Search strategy
Here is a good, basic formula for getting started with your grant/proposal writing project:
  1. Begin by using the keyword brainstorming worksheet docx to help you tweak your research question, identify keywords and related terms, and keep track of what you find.  
  2. Search in a library catalog (Summon, OBIS, OhioLINK and/or WorldCat) to find books and reference sources.  They provide BACKGROUND and CONTEXT, review and SUMMARIZE earlier work, help you FOCUS your topic and provide CITATIONS to important books, journal articles, conference papers, interviews, etc.
  3. Next, search research databases to find articles. The Library has hundreds of databases available, but the ones listed below are good places to begin.
  4. You may also wish to use Google or Google Scholar to search the Internet.  Take advantage of Google's advanced search features!
  5. Finally, use the CRAAP test worksheet pdf to evaluate the sources you find!
Documenting needs in communities
American FactFinder (U.S. Census Bureau) Unrestricted Resource Some full text available
Great place to find population, housing, economic and geographic data. Also access data sets, maps, fact sheets, tools and other resources.   

National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) Unrestricted Resource
NCES is the primary federal entity for collecting and analyzing data related to education.

State & County QuickFacts (U.S. Census Bureau) Unrestricted Resource Some full text available
QuickFacts includes statistics for all states and counties, and for cities and towns with more than 5,000 people.

ProQuest Statistical Abstract of the U.S. Restricted Resource Some full text available
A comprehensive summary of statistics on the social, political, and economic organization of the United States. Use the Abstract as a convenient volume for statistical reference, and as a guide to sources of more information both in print and on the Web.

ProQuest Statistical Insight Restricted Resource Some full text available
Provides access to statistical information produced by U.S. Federal agencies, states, private organizations, and major intergovernmental organizations. Some tables available as Excel spreadsheets.

ERIC (Education Resources Information Center) Restricted Resource Some full text available
The world's largest source of education information, with indexing and detailed descriptions of over 1.4 million journal articles, books, documents, research reports, surveys, curriculum and teaching guides, instructional materials, position papers, program overviews, conference papers, and other resource materials.  All areas of education research and practice are included. Many items include full text. Maintained by the U.S. Dept. of Education. Dates of Coverage: 1966 to date

Education Full Text Restricted Resource Some full text available

Indexes articles from education journals and books. Topics include teaching methods, multicultural/ethnic education, alternative and comparative education, testing, policy issues, teacher evaluation, school administration, higher education, and more. Selective access to full-text articles from about 350 journals. Dates of coverage:  1983 to date

Social Explorer Unrestricted Resource
Provides access to current and historical U.S. census and other demographic data. Users can create maps and reports.

NCJRS Abstracts Database (National Criminal Justice Reference Service) Unrestricted Resource Some full text available
Indexes and summarizes criminal justice publications, including books, journal articles, unpublished research, and federal, state, and local government reports.  Subject areas include corrections, courts, crime prevention, drugs, law enforcement, juvenile justice, crime statistics, and victimology. Dates of Coverage: 1970s to date

News and newspapers

See the NEWS AND NEWSPAPERS section of the library’s web page for finding guides to Cleveland Plain Dealer and Oberlin newspapers, including the Oberlin News Tribune. Microfilm copies of all Oberlin related newspapers are located on the main level of Mudd!

Academic Search Complete Restricted Resource Some full text available Resource contains images
Multidisciplinary - good for nearly all subjects. Scholarly and trade journals, popular magazines, newspapers, conference proceedings, book reviews, and more.
Access Newspaper Archive Restricted Resource Some full text available -- Includes Elyria Chronicle Telegram (1919-2012)

Ethnic NewsWatch Restricted Resource Some full text available
Full-text coverage of newspapers, magazines and journals of the ethnic, minority and native press in America. Dates of Coverage:  1959 to date

Factiva Restricted Resource Some full text available Resource contains images Resource contains video Resource contains audio
Full-text global news sources, including newspapers, newswires, television and radio transcripts, numerous regional and industry publications, and images from Reuters. Content comes from ~160 countries in 22 languages. 

LexisNexis Academic Restricted Resource Some full text available
A wide range of news, political, legal, and business information from thousands of sources, mostly full text. Includes newspapers, magazines, wire services, federal and state court opinions, federal and state statutes, federal regulations, and SEC filings. News information is updated daily and wire services several times daily.

