Unfunded Proposals

Many Environmental Workforce Development and Job Training (JT) proposals are not funded the first year they are submitted. A few evaluation points may make the difference between a funded and unfunded proposal. When a proposal is not funded, the following issues should be considered. These considerations may help determine if an expanded proposal should be resubmitted in the next round of funding.

  • Is the JT program something the community really needs?
  • Is the JT program something the potential stakeholders really want?
  • Is the JT program something partners are willing to support?
  • Are resources available to continue pursuing an JT program?
  • Are opportunities for sustainability and leveraged resources available on a long-term basis?
  • Do organizers and supporters have the desire to continue working on a new, expanded proposal?

If the answer to these questions is yes, then it is time to begin preparing for the next Request for Proposals (RFP). By the time new awards are announced, the new funding cycle is only months away. Often proposals are rejected the first time, then funded after expanding and improving the program plan.

If an organization is resubmitting, do not assume the same or similar application will be accepted. Some EPA grant reviewers keep old proposals for reference. Partnerships, supporters, and assessments must be current. The depth of the program often needs to be expanded with more detail given to requested information. It takes several months to assemble, coordinate, and institute expanded and perhaps new working partnerships and support teams.


First and most important, contact the EPA regional coordinator in the region of the location of the job training program to request a debriefing session and see the reviewer notes. During the session, the regional coordinator will identify weakness in the proposal. Seek suggestions for proposal improvement. Often, not answering or not providing a sufficient response to a single request for information may have resulted in an unfunded proposal. Regional coordinators may also be able to provide additional suggestions in terms of partners and resources to consider when expanding the scope of the proposal.


  • Express your intentions to EPA and local stakeholders to resubmit a new proposal.
  • Stay involved with local community and governmental organizations.
  • Attend public hearings—especially Brownfields-related meetings.
  • Learn about new potential leveraging partners.
  • Get close to local employers.
  • Attend Brownfields conferences (state, regional, and national).
  • Join the HMTRI Professional Learning Community (PLC) for hints and ideas. PLC is a bi-weekly telephone conference held on Wednesdays at 2:00 p.m. ET to discuss all topics related to environmental job training.

Over the years, JT grantees have expressed the value of peer-to-peer mentoring and sharing ideas with other programs. Take advantage of consulting with existing grantees. Improving an existing JT program or developing a new proposal can be facilitated by observing some of EPA’s successful grantees. The best way to accomplish this is to participate in HMTRI’s Annual Environmental Job Development All-Grantee Meeting. As a PLC member, organizations can attend this invitation-only meeting allowing them to network with current and past grantees including EPA headquarters and regional staff.

Additionally, the International City/County Management Association and EPA sponsor the National Brownfields Training Conference that provides an excellent chance to connect with peers, employers, and potential partners. Statewide Brownfields conferences provide similar opportunities on a smaller scale.

Outstanding JT proposals cannot be written by a single grant writer in a short timeframe without preparation networking, team building, community outreach, and assessment. The best tip for writing a fundable proposal is team building and pre-proposal preparation as early as possible.