Please set up each prospectus as shown below, including the section headings shown in bold. Use single spacing and aim for a one page document, or two pages at maximum. Don’t include the text below the headings: that’s guidance on what to address in each section. The purpose of the prospectus is to help make sure your project is focused and feasible before you get too far down the track. Since it’s a prospectus, not a final plan, be concise: each section can be just a couple of sentences. However, make it professional: pay attention to spelling and grammar, and number the pages.
Broad social problem
What is the big picture problem? You’ll eventually need to justify having other people spend real resources addressing it, so be sure it’s a compelling social problem and not just something that bugs you personally.
Specific problem and population affected
What specific aspect of the social problem are you addressing? Also, what is your target geographic area and demographic group? Be as specific and concrete as possible. It’s not required yet but you’ll eventually need to present evidence on the scope of the problem: that is, on the number of people affected and the severity of the problem they face.
Existing organizations working on the issue
What community organizations are already working on the problem, or are working on something close to it? This will be an important list: one of these organizations could become your partner. The others could be allies or, potentially, competitors for resources you’ll need. This section will never be empty: even if no one is working on exactly what you have in mind, someone will be working on a related problem.
Preliminary description of the action
What kind of new action do you want to launch? At this point, a rough idea is OK: you don’t need a detailed plan. However, you should start looking through the literature in the area. You’ll eventually need to provide a detailed plan for the action, and also provide some evidence that it could work: e.g., that it has been tried elsewhere and been successful.
Roughly what resources (people, money, time, space, etc.) will be needed for the action? Be careful not to underestimate: you’ll lose credibility later on if you approach a partner organization and haven’t been realisitic about what resources are required. Also, think about how you’ll recruit participants from the population you’re trying to reach.
Initial organization to engage
Identify at least one organization that could be a potential partner for your action. Why does the organization seem appropriate? Who will you contact there? It’s a good idea to read the organization’s mission statement to see if your project is consistent with it.
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Peter J Wilcoxen, The Maxwell School, Syracuse University