Request for Proposals: University Strategic Initiative Seed Grants

Last updated: October 5, 2018

The Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost is making funds available through seed grants to fund pilot projects that support the University’s 2016-2020 Strategic Plan, Our Commitment to Impact. The University’s Strategic Plan Oversight Committee invites the Penn State community to work with the appropriate Steering Committees to develop initiative proposals. Information on the overarching funding philosophy behind Penn State’s strategic initiatives can be found on our Strategic Initiative Funding Philosophy page.

Proposals will be accepted for two review cycles per year. Proposals submitted in an earlier cycle (i.e. Cycle 3) will not receive more consideration than proposals submitted in a later cycle (i.e. Cycle 4). They may be submitted by any current Penn State faculty member, staff member, or student. Proposals should clearly demonstrate how the initiative promotes one or more of the plan’s Thematic Priorities (Advancing the Arts and Humanities, Driving Digital Innovation, Enhancing Health, Stewarding Our Planet’s Resources, and Transforming Education) or Supporting Elements (Constituent Outreach and Engagement, Infrastructure and Support, and Organizational Processes). Proposals should explicitly integrate one or more of the plan’s Foundations (Enabling Access to Education, Engaging Our Students, Fostering and Embracing a Diverse World, Enhancing Global Engagement, Driving Economic Development, and Ensuring a Sustainable Future).

 A call for proposals with submission information will be distributed November 5, 2018. 

The application and the budget worksheet used during Cycle 3 are in a Word document and Excel file. All proposals must be submitted via the online link, once available, for Cycle 4. The Cycle 4 deadline for Spring 2019 will be January 31, 2019 by 11:59pm.

Opportunities to Learn More

The Role of the Strategic Plan Steering Committees

The Strategic Plan Steering Committees are the bodies charged by the Executive Vice President and Provost to work with constituents to develop strategic initiatives in support of Penn State’s overall plan. It is part of the committees’ role to engage their networks to solicit a broad array of ideas. Those considering preparing a proposal are strongly encouraged to identify the appropriate committee and seek their input to develop and refine the initiative (see strategicplan.psu.edu/steering-committees/).  Some committees provide authors with an opportunity to receive feedback on a one-page concept paper prior to submitting their proposals.

 

Proposal Guidelines

  • Proposals will be evaluated on the strength of their alignment with a Strategic Theme or Supporting Element and on the extent to which they integrate the plan’s Foundations.
  • The funding range for individual proposals is $50,000 – $250,000. It is anticipated that approximately 10 proposals will be funded per proposal cycle (see timeline below).
  • Seed grants are not permanent funds, and proposals should include a plan for sustaining the initiatives beyond the grant-supported period.
  • Proposals should include a timeline that allows for documentable progress by the end of the seed grant award period (2-3 years from date of award).
  • Collaborations among multiple units will be given preference.
  • Proposals that address multiple components (themes, supporting elements, foundations) of the strategic plan will be given preference.
  • The evaluation form can be downloaded here. Committees may have additional criteria that they use to evaluate proposals.

Submitting a Proposal

Proposal Review Process

Authors will indicate which committee they would like to review their applications in the online application. Members of Strategic Plan committees may serve as authors on proposals but must recuse themselves from the evaluation of those proposals during this process. Committees may request additional information from authors during the review process.

  1. First Review: Steering Committee
    • Steering Committees review the proposals using the proposal evaluation form as a guideline.
    • Reviews will include an evaluation of the proposed budget and identification of potential ongoing funding sources.
    • Steering Committee evaluations are forwarded to the Executive Committees.
    • Steering Committees may eliminate proposals that do not meet the guidelines of the RFP (e.g., a $1 million dollar request) but do not otherwise remove proposals from consideration.
  2. Second Review: Executive Committee
    • Executive Committees review proposals.
    • Proposals not selected for consideration by the Oversight Committee will be returned to the author(s) with feedback from the Steering and Executive Committees.
  3. Third Review: Oversight Committee
    • Oversight Committee will review proposals forwarded by the Executive Committees.
    • The Oversight Committee will present its recommendations to the Committee Chair, Executive Vice President and Provost Nicholas P. Jones.
  4. Notification
    • Authors whose proposals were accepted will receive funding notifications from the Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost.
    • The winning proposals will be publicized in Penn State Today.
    • Authors of proposals that were not selected for funding in the Oversight Committee review will be notified and provided with Oversight Committee feedback from the Office of the Executive Vice President and Provost. Proposals may be re-submitted in the next review cycle after initial feedback has been addressed. Members must also recuse themselves from reviewing proposals submitted by those with whom they have a power relationship (for example, assistant professors are not permitted to review proposals submitted by members of their tenure committee or their department head).

Note on Potential Conflicts of Interest: Members of Strategic Plan committees are permitted to submit proposals, but they must recuse themselves from the review process (i.e., they cannot be present during discussions pertaining to those proposals). Members must also recuse themselves from reviewing proposals submitted by those with whom they have a power relationship (for example, assistant professors are not permitted to review proposals submitted by members of their tenure committee or their department head)

Initiative Proposal Timelines: 2017-2019

Initiative proposals may be submitted prior to the Cycle 4 deadline of January 31st, 2018, once the call for proposals has been distributed. However, no preference will be given to proposals submitted before this date; all proposals will be reviewed and notified on the same timeline displayed below.

Cycle 3: Fall 2018

Sept. 4 Cycle 3 submission deadline
Sept. 5 Start of Cycle 3 proposal review process
Nov. 16 Oversight Committee meeting to review proposals
Nov. 19 Top proposals forwarded by the Oversight Committee to the Provost
Mid-Dec. Funded initiative announcement; feedback provided to the authors of proposals not selected

Cycle 4: Spring 2019

Jan. 31 Cycle 4 submission deadline
Feb. 1 Start of Cycle 4 proposal review process
Apr. 10 Oversight Committee meeting to review proposals
Apr. 11 Top proposals forwarded by the Oversight Committee to the Provost
Mid-May Funded initiative announcement; feedback provided to the authors of proposals not selected.

 

Please submit questions about this process to the Office of Planning and Assessment at strategicplan@psu.edu or (814) 863-8721.