Faculty & Staff Funding

Engaged Opportunity Grants

Bring a wide range of community-engaged initiatives to life

Cornell faculty and staff are always thinking of ways to create, enhance or participate in community-engaged initiatives, but they might not have the funds to get their ideas off the ground or meet the needs of an existing partnership. 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 engagement; including, but not limited to, 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:

individual support for undergraduate community engagement

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

community engaged presentation at conferences or workshops

For that, see Community Engagement Presentation Fund


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 can receive only one Engaged Opportunity Grant per 12-month period.


Funding for grants will not exceed $5,000, and grants for conference travel will not exceed $1,500 per person. All budget lines must be justified. Applicants should make their case for the use of funds most appropriate to their need.

Opportunity Grants have a one-year 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 four 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
Applications open
Aug. 20, 2019 Oct. 1, 2019
Application deadline Sept. 26, 2019 Feb. 11, 2020
Notification of awards Mid Oct. 2019 Early Mar. 2020
Start date Late Oct. 2019 Mid Mar. 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 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 service 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 service conducted off campus
    • Direct costs incurred by students involved in the project
    • 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:

  1. Engaged leadership student programming:
    • 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 partnership beyond the life of the grant (inclusive of student participation in the Certificate in Engaged Leadership), as appropriate.
  2. Other opportunities:
    • Evidence of community-identified and/or project need
    • Feasibility of addressing specified need in partnership with the community/partner
    • Relevance for advancing disciplinary knowledge, higher education and/or the field of community engagement
    • Benefit to scholarship, curriculum, pedagogy and/or student learning
    • Prospect for sustaining the partnership beyond the life of the grant, if appropriate
    • Display of innovation, creativity and/or novelty


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 strongly recommended.
  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
    • Assessment plan
    • Opportunities to sustain project beyond the grant period
  7. Additional project information (e.g., anticipated number of student participants, prerequisites and project completion date), as appropriate
  8. 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) 254-4240