CCLR’s Top 10 MARC Grant Application Do’s and Don’ts
Applying for an EPA MARC Grant may be the most important funding decision you make! CCLR has reviewed hundreds of applications, here are some of our top do’s and don’t ‘s.
Do: Have a budget that adds up
The easiest way to lose points and credibility is to present a budget with mistakes. Check your work! An accurate budget should also reflect your scope of work. If the focus is community outreach, this should be a prominent portion of your budget. Budgets can be dense or feel like a technicality, but this is all the more reason to demonstrate your attention to detail. Keep it simple, reliable and legible.
Do: Have a clear and compelling “why”
The narrative should convince the EPA that you are motivated! The why isn’t necessarily one specific part of your application, it should be woven throughout. Every detail should support your “why.”
Examples of questions that guide the “why”
- Why is this project important?
- What problems will this project address?
- What solutions are you proposing?
- Why is a MARC grant the most appropriate funding?
- Who stands to benefit from the project?
Do: Share specific evidence
Think of evidence as the outline for your proposal. Instead of relying on vague summary statements, hone in on the specifics that tell a story for you. Organize the facts into a cohesive timeline or framework, then go in and give context where necessary. It’s always more accessible for a reader who isn’t as close to the project to hear facts over analysis. They’ll be able to fill in their own assessment as they read, your job is to guide them through accurate details to convince them of your angle.
Do: Have proof of concept, what’s already being done
A grant is a big investment. Reviewers will want to be sure they’re sending funds to a reliable awardee. Show initiative and organization by including action items that are already underway. Maybe your team has been meeting regularly or conducting outreach, include that! Again, specific examples and metrics will serve you well. Don’t be shy! If you’ve worked hard, let them know.
Do: Send a draft of your grant to CCLR for review
CCLR provides annual review of EPA brownfield grants at no cost to you. In 2023, 87% of the applicants we supported through review services and technical assistance were successful in receiving grants – a total of over $35 million in funding! With 25 years of grant-review experience, we can help you overcome challenges that may have stymied you in the past.
After you have reviewed the Grant Application Checklist below, send your draft grant in Word format to [email protected] with a subject line following this convention: APPLICANT NAME_STATE_GRANT TYPE_Review Request. Exp. City of Whoville_OR_Cleanup_Review Request.
Grant reviewers will keep an eye out for repeat info. Redundancy slows the read and can come across as careless. You definitely don’t want the reviewer to be bored or think you’re giving less than 100%. Possibly worse, repeating yourself can seem like a desperate bid to reach the page limit. If you were a reviewer, would you be convinced by an application that didn’t have enough research or planning to present a breadth of information? Of course sometimes you will want to refer back to something you wrote earlier, in this case try language like “as noted in section XYZ…” instead of repeating what you wrote before. Repeat information can also signal that some rearranging is in order. Review your narrative and ensure the context unfolds in a way that makes sense.
Don’t: Overuse adverbs and superlatives
You might literally be the best, most awesome and most passionate team on the entire planet, but reviewers will be more convinced with evidence than flashy descriptors. Using a “show not tell” method means the conclusion that you are, in fact, the best applicant ever emerges naturally and undeniably. Obviously, just saying “I’m the best applicant ever” falls flat in comparison.
Don’t: Include footnotes and TMI that slows down the read
Are you sensing a theme yet? Keep it simple! Excess information, jargon and exhaustive references aren’t necessary and almost always impede clarity.
Don’t: Submit more than 11 pages at 12pt font
Reference the formatting specifications and keep to them. Like a messy resume or incomplete tax return, applications that don’t follow posted guidelines run the risk of being thrown out before they’re even considered.