How to Design a Project Proposal for a Community Development Program

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Associates gathering for a community development event.
Associates gathering for a community development event. (Image: Fiona Goodall/Getty Images News/Getty Images)

Community development projects are vital for turning a city or town’s weaknesses into strengths. Regardless of whether the focus is on beautifying the community, improving education or enhancing the quality of life, each project is a step closer to where a city or town wants to be in the future. However, getting any community development project off the ground requires both stakeholder support and adequate funding. A project proposal seeks to accomplish both objectives.

Be Specific

Community development projects typically get funding from multiple sources. Each pitch will require a customized summary section. Ask for a specific dollar amount, explain exactly how you plan to use the funds and describe how the money will benefit the project. Briefly describe the project in the first paragraph. Start the second paragraph with a statement such as “The proposal requests $500,000 for the training and education portion of a Housing Redevelopment program.” Continue by explaining how the money will expand consumer counseling services and construction training for unemployed people, thus benefiting both the community and its residents.

Define and Analyze Problems

Describe each problem the project will address in the narrative section. However, it’s not enough to include a simple list of facts or statistics. Paint a picture that helps stakeholders understand each problem, its root causes and potential or actual effects. If you’re talking about unemployment, provide demographics, poverty rate and unemployment statistics, then provide a full analysis. For example, you might site lack of education levels, lack of or mismatched skills and disappearing opportunities as root causes.

Justify the Solution

Project justification explains why this project is the best way to address the problem. For example, if the proposal is for a computer-training center, list project activities along with a training timeline. Explain how training will create employment opportunities. Provide employment projections and average salaries, and describe how this training will benefit the community. Mention any federal or state support, such as grants or subsidies, that may be available as additional financial or physical asset support.

Include Cost and Budget Information

Outline project costs for the portion you’re asking for in the body of the proposal. Provide cost estimates and describe what’s covered. For example, if you’re asking for $100,000 to cover administrative costs, let stakeholders know the money will cover financial and program reporting requirements, accounting and auditing costs, payroll and office supplies. Help stakeholders understand the full scope of the project by attaching a full, detailed program budget as an appendix.

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