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2019 Community Engaged Research Seed Program



The University of Tennessee’s Office of Research and Engagement (ORE) is soliciting proposals for the Community-Engaged Research Seed Program. This grant program offers internal funds intended to initiate and grow community-engaged research projects for University of Tennessee, Knoxville (UT) and UT Space Institute (UTSI) faculty.

The goals of the program are to further UT’s engagement with the local, regional, state, or global community; stimulate new collaborations; and build a foundation for more stable and sustainable research funding. Key considerations include the likelihood that the community relationship can be sustained, which will often require new external funding.

ORE seeks to support projects to encourage faculty members to identify and seek new funding targets. PIs will be expected to apply for external funding and begin to generate manuscripts for publication no later than four months after the seed project ends. Both single Principal Investigators (PI’s) and/or multiple investigators (multi-PI) are encouraged to apply.


Proposals are invited from all UT Knoxville and UT Space Institute faculty.

The Principal Investigators (PIs) must:

  • Be UT/UTSI faculty, including tenured, tenure-track, and non-tenure-trackresearch scientists
  • Have department and college approval to apply for internal funding, as evidenced by willingness to cost share documented in an email or letter. (Non-tenure-track researchers must provide documentation from their department head indicating a long-term commitment to the PI and the PI’s ability to execute a future externally funded project at UT/UTSI that could extend beyond 2022.)
  • Be eligible to apply for external funding
  • Identify at least one funding mechanism from which they have not received funding
  • NOTE: Previous Research Seed grant awardees from any category who were lead PIs are ineligible to apply as lead PI for a new Community Engaged Research grant.

Both single- and multiple-investigator projects are allowed, and external collaborations are encouraged. A faculty member may participate in multiple seed proposals but should serve as lead Principal Investigator (PI) on no more than one application to the Interdisciplinary category and no more than one application to the Mission, Biomedical Research, or Community-Engaged Research categories. Previous NIH applications or awards or other agencies are not required. An awardee may apply for additional seed awards after they have submitted a research grant application corresponding to their first seed award.

Budget and Project Duration

Award Amounts: One-year project: maximum total budget of $15,000 (must include a combined 20% cost share from the College/Department – $12,000 ORE + $3,000 cost share). Applicants may submit proposals requesting less than the maximum budget.

Use of Funds:Funds may be used for any activity directly related to the conduct of the research: salaries and benefits for students, postdocs, or research scientists, some travel, research supplies, equipment/facility recharge, etc. Travel to community partners, corporate and foundation funding sources, and federal agencies are likely an important element for success; it is expected and should be included in the submitted budget.  Funds will be available soon after awards are announced and will be provided to awardees on a cost-reimbursable basis.

Funds may  not  be used for faculty summer salaries, course buyouts, administrative staff, seminar speakers, consultants, or conferences. Reimbursement requests may be submitted to ORE throughout the award period. All funds must be expended by the end of the project period unless an extension is approved by the AVCRD and the contributing College/Department.


The internal proposal submittal deadline is  November 28, 2018 at Noon (12 p.m.).  Awards will be announced March 1, 2019, and projects will have a start date of May 1, 2019.

Application Instructions

Online submission will include completion of the online application form below, as well as submitting the following documents:Research Plan, Quad Chart, Sustainability Plan, Budget, CVs, Current and Pending Support, Letter(s) of Commitment, and Cost Share letters. Please note that the Research Plan outline is based upon the questions presented in the Heilmeier Catechism.

Instructions for Submittal: In addition to the online application form, combine these documents into one PDF in this order: Community-Engaged Research Plan, Quad Chart, Sustainability Plan, Budget, CVs, Current and Pending Support, Letter(s) of Commitment, and Cost Share letters.Finally, submit a copy of the Quad Chart in a stand-alone PowerPoint format.

