Engaged Research Seed Grant At-a-Glance

Funding maximum: $4,000
Deadline: October 4, 2023
Notification of Awards: November 1, 2023
Start date: December 1, 2023
Submission portal

Next cycle deadline: February 19, 2024

CHE Community-engaged learning initiative

Cornell Human Ecology (CHE) is partnering with the David M. Einhorn Center for Community Engagement to recognize, support, and advance community-engaged learning (CEL) throughout the college. This engaged college initiative reflects the next phase of OEI’s work to involve more Cornell undergraduates in CEL while also furthering community partners’ missions and advancing faculty members’ research. The new approach empowers each college to support the engaged learning opportunities that best fit the mission of their college.

CHE is offering grants to enhance existing and create new community-engaged learning opportunities for students. The goal of these funding opportunities is to reach as many interested faculty, staff, and students as possible and to make sustainable investments in opportunities that will continue beyond the funding of this block grant.

Grant Purpose:

Engaged Research Seed Grants are intended to support CHE faculty and academic staff’s scholarship and scientific research collaborations with both undergraduates and community partners.

Community-engaged research occurs in collaboration with a community partner who is involved throughout the research process. Some proposals may focus on incubating and accelerating the participation of community partners into scholarship and scientific research. Other proposals may involve existing community-engaged research collaborations but focus on developing or expanding opportunities for undergraduates to play a meaningful role.

Specifically, this funding is meant to introduce, improve, or increase the four community-engaged learning criteria in your research.

  • Need. Addresses a specific need, problem, or common concern of the partner.
  • Partner. Involves collaboration with community partner(s).
  • Connection. The project connects (and integrates) engaged research experiences with students’ disciplinary learning.
  • Reflection. Includes documented critical reflection for undergraduates involved in the research.

Supporting community-engaged faculty research in ways that are sustainable is a high priority, so we encourage applicants to consider how these funds can seed student involvement in projects over a prolonged period of time.

Are you wondering whether your project idea is a good fit? Contact the CEL Coordinator Kristen Elmore (kce28@cornell.edu), and we can talk about your project.

Who is eligible?:

Faculty of any rank, academic staff, and post-docs in Cornell Human Ecology. Applicants are welcome whether or not they have established community-engaged research or scholarship experience in their field of study.

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

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

Projects that have not previously received Engaged Research funding will receive priority.


Funding for grants will not exceed $4,000. 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.

Engaged Research Seed Grants have a 12-month term. At the end of the approved grant period, grant-holders may be eligible for a no cost extension or will return remaining funds to the CHE CEL initiative block grant.

Expectations and Deliverables

A final report will be due one month after the funding is completed. Required final reports will describe student participation, student evaluations of their experiences, community partner contributions to the student research experience, challenges encountered, as well as the benefit to the community partner and achievement of research and learning goals set by the applicants. As appropriate, grantees may be asked to contribute photographs or stories to support communication about engaged learning in the college.

Grantees will also be expected to participate in the CHE community-engaged teaching mentorship network and CHE Engaged Forum to share their experience with other faculty.


Allowable expenses

  • Student support*:
    • **travel, meals and 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). Information and policies for student employment and federal work-study.
  • Community partner support:
    • expenses incurred by community partners that are directly related to their participation in the research experience and that support community partner capacity to effectively partner in and maximize the benefit of community-engaged research.

* While this mechanism prioritizes the involvement of undergraduates, the inclusion of graduate students in a mentorship or supervisory role may be appropriate. Funding to support graduate student involvement will be considered with proper justification.

**Travel, meals, and visitors must be consistent with current Cornell COVID-19 Travel and Visitor Policy.

Unallowable Expenses

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

Selection Criteria

CHE’s CEL leadership and invited reviewers will review proposals using the following criteria, as appropriate:

  • Involvement of undergraduate students in the research, including strategy for inclusion and access to this opportunity
  • Contribution to Cornell’s goal of 100% undergraduate participation in high-quality community-engaged learning opportunities, which
    • Address a specific community interest, problem or public concern (Need)
    • Include working with and learning from a community partner (Partner)
    • Connect and integrate community-engaged experiences with educational content (Connection)
    • Include structured, documented critical reflection (Reflection)
  • Clear collaborative role of both community partner(s) and undergraduates in the research and compelling description of the intended benefits of the research to the community(ies) of interest
  • Prospect for sustaining the community-engaged learning beyond the life of the grant

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

  • Come from departments/programs that offer fewer opportunities for community-engaged learning
  • have not received prior funding

Instructions to apply

Proposals must be submitted using the online application form, and include the following information, within the space limits described on the form.

  1. Project title
  2. Name(s) of team member(s) and their unit(s)
  3. Community partner(s) information, if applicable. Letter of collaboration is strongly encouraged.
  4. Succinct summary, to be shared publicly, describing the project context, public purpose and what the project team will be doing
  5. Short narrative that describes the overarching goals of the community-engaged research project, including, as relevant:
    1. Need. Specific aims of the project, inclusive of community-identified need
    2. Partner. Clearly identified community partner(s), their role in the student research experience, and the benefit of the work to the partner(s)
    3. Connection. Role of the student(s) and anticipated student learning outcomes and how you plan to assess these
    4. Reflection. Description of how the project/initiative supports student preparation for and critical reflection on their community-engaged research experiences
  6. Discussion of opportunities to sustain research project beyond the grant period; include estimate of resources needed and plan for securing and sustaining those resources
  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
    1. Projects are encouraged to include funding to support community partner efforts