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  Cornell University

Request for Proposals (RFP) 2017

The 2017 application deadline has passed. Grant award notifications will be sent February 27, 2017.

Download a PDF of this page here (right mouseclick link and choose “save as” to save to your computer).

Engaged Graduate Student Grants were explained at a recent information session. Watch below or on CornellCast.


To enable Ph.D. students to initiate or build research or scholarship that is community engaged, or to develop strategies for incorporating community engagement into existing research and scholarship.

In addition, proposals are welcomed that would develop or execute strategies for “Broader Impacts of the Proposed Work” of an NSF grant, a public engagement component of an NIH grant, or work in the public humanities.

Engaged Graduate Student Grants are intended to support:

  • research and scholarship with relevance to the doctoral dissertation;
  • additional training or supportive learning experiences that are relevant to community-engaged research or scholarship.

Engaged Graduate Student Grants are not intended to support:

  • course development;
  • support for undergraduate research;
  • supplement to exceed basic nine-month graduate stipend;
  • new research initiatives for faculty members.

Learn more about the Engaged Graduate Student Grants at upcoming information sessions.


Individual Cornell Ph.D. students in any graduate field are eligible to apply. Collaborating Ph.D. students will need to submit separate applications that use the proposal narrative to highlight this partnership.

Applicants must have registered their special committee chair with the Graduate School.

Successful proposals will have direct oversight by the special committee chair or be endorsed by the chair with an alternate committee member identified as partner with the student, as is appropriate to the discipline.


Awards will be up to $15,000.

Grant awards have a one-year duration and are not renewable. Funds will be transferred to a dedicated account assigned to the special committee chair.

The need for funding varies across fields of study and variation in budget requests is anticipated. Applicants should make their case for the use of funds most appropriate to their need.

Grant awards are intended to provide additional resources to advance dissertation-related research and scholarship, or may be used to support additional training or supportive learning experiences that are relevant to community-engaged research or scholarship. Awards are not intended to replace graduate students’ primary funding.


Prospective applicants are encouraged to consult with the Office of Engagement Initiatives at any time and should use this contact form. Learn more about Engaged Graduate Student Grants at information sessions.


Community-engaged research is founded on collaborative and reciprocally beneficial relationships between researchers and partners/communities (see Definitions). The Office of Engagement Initiatives embraces a broad definition of community and all disciplines are included.

Successful proposals will present an understanding of the intersection of community engagement with knowledge creation that is particular to the applicants’ field(s) of study. Community-engaged research and scholarship is work that is developed in partnership with a community and that addresses a need or interest of the community (i.e., research/scholarship that is with, about, and for communities).

Applicants must provide summary information about the partner and describe the role of the community partner in the project and the benefit of the work to the partner. Effective partnership requires sustained effort towards building relationships, and the applicant should describe the history or current position on the continuum of that process. A letter of support from the community partner is required, describing the role that the community partner expects to play in the collaboration and how they will interact with the student.

Strong proposals will include a description of educational opportunities for students that prepare them for community-based research, or that supplement their research experience, such as instruction in IRB processes, responsible conduct, relevant research methods, collaborative practices and ethics, (co)publication, data ownership and management, or sharing products of the work.


  1. Students and special committee chairs will join a university-wide cohort of grantees and will participate in at least one discussion among the awardee cohort, per semester. These meetings will be convened and facilitated by the Office of Engagement Initiatives and will provide an opportunity to share learning and experiences, identify foundational knowledge that would be useful to others pursuing community-engaged graduate work, identify challenges to graduate study involving community engagement, and other matters of interest. Students are encouraged to share experiences and learning with cohort peers throughout the grant period, according to their interests and needs.
  2. Students will seek and secure opportunities to publish and present findings at conferences.
  3. The cohort of grant recipients will prepare a collaborative, end-of-year presentation to the Office of Engagement Initiatives and interested faculty, staff, and students.
  4. A final report will be due within one month of the termination of the grant.


A detailed budget and narrative justification must be submitted with the Engaged Graduate Student Grant application.

Applicants should make their case for the use of funds most appropriate to their need.

Allowable Expenses

Potential uses of grant funds include:

  • partial or summer stipend and tuition for the graduate student;
  • support for the student’s project;
  • support for presentation or publication of findings; and/or
  • to support participation of the community partner(s).

Unallowable Expenses

  • overhead or indirect costs (IDC)
  • salary for faculty
  • external consultant fees
  • speaker or speaker series travel, fees, honoraria
  • capital projects
  • equipment
  • supplement to exceed basic nine-month graduate stipend

No-cost Extensions

Grant holders will have the opportunity to apply for a one-year no-cost extension with justification.


Proposals will be evaluated by a committee comprised of members of the graduate faculty and members of the Public Engagement Council. Applications will be evaluated according to the following criteria:

  • qualifications and potential of the graduate student for success in Ph.D.-level scholarship and research;
  • likelihood that the project will contribute substantially to the academic and career trajectory of the applicant;
  • clear collaborative role of community partner(s) in the research and description of the intended benefits of the research to the community(ies) of interest;
  • merit and soundness of the project plan, including aims, timeline, and work proposed;
  • strength of supplementary programming, trainings, coursework, and plan for student to publish and/or present their work;
  • quality of letters of reference.


Note: The 2017 application deadline has passed.

Proposals must be submitted via online forms and include the following information, within the space limits described on the form:

  1. Project title
  2. Names of applicant and special committee chair
  3. Names of graduate field, department, and college of applicant and special committee chair
  4. Narrative bios, biosketches, or CVs of applicant and special committee chair (two-page maximum per person)
  5. Letters of support from the special committee chair and one referee that address the student’s potential for success in their field of study as well as the potential impact and significance of the work proposed in the application. To maintain confidentiality, letters must be submitted by special committee chairs and referees directly to with the name of the applying student in the subject line. Submission deadlines will be enforced, so students are encouraged to give ample notification to their faculty mentors.
  6. Signature acknowledgement from the director of graduate studies (DGS)
  7. Community partner(s) information
  8. Letter(s) of collaboration from the community partner(s), including a résumé or LinkedIn profile of the key contact and description of the role that the partner expects to play in the collaboration and how they will interact with the student
  9. Abstract/summary: executive summary of the proposal that describes its rationale, key features, goals, and intended benefits to research/scholarship of the student and community partner(s)
  10. Narrative that includes description of:
  • objectives, project, and timeline
  • benefits to community partner(s)
  • the relationship of work to thesis research
  • supplementary programming, trainings, coursework, and plan for student to publish and/or present their work
  1. Budget that outlines the student and community support costs (not to exceed $15,000 overall)
  2. Budget justification that is aligned directly with budget categories
  3. Statement regarding any other current or pending grant applications, or funding sources that support student’s a) dissertation travel, b) research funding, and/or c) stipend