Format: Single-spaced, 12-point font with one-inch margins. Proposals should include the following sections:

  1. Online Application Form (see form below)
  2. Research Plan (four-page limit):
    1. Objectives and Significance. What are you trying to do? Articulate your objectives using absolutely no jargon. Who cares? If you are successful, what difference will it make? State goals of the proposed research and summarize the expected outcome(s). Explain the high-level importance of the problem or critical barrier that the project addresses. (Related review criteria: Merit and Significance)
    2. Community Impact and Partnerships. With whom are you working? What community or population are you targeting? How will this work positively impact the community? Is this a new collaboration? If not new, how will this project grow your collaboration? (Related review criteria: Merit and Significance)
    3. Current State of the Art. How is it done today, and what are the limits of current practice? Briefly explain the current state of the art.Point out scientific challenges and limitations down to the root cause(s). Quantify whenever possible.
    4. What’s new in your approach? Describe your overall strategy, methodology, and analyses to be used to accomplish the project’s objectives.Address how your approach overcomes the root cause(s) of the challenge(s) you identified in the previous section. Specific details are helpful. (Related review criteria: Feasibility and Approach)
    5. Innovation/Differentiator. Why do you think your approach will be successful? Highlight the innovative nature of your proposal. Starting with the root cause of the challenges and limitations described earlier, how is your approach better? What differentiates your proposed research from the state of the art?  Is it a first? How might it revolutionize research and advance your field? Why hasn’t it been done before, and what leads you to believe that now is the optimal time? (Related review criteria:Innovation and Differentiators)
  3. Sustainability Plan (three-page limit) PI(s) must describe a clear sustainability plan for the proposed project.  Although community relationships evolve and grow over time, too often community collaboration come to an abrupt halt when funding ends.  How will you sustain the community collaboration? If additional funding is needed, what specific sources will you pursue? Projects that can be leveraged to obtain external funding will be prioritized.
  4. Quad Chart (one-page limit– see quad chart example template) [PowerPoint Format]
  5. Budget with breakdown of cost categories
  6. References (one-page limit)
  7. Current and Pending Support for PI and senior personnel (see PI Current and Pending Support List template)
  8. CVs – Two-page limit per investigator
  • Letter(s) of Commitment to participate in the project from community partner(s).
  • Department/college/other unit willingness to cost-share –Attachemail or letter from all Department Heads (departments), Associate Deans for Research (colleges), and/or leaders of other university units who are committing cost-share to the project.

Review Process

Proposals will be reviewed by UT faculty and staff. Deans and/or department heads of the PI and co-PI’s may also be asked for input on the importance of the project for their college or department. Evaluations will be based on these major criteria:

  1. Merit and Significance: Will the proposed advance research in the field? Does it challenge the current state of art? Will is overcome a barrier to advancing research in this field and broaden the horizon for future research? Is this a major question or problem? Does the project address a significant community challenge? Is a community need clearly identified? Is there evidence of community input in identifying this need?
  2. Feasibility and Approach:Are the research plans, methods, and analyses proposed appropriate? Will the methods and analyses achieve the objectives of the project? Are adequate resources (expertise, tools, equipment) included in the proposal? Does the PI propose an appropriate process for engaging the community?
  3. Innovation and Differentiators: Does the proposal leverage new theories, tools, or applications that will advance the field? Will the proposed project shift the current paradigm in the field? Are technical or intellectual innovations included in the proposal? Does the PI leverage individual or institutional differentiators? Will the project positively impact the target community? Will the community be engaged in a substantive manner?
  4. Sustainability: Does the project align with the funder identified? Is it reasonable to expect that in addition to alignment, funds will be available in the future (i.e. targeted program is not sun setting and is of continued interest to the funder)? Is the PI viable from target funder’s perspective? Is there potential alignment with other funders not mentioned in the proposal? As an alternative to or in addition to alignment for funders, how will the community partnership be sustained after this seed award?

ORE Programming Requirements

Awardees are encouraged to work with a staff member from the AVCRD’s office to review and formalize their sustainability plan.  Awardees are encouraged to also take part in one of the AVCRD workshops or training sessions during the period of performance unless they have completed one within the last 12 months.

Progress Tracking and Reporting

It is expected awardees will submit at least one external proposal based on the research.  Awardees are required to submit both a brief interim report and a final project report within 60 days after the award period end.  The final project report should include the results of the research, and plans or efforts underway to sustain the community collaboration. Lack of timely reporting may result in exclusion from future award opportunities. PI’s are responsible for tracking expenses associated with award.

For more information or questions, please contact  AVCRD@utk.edu.