I previously mentioned that I would eventually get to proposals, and here we are. Scientists that don't work for a company that directs their research have to write proposals describing what they want to do. These are submitted to federal funding agencies (like NASA, National Science Foundation (NSF), National Institutes of Health, etc), private foundations, internal university funds, and other sources of funds. There is typically a solicitation describing what kind of projects the agency is looking for. The proposals are reviewed by scientists that are experts in the related field for federal agencies or the board of a foundation (sometimes with input from related experts).
I recently started working on two proposals. One is for funds supported by the university's ADVANCE grant to support women faculty in science fields, and the other is a big one to NSF to increase majors in science fields. The first one will be a rewrite of a proposal I wrote earlier this year but was not selected for funding (some say you have to write 3 proposals for every 1 you need to get funded, and that could get worse in today's federal budget climate). The budget available is about half as much, so I'll have to cut something out, probably the funding for 1/2 a grad student. The second one will involve work with a bunch of other people at the university, so I'm currently in the process of making lots of contacts. I'm also doing a literature search to get the necessary data on best practices in increasing science majors.
I'll try to keep you posted as the process goes along.