Research help
Accessing Foundation Directory Online
Go to You must have a librarian (not a student assistant!) log you in -- we are unable to share the password.  Keep in mind the hours that the Research Help Desk is open

There is help if you need it along the way:
Specific strategies for using The Foundation Directory Online :
•    Utilize the built-in index that the database provides to get subject terms (hint: click “view index.”)
•    Try using each of the search types: Grantmakers, Companies, Grants, 990s
•    Use Boolean searching: AND, OR, NOT (e.g., female OR girl OR woman)
•    Don’t forget about truncating: wom* (for woman, women, women’s)
•    Have a clear purpose and have answers to these questions: Who is the audience served? What need will your idea meet?  What makes your idea unique from others? How much ($$) are you seeking?
•    Keep track of all potentially useful information you find! (You may either cut and paste the info into a Word document or use the built-in “Save” feature to save a PDF of pages

Criteria for identifying likely funding sources
  • Geography:  Match your needs with a funder that has an interest in your geographic region or a corporation that has its headquarters or a plant in your area of interest.
  • Interests / Values:  Match your goals with the interests of possible funders.  Find foundations that have the same values as your organization or in line with your goals.
  • Past recipients: What other organizations has this funder supported in the past?
  • Obtain the grantmaker’s guidelines or a grant application to further determine its potential to meet your criteria.  Often, this information can be found on a grantmaker’s web site.
  • Be aware that economic conditions may affect the foundation’s finances and willingness/ability to provide funding.
  • Carefully consider the motivations of foundations.  Company-sponsored foundations act out of both philanthropy and self-interest.  Public charities or family foundations may have specific issue areas or geographic interests.
Other funding resources
IRIS Database (access is by Oberlin College IP address)
Contains over 8,600 active federal and private funding opportunities in the sciences, social sciences, arts, and
humanities. In addition to funding opportunities for faculty, the IRIS Database also contains fellowships and scholarships for grad students and undergrads. Users can search IRIS by sponsor, deadline date, keyword, and other criteria. Most IRIS records contain links to sponsor Web sites.
Community of Science Funding Opportunities
The most comprehensive source of funding information available on the Web, with more than 25,000 records,
representing over 400,000 funding opportunities, worth over $33 billion.  Sponsors include private foundations, public agencies, national and local governments, corporations and more.  Funding is available for work in all disciplines (such as physical, social and life sciences, health & medicine, arts & humanities) and for many purposes, such as research, collaborations, travel, curriculum development, conferences, fellowships, postdoctoral positions, equipment acquisitions, capital or operating expenses.  (Note: you must sign up for a free account in order to search the database)
The Foundation Center's guide to proposal writing / Jane C. Geever, Foundation Center, 2007
Main Reference   HG177.5.U6 G44 2007    Library use only
This title is available in the Reference collection.  You may want to pay particular attention to Chapter 11: Researching Potential Funders.
The Foundation directory / Foundation Center (26th ed)
Main Reference    AS911.A2F65  (2 volumes)    Library use only
Provides descriptions of grantmakers, including private grant-making foundations, community foundations, operating Foundations, and corporate grantmakers.  Indexes include Personal Name Index (donors, trustees, officers), Geographic Index, International Giving and Subject Index. Part I: Grants $25,000 - $100,000
Part II: Grants $10,000 - $25,000

Foundation Grants to Individuals / Foundation Center (16th ed)
Main Ref Col&Car    LB2336.F599     Library use only
Information about foundations that provide funding opportunities  for individuals in the areas of:  Education, Arts & Culture and Research.   It containts seven different indexes: Subject Index, International Giving,  Geographic Index, Specific School Index, Grantmaker Index, Type of Support and Company Name Index.
Gathers and publicizes information about nonprofit organizations. combines the information that nonprofits supply with data from several other sources such as on GuideStar’s web site, on their many client Web sites and in computer applications used by funding entities and private companies who work with nonprofits. is the only website that provides a comprehensive listing of the most current funding
opportunities: Federal, Foundation grants for nonprofits, for-profits, preschools, education, community, faith based organizations, universities, small businesses and government.
Need help writing your grant?
Proposal Writing Short Course – From the Foundation Center. Essential information from the Foundation Center if you are planning to write a proposal to a private funder. 
GrantSAT (Grant Proposal Self-Assessment Tool)
An instrument for evaluating and improving the quality of proposals. Good tool to use for peer-evaluation of proposals (i.e., evaluating a classmate’s proposal and vice versa).
Tools and Resources for Assessing Social Impact (TRASI)
From, a service of the Foundation Center. A searchable database for finding different approaches to impact assessment, guidelines for creating and conducting an assessment, and ready-to-use tools for measuring social change.

Grant Proposal Writing guide -- From University of Wisconsin - Madison. Includes many book and web resources
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