Full Proposal Application Requirements

Finalist teams will have the opportunity to develop and refine their pre-proposals into 10-15 page full proposals due on Wednesday, March 8th, 2017. In this full proposal, finalists will expand on the ideas presented in their pre-proposals, edit their proposals based on judges’ feedback, and have the opportunity to refine their project ideas through collaboration with a Big Ideas mentor.

Finalists are instructed to submit full proposals between 10-15 pages, single-spaced (including their required budget and implementation timeline, but not references or appendices). Big Ideas recommends the format below to ensure students include critical proposal components, however, students are allowed to modify the order and presentation of the information as needed to tell their story. The basic components we ask students to include are:

1. Problem Statement

This section includes a clear description of and background information on the identified problem. An effective problem statement is thoroughly researched, shows a deep understanding of the issue, and builds a strong case to support why the project is needed. This includes but is not limited to: research/statistics on the problem, and/or research/statistics about the target community or market.

2. Existing Solutions

This section is an overview of any existing services, programs, interventions or products that have been designed or implemented to address this problem. Where applicable, applicants should discuss the limitations of these approaches, the gaps that still exist, and present research on what has been done in the past and where those solutions fell short.

3. Proposed Innovation

This section includes a summary of the innovative project (e.g. program, service, good, etc.) how it works, and its intended impact.  This is the “nuts and bolts” portion of the proposal and focuses on what the project will look like in its 1st year of implementation. It briefly explains any implementation challenges that may arise and how they will be addressed. It may note (but does not focus on) whether the project intends to scale up or expand in future years.

4. Implementation Timeline

The timeline describes the key next steps for implementing the idea for the 1st year only. Big Ideas awards will be disbursed in June/July 2017. Therefore, for the purposes of this contest, the 1st year is defined as June 2017-June 2018. Teams are allowed to mention work conducted prior to or after this 1-year timeline, but it should not be considered in their scoring.

5. Measuring Success

Teams should include information about how they will monitor or measure the impact or success of their project throughout the 1st year of implementation (June 2017-June 2018). This does not need to be a formal monitoring and evaluation plan, but can take the form of metrics and methods to make sure they can track their progress.

6. Budget

Includes both expected costs and revenue for the 1st year of the project (June 2017-June 2018).

Note: The average Big Ideas award is approximately $5,000 and proposals should not request more than $10,000 from Big Ideas. The requested amount form Big Ideas is typically seen in the “Funding Gap” section of the budget template we have suggested for use (available HERE but not all teams may choose to utilize this tool). Teams may also include any plans to leverage additional funding sources, if appropriate.

7. Team Bios

A list of key project team members with brief biographies that explain the capability of the team to pursue their idea.

Full Proposal Judging Criteria

Entries will be judged according to the criteria below.

Viability (40%): Given the project description and the team members’ expertise, skills, training, the team will likely be able to meet their proposed goals. (Please keep in mind that we asked teams to explain how their project would look and consider implementation in only the 1st year of their project.) For example:

  • The proposal demonstrates consideration of potential obstacles to implementation/ adoption and has proposed convincing solutions to address these challenges. 
  • The team has considered all relevant aspects of development, considered/developed viable marketing goals, effective marketing strategies, and realistic training and recruitment procedures for personnel or volunteers, if applicable. 
  • The team has identified and developed relationships with potential community partners, where applicable.
  • The project team members and partners possess the necessary skills and experience to be successful in implementing the project.

Community or Market Familiarity (15%): The team demonstrates a great deal of familiarity with the market or community they plan to enter (either through research, professional, or volunteer experience). The proposal discusses similar programs, projects, or products that currently exist (especially with regard to the target population), the issues that have emerged with those other initiatives, and specifically how their project compares. The proposal demonstrates that the applicants have given sufficient consideration to the cultural, ethical, and legal implications of their proposed intervention.

Potential for Impact (15%): The proposed project addresses a pressing and important social problem.  The team provides the reviewer with sufficient statistics and research to understand the problem, and makes a clear and compelling case that their project addresses this need.

Realistic Budget (10%): The proposal includes a thorough and realistic budget that outlines all relevant expected expenses and revenue for the project’s 1st year. The budget demonstrates that the applicants have given sufficient consideration to necessary supplies, equipment, travel expenses, etc.  The funding requested from Big Ideas is no greater than $10,000.  If the projects’ expenses are greater than $10,000 total, the team has a reasonable plan to raise additional funds (e.g., the team has plans to submit additional grant applications, fundraise, etc.).

Measuring Success (10%): The proposal demonstrates a viable plan for measuring success in achieving the project’s goals.  The exact measurement tools (e.g. survey instruments) need not be developed at this stage, but the proposal should explain what will be measured, when/how it will be measured, and justify how those measurements lead to the achievement of the team’s desired impact.

Quality and Creativity (10%): The project is innovative, the overall merit of this idea is high, and this is an idea worth funding.

