Announcement of Request for Proposals for Presidential Initiative Seed Grants

To: CU Denver Faculty

From: The Deans of CU Denver and Presidential Initiative Director Austin Troy

Date: July 14, 2020

We are pleased to announce a new Presidential Initiative Seed Grant opportunity for faculty pursuing urban and place-based research and creative work. The first round of these funds, in the amount of $150,000, will be awarded to individuals or teams from CU Denver to support projects that have potential to leverage additional funding.


  • The deadline for submission of proposals is Friday, August 21 at 5:30 PM. Please submit by email to
  • Awards will be announced in early September 2020 with expected project start dates in mid- to late-September.
  • Round-one seed grants should be no more than one year in duration and fully expended by the end of September 2021.
  • An event showcasing all awarded projects will take place in mid-2021.

Program Purpose and Priorities

The Presidential Initiative is intended to foster excellence and preeminence in urban and place-based research and creative work at CU Denver through offering funding, coordinating faculty across campus, communicating outcomes, enabling connections with partners in the community, and serving as a resource for sharing data and best practices. In so doing, it is intended to both increase the impact of CU Denver’s urban and place-based research and creative work, and to attract and fund faculty and students interested in this domain. While focused on urban issues generally, the Initiative emphasizes work relevant to the Front Range, particularly when it has implications nationally or internationally.

 The Initiative funds projects that address critical and timely topics related to cities, such as:  Social and Environmental Justice, Equity and Inclusion, Affordable Housing, Plan Making, Public Spaces, Global Cities, Smart Cities, Urban Informatics, Artificial Intelligence for Cities, Infrastructure, Transportation and Mobility, Climate Adaptation, Green Infrastructure, Air and Water Quality, Urban Ecology, Biomimicry, Green Real Estate Development, Public Health, Water and Energy Use, Natural Hazards Mitigation, Environmental Policy, Public Finance, Historic Preservation, Creative Industries, Placemaking, Community Development, Arts and Urban Revitalization, Healthcare Access, Economic Development, Behavioral Economics, Education Policy and Practice, Public Policy and Governance, Public Safety, Public Engagement, Entrepreneurship, Urban Design, Construction Management, and much more.


Proposals may be submitted by individuals or teams. The project lead should be a full-time faculty member at CU Denver (including tenure-track, CTT, and research faculty), have Principle Investigator (PI) status, and be eligible to apply for external grants.

 Proposal Requirements

  • Title
  • Names and unit affiliations for participants, plus contact information for the lead Investigator(s)
  • Brief abstract
  • Description of proposed project and how it will advance urban and place-based research and/or creative work; be sure to identify the places or communities addressed
  • Role of each member on the proposal team
  • Timeline and deliverables
  • Budget and brief budget justification
  • List of other funding opportunities you intend to leverage and a description of how this seed grant will help improve the chances of securing that funding
  • Description of community partner roles, if applicable, with letters of support  

Basis for proposal selection

Proposals will be reviewed by a committee including awardees from the TIAA Chancellor’s Urban Engaged Scholar’s program, with input from CU Denver Deans. Among the factors to be considered in selecting projects will be the following:


  • A topic in the domain of the Initiative (see above)
  • A project idea that displays promise to lead toward future, larger-scale funding
  • A well-considered and feasible research question and methodology or description of proposed creative work
  • The proposed use of paid student research assistants


  • Specific funding sources to which the project team intends to apply are identified
  • Meaningful collaboration with community partners is identified, if applicable to the work
  • The project team is interdisciplinary or cross-unit, if more than one Investigator is applying

 Funding Level and Allowable Costs

Grants will be funded in the range of $10,000-$20,000. Larger grants may be considered if it involves a larger team and the need for the higher expenditures can be justified. The award can be for a period of up to one year from the start date. In developing the budget, funds may be applied toward materials, equipment, salary for student research assistants, faculty salary (summer salary for 9-month faculty or academic year salary for Research Faculty), and travel. Seed Grants must be used only for legitimate costs directly related to proposed research and creative work and are not to be used for other purposes such as engaging consultants, preparing textbooks, revising courses, preparing class notes, performing editorial duties, compiling bibliographies, engaging in research for or preparation of a thesis or dissertation, or purchasing instructional equipment or equipment that will primarily be used for teaching or other research projects. A portion of funds may be allocated to part-time CU Denver employees or for an external partner, but if requested, the rationale must be clearly explained in the budget justification.

 Requirements for funded investigators

All funded investigators will be required to attend two in-person events. The exact dates of these will depend on the Safe Return schedule determined by the University, but the intent is that the first will occur soon after the launch of the projects and the second will occur around the time that projects are completed. In the first meeting, participants will present their proposed research and their plans for seeking future funding, in order to get feedback and ideas from their colleagues. The second meeting will be an opportunity to present the results and outputs of the projects to a larger audience.  If in-person meetings are not allowed in the given time frame, these will be done using Zoom. Through these meetings, the formation of interdisciplinary teams for future grant proposals will be encouraged.  Final presentations will be posted on the Initiative website. In addition, a final report (3-5 pages), describing outcomes as well as other grant proposals submitted/awarded for this project, will be due within one month of the end of the grant. Project leads are also expected to provide links to outputs from the project, such as publications, creative works, or data sets, for posting on the Initiative web site. Awardees may also be asked to help review proposals in subsequent funding rounds for the Initiative. More detailed terms of reporting, including due dates, will be given at the time of award.  

 Questions can be directed to the Initiative Director at   

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