Faculty & Staff Funding

Engaged Opportunity Grants

Bring a wide range of community-engaged learning initiatives to life

Cornell faculty and staff are always thinking of ways to create, enhance or sustain community-engaged learning opportunities for undergraduates, but they might not have the funds to support their ideas. Engaged Opportunity Grants are designed to help by supporting large and small projects from across the university.

Read about previously funded projects to see the range of possibilities.

These grants are intended to support off-campus community-engaged activities, including:

Engaged leadership student programming:

  • projects where students can integrate their leadership education and community engagement through critical reflection
  • collaborations with diverse partners (e.g., communities, alumni and other university stakeholders) that build student leadership capacity through community engagement

Other opportunities:

  • production and dissemination of “public products” in support of and/or celebrating community-engaged learning; including, but not limited to, community-engaged presentation at conferences/workshops, publications (print and electronic), tools, podcasts, videos, exhibits and datasets, and professional development/training to support production
  • focused program evaluation of a community-engagement project
  • co-sponsorship and documentation of community-engaged events
  • informal seminars, networking or collaboration development activities (e.g., thematic luncheon conversations, symposia, workshops, pilot collaborations, speakers, communications infrastructure) related to community engagement

Do you have an idea not listed here? Contact the Office of Engagement Initiatives (OEI) and we can talk about your project.

Engaged Opportunity Grants are not intended for:

projects that serve one individual undergraduate

For that, see Certificate in Engaged Leadership and Community-Engaged Student Travel Grants


Faculty of any rank, staff, post-docs and medical fellows from Cornell academic or non-academic units.

Temporary staff and students can be team members but cannot serve as team leads. Participation of community partners and alumni is encouraged.

Cornell affiliate organizations should consult the Office of Engagement Initiatives to determine eligibility.

Projects that have already received an Engaged Opportunity Grant may not apply again.


Funding for grants will not exceed $5,000. All budget lines must be justified. Applicants should make their case for the use of funds most appropriate to their need. Please note that grantees might not receive their full budget request and that conference attendees will be limited to $500 of funding per traveler.

Opportunity Grants have an 18-month term and are not renewable. At the end of the approved grant period, grantholders will return remaining funds to the Office of Engagement Initiatives.

Opportunity Grants are not retroactive and can only support programs or travel that takes place after posted notification dates.

Application Submission and Notification

There are three deadlines per year. Prospective applicants are encouraged to consult the Office of Engagement Initiatives at any time during the application process.

Winter 2019 Spring 2020 Summer 2020
Applications open
Aug. 20, 2019 Oct. 1, 2019 Feb. 13, 2020
Application deadline Sept. 26, 2019 Feb. 11, 2020 Apr. 30, 2020
Notification of awards Mid Oct. 2019 Early Mar. 2020 Early May 2020
Start date Late Oct. 2019 Mid Mar. 2020 Mid May 2020

Expectations and Deliverables

Grantees are required to submit a brief end-of-project report using a template provided. As appropriate, feedback from community partners may be sought as part of this reporting process.

If applicable, grantees will provide documentation and evaluation of student learning outcomes. Grantees may use an assessment tool of their own devising or one of those provided by the Office of Engagement Initiatives.

If applicable, grantees will also 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.

Additional follow-up may be requested depending on the nature of the funding request.


Allowable Expenses

  • Faculty and/or staff support:
    • Travel, meals and lodging associated community engagement conducted off campus
    • Project planning, development, assessment and dissemination
    • Reservation of space
    • Materials that support the project
  • Student support*:
    • Travel, meals and lodging associated with community engagement conducted off campus
    • Direct costs incurred by students involved in the project (e.g., conference registration)
    • Costs of publication
    • Systems that support the student work experience (graphics, software, enrollment in online training, etc.)
    • Wages for students (work study, other). Information about Cornell student employment and federal work-study is available at studentemployment.cornell.edu/policies
  • Partner support:
    • Funds that support the participation of the off-campus community in the experience and/or documentation, including expenses necessary to build capacity for partner participation
    • Honoraria for outside speakers and/or consultants to complement project planning and student learning
    • Speaker travel costs

* 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 and indirect costs (IDC);
  • tuition;
  • capital projects;
  • faculty or staff salaries;
  • post-graduation wages or travel costs for students.

Selection Criteria

Office of Engagement Initiatives staff and leadership will review proposals, with selections being made by applying the following criteria, as appropriate:

  • Involvement of undergraduate students
  • Contribution to Cornell’s goal of 100% undergraduate participation in high-quality community-engaged learning opportunities, which
    • Address a specific need, problem, or common concern (e.g., public concern)
    • Include collaboration with a community partner
    • Are connected with course content and disciplinary perspectives (for curricular opportunities)
    • Are integrated with educational content that the activity is addressing (for co-curricular opportunities)
    • Include structured, documented reflection
  • Evidence of community-identified and/or project need
  • Feasibility of addressing specified need in partnership with the community/partner
  • Clear indication of community-engaged student learning and leadership opportunity
  • Prospect for sustaining the community-engaged learning beyond the life of the grant

Given the competitive funding environment, special priority is given to projects that:

  • Come from departments/programs that offer fewer opportunities for community-engaged learning


Proposals must be submitted using the online application form, and include the following information, within the space limits described on the form. Forms will differ slightly from the text below, depending on the nature of the funding request.

  1. Project title
  2. Name(s) of team member(s) and their unit(s)
  3. Signature endorsements from chair or supervisor
  4. Community partner(s) information, if applicable. Letter of collaboration is required.
  5. Succinct summary, to be shared publicly, describing the project context, public purpose and what the project team will be doing
  6. Short narrative that describes the overarching goals of the community-engaged activity, what you plan to do, how you plan to do it and potential next steps and/or outcomes. As is relevant to the request, include:
    • Description of the project, inclusive of community identified and/or project need
    • Clearly identified community partner(s), their role and the benefit of the work to the partner(s)
    • Role of the student(s) and anticipated student learning outcomes and how you plan to assess these
    • How the project/initiative directly supports undergraduate community-engaged learning at Cornell, or creates the supportive environment for this learning to take place in the near future
    • Description of how the presentation advances the presenter’s discipline; promotes positive civic/social impact; and/or contributes to the field of community-engaged learning
    • Opportunities to sustain project beyond the grant period
  7. Additional project information (e.g., course prerequisites, project completion date, conference abstract), as appropriate
  8. Estimated number and type of Cornell students (undergraduate, graduate, professional) targeted by the proposal
  9. Budget and budget justification aligned directly with the budget categories in the online application form

Previous Recipients

Questions about your project?

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

Email: engagedcornell@cornell.edu

Phone: (607) 255-6006

Other Faculty & Staff Funding