Fulbright Grant Writing Tips & Tricks

Fulbright differs from many other grants because you’re allowed 1 page for a personal narrative and 2 pages—not 10—for your statement of grant purpose. At the heart, Fulbright is a cultural exchange grant, so keep that in mind as you frame your project. Thanks to Maria Esther (@lorientinuviel) for reaching out and inspiring me to think about this list. This post is specifically geared to those applying for the research grants. Here are my quick tips:

Statement of Grant Purpose (SGP):

  • Explain the project in layman’s terms, connect to current events if country if relevant. Do this first thing, first paragraph. It should be the first thing the evaluator reads.
  • Where are you researching and why? Why those cities, why those archives?
  • How does your project connect to the existing literature/field/etc? Explain briefly and make sure to link back to your overarching research goals.
    • I did not name drop major names or spend an extensive amount of time discussing the literature. Instead, I used the state of field as a way of discussing the nuance of my project and showing my knowledge of the subject.
  • Set up any connections to country you might have through previous research (have you done any pre-diss research on location that will aid with this project? If so, discuss it.).
  • Make sure you discuss your affiliation in the country. This is extremely important; you will not be successful without a (preferably strong) affiliation
  • Again, Fulbright is a cultural grant. Discuss how you will (might?) use your time in country to build deeper connections to the people there. This can include volunteering, presenting papers at conferences in-country or in the region (for example, at the regional Fulbright meeting), working as an affiliated researcher on a topic relevant to your own, etc. Make sure you connect those back to the purpose of your overall grant.

Personal Narrative (PN):

  • This is a space for you to introduce yourself to the particular country’s Fulbright commission or committee. Take advantage of this space!
  • Think of it this way: your story + your project = narrative
  • Why are you interested in the country?
  • Have personal connections to the country? Situate it & connect to your project if you can.
  • For example, in my personal narrative, I discussed my experiences navigating higher education as a first-generation student and how this coupled with my undergraduate classes, led to an interest in university student mobilization in Chile.
  • If you have space: any plans post-grant tenure related to grant? How grant might affect these plans?

For both:

  • Use clear, concise language
  • Proofread
  • Be yourself! Let your personality shine.
  • There was a colloquial turn of phrase I used in my PN. Some of the reviewers (pre-submission) loved it, some didn’t. Ultimately, it was my call to include it, and I did because I thought it made my PN a little more “real”.
  • Play up your connections to the country or interests in the country.
  • For both documents, I used TNR 12 pt font and 1″ margins
  • I did not include a bibliography as that must fit within the page limit parameters.
  • Use your community!
  • If your school has a fellowship/grant office, use them! Do your research to understand the awards which each office administers.
  • Join or start a grant-writing group with other graduate students.
  • Ask your advisor(s)/committee/close mentors read your application.

If you have any questions about applying for Fulbright not addressed in this post, please reach out. I’m available and happy to discuss. Happy writing!

Danielle B. Barefoot in front of the Fulbright Chile sign, at the Commission office in Santiago.

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