Proposal Guidelines

The Frank-Ratchye Fund for Art @ the Frontier was created by Ed Frank and Sarah Ratchye out of a passion for the “mining and mixing of art and science.” Their intention with this gift is to ensure Carnegie Mellon’s place at the forefront of artistic expression, and they expect the Frank-Ratchye STUDIO for Creative Inquiry to use it to support expansive experimentation and collaboration by its active faculty, staff and students.

Your proposal should place your project in this context, while providing specific details about your objectives, process and product. The directions below are intended to help you organize your proposal and present your information. Clarity and organization will help the selection committee in the review of your proposal.


General Advice

  • This set of guidelines is for FRFAF grants larger than $500. Microgrants (under $500) require less comprehensive support and justification.
  • Be sure to comply with all the basic requirements, eligibility rules, and application procedures.
  • Clarity matters. Write your proposal for a ‘general interest’ reader rather than a domain expert.
  • Have someone you trust review your proposal before it is submitted to check for errors. Carnegie Mellon’s Global Communication Center can provide additional guidance on writing your proposal.
  • Each section listed below corresponds to a field in the Online Application Form.

Part I. Abstract

The Abstract is a brief but specific statement that answers the following questions: what do you want to do, using what means and resources, and why is the project important to you, your field, and to the larger world?

Part II. Project Narrative

The project narrative is a detailed discussion of your proposed project, including the objectives, the methods you plan to use, and how your project relates and contributes to the particular creative field(s).

Proposals should include:

A. A detailed description of the creative work you intend to undertake:
1. What makes it original?
2. Why is it important that you undertake this project?
3. Objective or goal: What do you want to achieve?
4. Conceptual approach: How are you approaching the project?
5. Issues: What concern, problem, or need will the work address? (if applicable)
6. Approach: What medium and genre will you be using and why are they appropriate for this work?
7. Vision: What is your vision for the final project?
B. A discussion of how the proposed work fits into and advances the field’s current creative context and conversation:
1. What are the sources of inspiration for this project?
2. How does it build on or differ from past or current work by others in the field or in related fields?
3. In what specific ways will this work advance the current creative context and conversation?

Part IIa. Relevance to FRFAF Grant Program

The mission of the Frank-Ratchye Fund for Art @ the Frontier is to support “groundbreaking projects […] that can be described as ‘thinking at the edges’ of the intersection of disciplines.” In this section, please explain clearly how your proposed project is an example of practice “at the frontier”. What envelopes are you pushing? Which frontier(s) are you exploring?

Part III. Process

Describe the process involved with the project.

A. How do you plan to accomplish the project?
B. Provide a detailed timeline, including:
1. Pre-production research
2. Production schedule itemizing tasks and allocating time
3. Post-production, if applicable

Part IV. Biography

Describe your personal, professional, and educational background as they impact this project:

A. What formal and informal training have you had?
B. What relevant experiences have prepared you for this project?
C. How does your past work inform this project?

Part V. Outcomes

Outline the outcomes of your project:

A. Personal benefit: How will this project/product enhance your interests and skills, directions and opportunities for further work?
B. Exhibition/Presentation: How, where, when, and to whom do you plan to present your work? How will you disseminate your project, and the knowledge you have gained from it?

Part VI. Biographic Supporting Materials

All proposals must contain supporting materials to clarify the proposal. In this section, please provide documentation of your portfolio and relevant prior work, which demonstrates your talents and your capacity to execute the proposed project. You may upload a file directly to the application form, or you may provide a link to your website, Vimeo account, video reel on YouTube, etcetera. For uploads, we recommend PDF files; uploads are limited to 5MB.

Part VII. Project Supporting Materials

Include supporting materials in this section which provide evidence that your project is possible, that you have thought it through, and/or that you have produced a proof-of-concept. This might include sketches, mockups, or renderings of your proposed work, and/or documentation of your work-in-progress prototypes. Be sure to label all images with explanatory text. You may upload a file directly to the application form, or you may provide a link to your website, Vimeo account, video reel on YouTube, etcetera. For uploads, we recommend PDF files; uploads are limited to 5MB.

Part VIII. Budget

Consider your budget carefully. Include a listing of all the items you propose to purchase and your best estimate of the cost of each item. All expense items should be explained in a budget narrative included on your budget page and they should include specific vendor information – where you plan to purchase the item(s) and how much each item costs. All costs must be directly related to the proposed project and fully justified. The selection committee reserves the right to disallow certain line items, and to approve only partial budgets. If applicable, please mention any other sources of funding for the project in your budget narrative. See Sample Budgets for additional guidance.

Part IX. Other Funding Sources

Please list other funding sources to which you have applied, or intend to apply, for project support. This might include funds from your advisor or department; SURG (for undergraduate students), GuSH (for graduate students); and the Berkman Faculty Development Fund (for faculty and research staff).


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