This activity is part of the Extinction Stinks! unit. 

1. Review the characteristics of strong grant proposals.
  • Remind students about the conclusions they drew from the Helping the Sumatran Rhino activity after evaluating two competing grant proposals to help conserve the Sumatran rhino.
  • Ask students to list some of the strengths they saw in those proposals. Based on their evaluations, these may include:
      • Clear storytelling that draws in the reader
      • Justification rooted in research about the issues faced by the species
      • Connects to other species besides just the target species
      • Considers needs of human populations as well as nonhuman species
      • Reduces costs when possible, but is realistic when costs need to be high to save a species in crisis
  • Remind students about the importance of telling a good story. 
      • Use the Elements of Storytelling infographic to guide students to tell a story that draws in the audience and makes them want to learn more.
2. Give students time to work in their small groups on their grant proposals.
  • Have students organize into their project groups and retrieve their Grant Proposal handout from the Helping the Sumatran Rhino activity. 
  • Facilitate collaboration among students as they draft each section of their grant proposal. 
      • Remind them to follow the structure of the Grant Proposal handout and refer to the first four rows of the Proposal and Pitch Rubric to ensure that their proposal meets the criteria for the project.
3. Have students provide peer feedback on grant proposals and groups’ solutions.
  • Once students have worked on their proposals, have student groups exchange proposals to provide constructive feedback using the project rubric. 
  • Ask students to consider:
      • What strengths can you identify in each other’s work? Where could they improve? 
      • If you were funding projects, what would persuade you to accept the proposal?

Informal Assessment

While students are working on their grant proposals, circulate and provide timely feedback if particular portions of the proposal could use more support. Intervene as needed if you notice interpersonal conflict, imbalance in work responsibility, or if a group is not on track to complete their grant proposal as scheduled. You can also use peer feedback as informal assessment of students’ work based on the depth and clarity provided to one another.

Extending the Learning

Have students explore what grants are available in real life for the kind of conservation they are trying to do. Several websites list grant applications and deadlines for those working with wildlife, including the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, the Land Trust Alliance, and the Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund. These grant submission websites often provide samples of strong grant proposals that show the level of detail needed to create a successful professional-level grant proposal.

Subjects & Disciplines

Learning Objectives

Students will:

  • Collaborate to write a grant proposal to support their idea for helping their target species.
  • Provide peer feedback on others’ proposals.

Teaching Approach

  • Project-based learning

Teaching Methods

  • Cooperative learning
  • Information organization
  • Writing

Skills Summary

This activity targets the following skills:

Connections to National Standards, Principles, and Practices

Common Core State Standards for English Language Arts & Literacy

Next Generation Science Standards

What You’ll Need

Required Technology

  • Internet Access: Required
  • Tech Setup: 1 computer per classroom, Projector

Physical Space

  • Classroom


  • Small-group work

Background Information

Grant proposals are a common way that nonprofit organizations secure funding for important projects that support causes like protecting endangered species. The goal of a grant proposal is to convince a potential funder that your work will be effective and is worth the financial investment. Telling a clear and compelling story is essential to getting funding for the project, as grants are usually highly competitive and hard to obtain.



management of a natural resource to prevent exploitation, destruction, or neglect.


organism threatened with extinction.


process of complete disappearance of a species from Earth.


money given to a person or group of people to carry out a specific project or program.

grant writing

process of applying to a person, business, or other organization for money or other funding.