What is needed to sponsor / to be sponsored for an initial FCL or upgrade. (what comes first, the FCL or the contract)

The first item you need is a DD254 (contract) issued by a Prime Contractor or Government Customer. If you have a DD254 issued by the Prime Contractor, they must have the Government Customers concurrence to sponsor your facility clearance. The DD254 and the Sponsorship Request shall be initially submitted by the sponsoring organization via NISS.