We encourage applicants to meet with us before submitting a proposal. To schedule a meeting, and to request examples of successful proposals in various funding categories, contact Assistant Director Rachel Arteaga.
Tips for Effective Proposal Writing
The Simpson Center eagerly invites project proposals that support our goals of crossdisciplinary exchange and scholarship at the leading edge of change. We hope the following will be helpful in drafting your proposal.
Scope and Context
- Describe your project in language clear to academic non-specialists—that is, for a broad, crossdisciplinary group of reviewers in the humanities and humanistic social sciences.
- What are the intellectual ambitions of the project? What are the research questions around which the project revolves?
- Explain the topic of research within a broader context: What is its contribution to your scholarly field, to larger issues, or to society at large? Describe the intellectual significance and the value of the project.
- What has been done thus far to address the question, and how does your approach fit into that? What will be your methodology?
- What research interests and skills do you and other team members bring to the project?
- What is the timeline for the project? Will there be different phases to the project? What will be accomplished in the timeframe of the grant?
- What project components will require funding? Your budget should detail expenses as clearly as possible.
- How much money are you requesting from the Simpson Center, and how much have you requested from other sources?
- What impact will your project have? What will be the results of your project?
- How will the project benefit the UW? Will the project provide any opportunities for graduate students?
- Is there a public dimension to the project? Will it address or benefit the broader public?
- For public projects, describe the audiences, partners, and other stakeholders.
- For digital projects, identify the platforms and tools to be used and address the issues of access and preservation.
- For conferences, who will be the participating scholars or organizations? If professional organizations or other academic units are involved, specify the administrative and financial support they will provide.
Budget Building Guidelines and Sample Budgets
Below are some basic guidelines on building a budget. Your proposal budget should be bundled into your submission as part of your PDF.
$300‐750 national, $1,200‐2,000 international. When checking fares, it is best to use quotes from UW contract travel agencies or airline providers for travel between the guest's home and Seattle, as this is how we purchase and reimburse airfare. (For UW policies on travel, consult the Travel Office.)
$120 is a good figure to accommodate all legs of ground transport (taxi, Lyft, Uber, etc.).
The Simpson Center’s preferred hotel is the Graduate Hotel. Its nightly rate varies based chiefly on time of year. Winter is low season; late spring and early fall are high season. $200 is a good estimate. The hotel is within walking distance to campus and has both a casual restaurant/bar and a coffee shop. Let us know if you prefer to use another hotel.
A note on planning hotel stays: for guests flying in from east of the Rockies, flights departing Seattle to fly east are almost all morning flights (6:30am-10:30am departures), or red-eyes with a layover (departing Seattle 7:30-10:30pm). For this reason, we recommend adding an extra night for east coast guests (e.g. For a Thursday afternoon lecture, guest flies in Wednesday evening, departs Friday morning, total of 2 nights; for a Thursday afternoon lecture + workshop, guest flies in Wednesday evening, departs Saturday morning, unless red-eye preferred).
Many conferences provide honoraria as well as travel expenses only for keynote speakers; conferences that feature only invited speakers or multiple plenary sessions may do otherwise.
The amounts for conference speakers varies. For visiting faculty speakers, we suggest $500 for assistant professors, $750 for associate professors, and $1000 for full professors. A larger honorarium is sometimes offered when the speaker is engaged for multiple days in workshops, seminars, and/or class visits in addition to a lecture. Local speakers generally take less time out of their schedules for a lecture or visit and often receive smaller honoraria. If you'd like to proposal a different amount, please discuss with the Simpson Center before submitting your proposal. Generally, we do not process honoraria for conference speakers for less than $200 (graduate research clusters may offer $200 or less). To give more minimal and symbolic forms of support, we suggest offering travel funds.
Food & Beverage
These estimates allow for drop‐off and/or service fees, and applicable permits.
