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  Cornell University

Request for Proposals (RFP) 2016

NOTE: The deadline for 2016 proposals has passed. Read the Cornell Chronicle article about the grant recipients.

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[Download a PDF of this RFP.]


To expand and support undergraduate student learning through community-engaged research.

Undergraduate Engaged Research Programs are intended to support:

  • established community-engaged scholars, researchers, and research programs that provide opportunities for undergraduate students to conduct research;
  • investigators/scholars that can provide a strong collaborative environment for students and opportunities for them to work in teams;
  • opportunities that are structured to include additional training or supportive learning experiences that are relevant to the research or scholarship;
  • research and scholarship environments that are highly likely to be sustained beyond the period of the funding;
  • opportunities that promote access for all Cornell undergraduates.

Undergraduate Engaged Research Programs are not intended to support:

  • individual investigators/scholars working with individual students;
  • course development (See “Engaged Curriculum Grants” for that opportunity.);
  • support for graduate students (See “Engaged Graduate Student Grants” for that opportunity.);
  • new research initiatives (Investigators/scholars interested in beginning community-engaged research and scholarship are encouraged to pursue “Engaged Cornell Fellowships,” forthcoming.);
  • community partnership development and collaboration (Opportunities for “Partnership Convenings” are in their pilot phase; more information will be available in 2016.);
  • activities that will be unsustainable beyond the period of the funding.


Proposals may be submitted by active researchers (faculty or academic staff) with established community-engaged research or scholarship in any field of study.

Researchers and scholars appointed in centers, institutes, programs, extension divisions, museums, and laboratories of Cornell University may participate, or lead, provided that necessary academic oversight of students is incorporated into the plan.

Applications that involve multiple researchers/scholars, junior faculty participants, and/or collaboration across units are strongly encouraged.


As a general guideline, Undergraduate Engaged Research Programs aim to support approximately 125 students in Year 1 (2015–16) of Engaged Cornell and 300 students annually by Year 10 (2025–26).

It is expected that the funding needed to support student research or scholarship varies dramatically across disciplines. All applications require a strong rationale and justification for the budget requested.

Grants will not exceed $25,000 per program for one year, with opportunity for renewal for one additional year based on documentation of progress. Maximum $40,000 in total funding over two years.

Application Process and Timeline

Prospective applicants are encouraged to consult Engaged Cornell at any time during the application process, outlined below.

Chart showing timeline

Proposal Guidelines

Community-engaged research is founded on collaborative and reciprocally beneficial relationships between researchers and partners/communities (see Definitions). 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.

Proposals should describe the overarching goals of the research and the research process experienced by the students (i.e., what they will do), together with the desired undergraduate learning outcomes (specific to the major or discipline), and how they will be achieved. In addition, inclusion of one or more of the following learning outcomes is expected:

  • civic engagement
  • intercultural competence
  • integrative learning
  • critical reflection
  • ethical practice

Expectations and Deliverables

  1. Faculty participants will join two discussion sessions per semester (one with research staff only and one with undergraduate researchers) to share their work, experience, and practices, and discuss approaches to overcoming challenges.
  2. Annual progress reports are required to incorporate narrative descriptions of student participation, student evaluations of their experiences, contributions of the community partner to the student research experience, as well as the benefit to the community partner and achievement of research and learning goals set by the applicants. Reports will summarize scholarly publications, grants, or reports that incorporate student contributions (including links or electronic copies when applicable) and will summarize presentations made by students supported by the program. Financial reporting will also be required as part of the annual progress report.
  3. List of project-related briefings, newsletters, or press interviews related to the program in which faculty, staff, or students have participated.


Allowable Expenses

  • Student support:
    • travel, meals, lodging associated with research conducted off campus;
    • direct costs incurred by students while conducting research;
    • participation in conferences, workshops;
    • costs of publication;
    • systems that support the student research experience (software, enrollment in online training, etc.);
    • wages for students (work study, other).
  • Staff support:
    • functions that are essential to the operation and execution of the proposed student research opportunities;
    • staff must be existing and not newly hired for this purpose.
  • Community partner support:
    • expenses incurred by community partners that are directly related to their participation in the student research experience.

Information about Cornell student employment is available online at:

Unallowable Expenses

  • overhead and indirect costs (IDC);
  • tuition;
  • salary for team members (named on application);
  • salary for consultants;
  • capital projects;
  • equipment.

No-cost Extensions

Grant holders will have the opportunity to apply for a one-year extension with justification.

Review Process and Selection Criteria

Proposals will be peer-reviewed. Applications will be evaluated according to the following criteria:

  1. Strength of the research/scholarship environment(s) in which students will work, including the existing research/scholarship program and the planned student-focused activity(ies)
  2. 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
  3. Strategy for assessing learning outcomes for students and impacts for community members
  4. Number of students and proportion of eligible students expected to participate in the research, including strategy for inclusion and access to this opportunity for students
  5. Strength of supplementary programming, trainings, coursework, and opportunities for students to publish and/or present findings/scholarship
  6. Plan for sustaining the community-engagement opportunity for students beyond any single cohort of students and beyond the period of the funding support


Proposals must be submitted via online forms, and include the following information, within the space limits described on the form (Download a PDF preview of the form, which includes character limits.):

  • Names of department(s) and college(s) involved
  • Names of team members and their department(s) and college(s)
  • Narrative bios or CVs of investigators/scholars comprising the team
  • Signature endorsements from dean of the lead scholar/investigator
  • Identity of community partner
  • Letter of collaboration from the community partner(s) describing the role that the partner expects to play in the collaboration and how they will interact with students
  • Abstract/summary: executive summary of the proposal that describes its rationale, key features, goals, and intended benefits to students, faculty research/scholarship, and community partner(s)
  • Narrative that includes:
    • rationale for the configuration of the team, including roles of members;
    • target student population (class year(s), majors) and number of students anticipated for inclusion in the proposed program;
    • the research program’s aims, community partnership, the role the partner(s) play(s) in the research, the proposed role community partners will play in the student research experience, and the expected benefit to that community and/or community partner;
    • description of the student research experience and desired learning outcomes and level of achievement;
    • description of the vehicle for student research (i.e., for credit, work study, honors thesis, other), how access for all students will be promoted, and when the opportunity be available (e.g., during the academic year, summer, or winter sessions, throughout the year, other);
    • description of programs, trainings, workshops, or courses that prepare students for community-engaged research as well as practices that sustain their reflective process during the experience;
    • expectations for students to present or publish findings/scholarship;
    • plans for sustaining the community-engagement opportunity for students beyond any single cohort of students and beyond the period of the funding support;
    • the long-term goals for providing training experiences for future students.
  • Budget and budget justification aligned directly with the budget categories listed in the online forms

On this page

[Download a PDF of this RFP.]