for the 25% required match, divide the amount of your federal dollar request by three.

PERSONNEL: Show each position by job title, the number of hours per week that the person will work on the project, and the position's hourly rate of pay.

FRINGE BENEFITS: Shown as a separate line item in the personnel category.

OPERATIONS: The operating expenses of your proposed budget should include all items that are not related to personnel or equipment costs.  Included in operational expenses are sub grant costs, consultant costs, travel costs, and leased equipment costs, etc.  Again, the federal and local shares should be shown.

TRAVEL: All grantees are required to follow the Commonwealth Travel Rules, which includes such items as mileage reimbursement rates (currently 55.5 cents per mile). Details of these requirements will be reviewed with all successful applicants as a part of the formal grant process.

EQUIPMENT: The Council does not encourage projects to purchase major equipment unless a direct and imperative relationship to the project can be shown. Show each item to be purchased with federal funds and justify in your budget narrative.

INDIRECT COSTS: 1) If you have a federally approved, negotiated indirect cost agreement, you may use that rate; attach the approved agreement to your budget. 2) If you do not have a federally approved rate, justification specifying what is included in your indirect cost(s) and what rate, therefore, you use, must be attached to your budget. For more information on developing an indirect cost rate, see Appendix B of this book.

BUDGET NARRATIVE: This is a written statement, by line item, which details how money will be spent in each category and how you arrived at a given cost for that item.


  1. Submit your printed proposal with original signature along with seven (7) copies to Division of Procurement, Department of Public Welfare, Health and Welfare Building, Room 402 Commonwealth Avenue and Forster Street, Harrisburg, PA 17105-2675. Use the mailing label found in Appendix C of this book. Proposals submitted to the Council's office will not be accepted.
  2. The proposal must be received by the Division of Procurement in the Department of Public Welfare on or before 2:00 p.m. of the date noted at the end of each Objective Statement.   Late proposals will not be accepted for any reason.  Faxed proposals will not be accepted.  
  3. Applicants must use the "Title Page" form included in Appendix C of this book. The Title Page is the cover sheet for your proposal. An authorized official of your organization who can bind you to the provisions of your proposal for 150 days from submission must sign this Title Page.