I co-wrote a proposal with two faculty members who mentored me during my PhD. Since I am now a non-tenure track Assistant Professor at a different institution than the other two, I was to be given a sub-award as a co-PI. I had spent several months (along with the others) on writing the proposal. Recently, the PI told me that the program manager contacted him and apparently mentioned that the sub-award needs to be dropped, and my name would not be there in the proposal. I am disheartened that I will not be recognized for my contributions, especially since I will be joining a tenure-track position next Fall. I understand that these faculties are senior, and the program manager trusts their abilities more than mine. However, I put in that much effort because I thought I would be a co-PI. What should I do?
Here is a link to the NSF faq
[Faculty Level or Equivalent] Section IV, “Eligibility Information,” states under “PI Limit” that “Principal Investigators (PI) must be at the faculty level or equivalent.” How is “faculty level or equivalent” for the Principal Investigators defined? Principal Investigators (PI and co-PIs) must have a tenured, tenure-track, or non-tenure track faculty position and their institution allows them to serve as PI or co-PI. Postdoctoral researchers are not allowed to serve as PI or co-PI but they may serve as other personnel.
You can be affiliated personnel and that is what makes sense. It's disappointing but you should discuss with the PI how they will address this in a letter of reference for you.
If you believe that the others are taking your original work and ideas and passing them off as their own, the first thing to do is to communicate to them clearly about it. You need to prepare to tell them what you want (eg what must be excised), with the understanding that if they are being told by the funder to cut your part, it can't go back in, so that's an unreasonable expectation.
However, if this sub project that is being eliminated is the only place that you made a substantial intellectual contribution, and the only place that contained your original ideas, well, this happens sometimes. It happens when the project stops making logical sense with an extra appendage, and it happens when, I suppose, the grant admin says they should not apply with it there. They really may mean no offence in this case.
One way to move forward would be to ask your collaborators if they would be willing to help seek alternative funding for your subproject. This works better in some fields and not others
"I put in that much effort because I thought I would be a co-PI"
If the proposal was submitted to an internal opening/funding opportunity, it makes sense to expect that, as long as you were at the local institution (please read the caveats here below), but since you moved to a different one that would not be any more valid.
On the other hand, you are not a co-PI simply because you helped writing the proposal, it is a dangerous way of thinking. PIs (and co-PI as well as co-co-PIs) will be the persons active during the projects, but it is not guaranteed that there will be a one-to-one match between the ones carrying the main burden of writing the proposal and the ones carrying out the project, unless the persons are specifically and explicitly defined in the proposals itself (yeah, oral agreements with senior faculty are valid ... until the time you get burned).
Additionally, writing proposals (let's call it in the corporate terms "acquisition", as acquisition of new clien... ehm fundings :D ) is something that is more and more expected as regular duties from researchers (PostDocs and above) (of course, the time spent is not explicitly accounted in the working contracts), so although in your ethics your work should have been recognized, in the current state of affairs no one cares about how much time is spent (helping) writing proposals. It is simply expected, but not quantified.