- $20/person: Simpson Center lunch
- $200: standard Simpson Center reception for 30 people
- $50/person: hearty appetizers by outside caterer for up to 30 people
- $85/person: restaurant dinner for up to 8 people
- $75/person: catered dinner at Simpson Center or faculty home for up to 14 people
We do not recommend a restaurant dinner for over 8 people. Instead, we suggest a reception for a large group and then a dinner for a small group. This is a perfect way to facilitate conversation after a lecture between all the attendees, and then take the guest lecturer and a few people out for intimate conversation.
The Simpson Center makes its space available gratis and we prioritize scheduling funded projects in our space.
There are occasions that funded projects need larger rooms or our space is not available.
Other options include:
See a full list of campus facilities and venues with UW contracts. Off‐campus facilities may provide contracts or invoices for use of their space.
If you have audiovisual needs, be sure to inquire about the availability and cost of equipment and/or support.
The Simpson Center’s Executive Board may grant UW faculty a research fund of $1,500 to organize a complex conference or speaker series. The Simpson Center also offers a research fund to teach a one-credit micro‐seminar in conjunction with a conference or symposium.
Per Diem Expenses
As a practice, the Simpson Center does not pay per diem expenses. Instead, we encourage UW hosts to organize lunches and dinners with invited speakers.
Budgets should detail anticipated expenses and sources of revenue and include in the budget proposal.
Budgets should detail anticipated expenses and sources of revenue. Where possible, expenses should be broken out in detail.
- Sample Project Budget A: Speaker Series outlines a budget for 3 invited speakers and includes honoraria, transportation and accommodations, meals/events, and basic publicity.
- Sample Project Budget B: Medium-Sized Conference outlines a budget for 8 invited speakers (6 domestic, 2 international). Includes honoraria, transportation and accommodations, meals, venue considerations, programs, and basic publicity for a conference lasting approximately 2.5 days.
Roles and Responsibilities
In reviewing proposals for Simpson Center support, the Executive Board may decide to provide funding and staff support as requested; it may also provide partial support. It may suggest partnering with other units in support of the project or rescaling the project according to available resources.
The following provides a general overview of the administrative requirements for collaborative projects such as conferences, symposia, and speaker series. It outlines how the roles and responsibilities for supporting such projects are commonly divided between the faculty project coordinators and Simpson Center staff. In some cases, we may request that a faculty member’s home department cover some roles and responsibilities.
If your proposal is selected for support, we will prepare an individualized advance agreement and review it with you.
The following list is a general, non-exhaustive overview of the roles and responsibilities of faculty and staff collaborating on Simpson Center funded projects.
Faculty coordinators (principal investigators) are responsible for:
- Meeting with Simpson Center staff to establish an agreed-upon project plan, with deadlines
- Coordinating event dates and venues with the Simpson Center
- Developing the concept and structure of the event(s)
- Issuing and tracking invitations to participate in various parts of the program
- Direct correspondence with and contact for invited guests regarding the terms of the invitation and the content of the program
- Conveying this information to Simpson Center staff according to agreed-upon schedules
- Creating and communicating the guest itinerary for the visit (including lunches, dinners, and local transportation arrangements) to all participants
- Preparing a report on the event
Simpson Center Staff
The Simpson Center may support all or some of the following project administration needs; it may seek to partner with another unit on the same:
- Booking venues for the event
- Arranging visas, as required
- Arranging hotel accommodations, as required
- Arranging air travel and/or processing reimbursement for travel, as required
- Processing honoraria, as specified
- Arranging catering, according to support plans and budget
- Developing, scheduling, and publicizing related courses
- Scheduling or hiring project support, according to budget and needs
- Preparing and distributing publicity, according to budget and needs
- Processing reimbursement for budgeted meals (hosted dinners, etc.)
- Coordinating payments and transfers with other units supporting the project/event
The Simpson Center offers publicity assistance for funded projects through a variety of channels. You can learn more about our how we support funded projects through our Project Toolkit.