Full Proposal FAQ

1. I'm a student from an eligible campus, but my teammates are not. Are we eligible for the contest?
Yes. Only one team member is required to be a matriculated UC student from an eligible campus.

2. What if my team wasn't finalized by the time the pre-proposal was due?
We understand that team building is a primary challenge teams face during the pre-proposal round; however, your team should be complete by the full proposal deadline to show that you will have all the skills necessary to implement your project.

3. Do references count toward the page limit?
No. Full proposals should be a single PDF document at least ten pages, but no more than fifteen, long, including a budget spreadsheet, but not including references or an appendix. For consistency and fairness purposes, the proposal must be typed in Times New Roman size 12 font, single-spaced, with one-inch margins.

4. Are appendices allowed in the full proposal proposal round?
Yes! Unlike the pre-proposal round, appendices are allowed in the final-round.

5. How strict are the section divisions and order of sections? Can I add an additional section or rearrange sections?
You may rearrange the sections as it makes sense for your proposal, and you can add an additional section(s) if you think it will enhance your proposal. That said, make sure that you include a section (and the appropriate section heading) for each of the sections described on the pre-proposal application requirements, as the judging criteria focus on the information provided in each of those sections.

6. Are there any restrictions on what kinds of expenses can be covered with Big Ideas funds? Are there certain expenses, like travel or personnel costs, that I shouldn’t include in my budget document?
There are no restrictions on what expenses can be covered with Big Ideas funds. Past winners have budgeted for personnel costs (e.g., hiring a programmer or marketing consultant), domestic and international travel, marketing costs, building materials costs, and so on. Typically, teams do not include a salary for themselves in their budget. However, note that you should not request more than $10,000 from Big Ideas. If your project requires more than $10,000 in funding, note other funding sources you are pursuing in the Revenue section of the budget (and include in the Notes section whether you’ve applied for this money and not yet received it, have received it, etc.)

7. Typically, how large are Big Ideas awards?
Each year, Big Ideas supports between 65-75% of finalist teams with award funding. The average award amount is $5,000, but awards can range from $1,000 to $10,000 based on the overall quality of the proposal. Successful proposals typically assume that a Big Ideas award can cover $5,000 of their project expenses. Proposals should not request more than $10,000 from Big Ideas in their budgets.

8. My project has a definite end date. How should I address this in my proposal?
The proposal asks you to include a one-year timeline and a budget for the 1st year of your project. If your project is expected to last less than one year for any reason, address this in your project description, timeline, and budget. As long as you explicitly state that you are not projecting further because you project will end on such and such date, you are set!

9. Must I use a particular writing style to format my references?
No. As long as you are consistent, you can format your references any way you choose.

10. Can I include photos or graphs in my final proposal, or must the proposal contain only written information?
Yes! You can include figures in your proposal to help explain your project, but they will count toward the page limit. Any image not created by your team should be properly cited. If you are worried about losing space for writing, you can include more images in an appendix.

11. I am concerned about someone stealing my idea. Are proposals kept confidential?
As in the pre-proposal round, applicants are required to complete a webform with information about their team and a brief description of their project. Applicants will then attach their proposal and budget (preferably as one PDF document). The Big Ideas Contest reserves the right to use the brief description of the project in the webform publicly. However, your attached proposal will be kept confidential. If you are concerned about protecting your idea, do not put any protected information in short description.

12. If my project receives funding through Big Ideas, how are the award payments handled? Can we have the funds sent to an NGO or local partner?
Big Ideas awards must be disbursed either to a) a registered student (from an eligible campus), b) an ASUC student group account, or c) a campus research account of a faculty advisor. Awards cannot be disbursed to partners, non-profits, or students from non-eligible campuses. The Team Lead (primary applicant) will be the main contact person for all Big Ideas communications and must be a matriculated student at an eligible campus. The Team Lead has final authority in determining prize disbursement options. Additional details about award options can be found by clicking here.

13. Who are the full proposal judges? May I contact the judges at any point during the contest?
The judges are Berkeley faculty members and business professionals with content expertise in your category area. However, many projects focus in a specific area within the broad Big Ideas categories, so when writing your pre-proposal, assume that your reader has some general knowledge of the field (e.g., energy efficient technologies or global poverty), but no specialized knowledge in your particular project area. Be sure not to use jargon and explain technical terms. Judges’ identities will remain anonymous throughout the contest. You will receive written feedback from the judges, but you will not be given access to the names or contact information of the judges.

Full Proposal Examples

Click the links below to download examples of past exemplary full proposals.

Pre-proposal - Full Proposal Example 1 Full Proposal Example 2

Full Proposal Writing Tips

Full Proposal Writing Tips

Additional Resources:

Budget Template

Click the link below to download the Excel budget template you are required to submit with your proposal.  Feel free to edit this spreadsheet as necessary (e.g., add or remove rows or sections).

Download the Budget Template (.xls)