This activity will use all of the familiar skills you might have from writing assignments. The form will be word processed document of not more than 1500 words. The proposal should include headings, page numbers, and other formatting elements to help with legibility. The genre will be a mix of report and persuasive argument. Imagine that you have a chance to submit your project idea to a group of potential funders. You want to give them as much key information--calling for research--and you want to convince them to support your proposal. The key will be linking the arguments to elements of the research and background. For instance, if you wanted to convince people that a networked toothbrush had merit, you might lay the foundation with background about the amount of time spent brushing teeth each day or about the range of networked devices for other unexpected products that have been successful. 

So, you are making a short proposal that reports on background information and argues for the value of your product. As a challenge, though, we will also organize the report around an idea. This can be something grand and compelling like life is short. Or it might be something more narrowly scoped like machines can make us healthy. Or you might even have a convergence of ideas that relate to each other. The idea should relate to the product, and might even shape your thinking about it. For instance, rather than jump to something like--hey I can check texts while brushing my teeth--you might use something like machines can help make us healthy, and then point toward how a smart toothbrush might lead to better dental health. In fact, some toothbrushes already haver times; adding the ability to track and share the information might make sense.

So, you want to identify one or two core ideas, perhaps of different scopes. Then you can begin conducting research and drafting the proposal. For research, start with the library and their business guide, perhaps looking at industry and market research. You should also develop your own research questions, like closing is dental health linked to brushing time? and pursue research in related subject areas. Your aim is to find compelling information. Keep track of the sources that you find so you can reference them in the report. In the report, you only need to include a parenthetical reference with a last name and date for citations. No works cited is needed.

Once you have some research in hand, you can begin drafting the report. Follow this general format:

Background and Problem. Often proposals are shaped around a problem-solution framework. In this section you will outline a compelling need for the product. Your research will likely be woven in here as well. You might provide some history that sheds light on the need for the product. You might detail the dimensions of a problem relate to the product. You can provide context, laying out the landscape of similar situations that help make the case that you've identified an area that calls for innovative products.

Proposal. This is where you will outline the details of the product. It seems counter-intuitive, but focus here on being concise. You should be able to articulate your product in a sentence. You can then expand by linking up this concise pitch for the product with some of the ideas that you have identified. You can articulate reasons why the product is compelling, but don't go overboard in this section and make sure a reader can clearly identify what you are proposing.

Justification. Here you can expand on some of the reasons why the product is a good response to the situation you have set up in the beginning of the proposal. You might introduce more research here: information that might speak to the potential market for the product, details technical aspects, etc. You will also want to remember about the persuasive components of this proposal. You might argue for the merits or appeal of the ideas you have linked to the product. Convince readers that the product is a good innovation or solution to a problem.

Logistics and Conclusions. Here you can discuss the funding needs and detail the next steps. You might include a timeline or other milestones that help demonstrate the development process. You might discuss potential marketing plans. You can outline some of the financial aspects of the project as well. You can also return to some of the compelling ideas to wrap up the report with a solid take-away message and request for support.

You don't need to use these exact headings. In fact, they may not be the best possibilities, and variations are fine. But you should cover all of these aspects of the proposal. When you are finished, use the Add Content option on the Web site or use this link to upload your proposal as a document.

Type of Activity