Engaged Graduate Student Grants

Build research or scholarship that engages with communities


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 any of the following:

Research and scholarship with direct 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

Undergraduate research

Supplement that exceeds basic nine-month graduate stipend

New research initiatives for faculty members

Research that is not central to the dissertation


Individual Cornell Ph.D. students in any graduate field are eligible to apply.

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.

Collaborating Ph.D. students need to submit separate applications that use the proposal narrative to highlight the partnership.

Funding and Benefits

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.

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.

Students, special committee chairs and community partners will be invited to participate in events hosted by the Office of Engagement Initiatives throughout the year. Student grantees will have access to cutting-edge scholarship on community engagement, and can share their work in seminars and networking opportunities.

Expectations and Deliverables

  1. Students will seek and secure opportunities to publish and present findings at conferences.
  2. A final report on this template will be due within two months of the termination of the grant. Feedback from community partners will be sought as part of this reporting process.
  3. Grantees will provide documentation and evaluation of the partnership, including community partner voice and feedback. Grantees may use a Partnership Assessment Tool of their own devising or one of those provided by the Office of Engagement Initiatives.


The application is currently closed. For updates on the application process, check back here periodically or subscribe to our email update.


Proposals must be submitted through this form 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 or CVs of applicant and special committee chair
  5. Letter of support from one referee that addresses the student’s potential for success in their field of study as well as the potential impact and significance of the community-engaged research proposed in the application. To maintain confidentiality, letters must be submitted by the referee directly to engagedcornell@cornell.edu with the name of the applying student in the subject line. Submission deadlines will be enforced, so students should give ample notification to their referee.
  6. Signature acknowledgement from the special committee chair and director of graduate studies (DGS)
  7. Community partner(s) information
    • Letter(s) of collaboration from the community partner(s), including a résumé or LinkedIn profile of the key contact, description of the role that the partner expects to play in the collaboration and how they will interact with the student.
    • If the original letter of collaboration is in a language other than English, please provide a translation.
  8. Succinct summary, to be shared publicly, describing the project context, public purpose and what the project team will be doing.
  9. Abstract: executive summary of the project that describes its rationale, key features, goals and intended benefits to research/scholarship of the student and community partner(s)
  10. Narrative that includes:
    • objectives, project and timeline;
    • benefits to community partner(s) and/or the beneficiaries of the project;
    • the relationship of work to thesis research;
    • supplementary programming, trainings or coursework that prepare the student for community-based research (e.g., 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);
    • plan for student to publish and/or present community-engaged research.
  11. Budget that outlines the student and community support costs (not to exceed $15,000 overall)
  12. Budget justification that is aligned directly with budget categories
  13. Statement regarding any other current or pending grant applications, or funding sources that support the student’s a) dissertation travel, b) research funding and/or c) stipend


A detailed budget and narrative justification must be submitted with the 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;
  • student insurance;
  • support for the student’s project;
  • support for presentation or publication of findings; and/or
  • to support participation of the community partner(s).

* Projects proposing student travel to a country determined to be an “elevated risk destination” by the International Travel Advisory and Response Team (ITART) must obtain ITART pre-travel approval per Policy 8.5. Contact intlsafety@cornell.edu.

Unallowable Expenses
  • overhead or indirect costs (IDC);
  • salary for faculty;
  • external consultant fees;
  • post-graduation travel costs for students;
  • speaker or speaker series travel, fees, honoraria;
  • capital projects;
  • equipment (refer to Appendix B in the University’s Capital Assets policy);
  • supplement that exceeds 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.

Selection Criteria

Proposals will be evaluated by a committee comprised of members of the graduate faculty and staff from the Office of Engagement Initiatives. 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;
  • clear understanding of the intersection of community engagement with knowledge creation that is particular to the applicant’s field(s) of study;
  • 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.

Previous Recipients

Questions about your project?

Contact the Office of Engagement Initiatives. We’re here to help.

Email: engagedcornell@cornell.edu

Phone: (607) 254-4240