Statement of Problem
- Length: 750 to 1,000 words
- Format: Put your name and today’s date in the upper left-hand corner of the first page, single-spaced. Format in block paragraphs: no indenting, single-spaced, 1-inch margins, 12-point type, Times New Roman. To cite sources found in research and used in the statement, use MLA Style or APA Style for parenthetical citations and for a works cited page.
- Relevant assigned readings:
- "Step 3: Writing a Compelling Problem Statement" (WGSBS)
- "Lesson 7: Identifying and Documenting the Need: What Problem Will a Grant Fix?"(OGWB).
Before your proposal can be funded, you must first define clearly the problem that your proposal addresses. With your "Statement of Problem" you will describe "a critical condition, set of conditions, or a social need affecting certain people or things in a specific place at a specific time," to quote Writing Grants Step by Step (31).
It’s important to remember that you are not yet describing what you propose to do about the problem. Rather, you are setting out to accurately and persuasively describe the problem in a way that will make a funding organization believe that something needs to be done. Before funders will agree to accept your proposal, they must first accept as true your description of the problem. Furthermore, they must accept that this is an urgent problem, that it needs to be addressed now.
To document the existence and scope of the problem, find relevant supporting information from sources like the ones listed under "A few links for community / need / problem research" on the "Links" page of the course website: http://docs.upstateenglish.org/371/371-links.html
Your research, as much as possible, should focus on the community your organization serves, not just on problems as they exist in the United States.
As Writing Grants Step by Step advises (33-34), you should
- "Use statistics that are clear and that document the current unmet need or problem."
- "Use comparative statistics and research where possible" to put the problem in geographical or chronological context.
- "Use touching stories of people as examples," where possible and appropriate.
- Use MLA Style or APA Style to document all of your research, both in parenthetical citations and on your works cited page.
Samples of Problem Statements
Download and read these sample Problem Statements:
Evaluation criteria for Problem Statement
Adapted from chapter 3 of WGSBS
- Statement focuses squarely on the needs of the community the program will serve (and not, e.g., on the need for funding your program).
- Statement is supported by research (statistical facts, expert views, news reports, community members’ testimony, and so on).
- Statement uses comparative statistics and research, demonstrating that the problem in the community is particularly acute.
- Statement gives a clear sense of the urgency of the request, demonstrating why the funding is important at this particular time.
- Statement is clearly written, easily digestible, avoids using jargon, and does not make the reader have to work to understand the point.
- Writing is mechanically and grammatically correct, free from significant errors that detract from meaning.
- Research is cited correctly according to MLA Style or APA Style, both in the text of the statement and on the works cited page.