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2020 Innovation Grants Announced

UW EarthLab selects four community-led research teams to solve complex environmental challenges and make a positive impact on people’s lives and livelihoods

Today EarthLab announced that four transdisciplinary teams have been selected for the 2020-2021 Innovation Grants program. This signature initiative provides essential funding to newly formed applied research teams that are led by and with community partners who are impacted by a complex environmental problem. Each team will receive up to $75,000 to research the issue and develop science that can be acted upon to make a positive impact on people and communities. The award period lasts 16 months and final products are due by September 30, 2021. 

EarthLab co-funded a fifth project earlier this year in collaboration with the UW Population Health Initiative. In total, EarthLab has awarded $325,000 in research grants in 2020.

Interest in the Innovation Grants program has rapidly grown since its inaugural funding round last year. This year, 43 teams submitted letters of intent to apply to the RFP, of which 18 were invited to submit a full proposal. Proposals were evaluated by an 11-member review committee that included faculty and staff from several disciplines and a community member from outside of the university. 

“EarthLab’s Innovation Grants program is unique in that it inspires brand new, interdisciplinary teams to come together to not only identify an environmental challenge but to work together to develop ways to solve problems,” said Rob Wood, chair of the Innovation Grants review committee. “The large number of thoughtful and creative submissions tells me that the opportunity strikes a chord with UW faculty and community members. It was extremely difficult to turn down so many teams but I am really excited to watch the awarded projects develop over the next year.”

Project teams included faculty from a range of disciplines at the University of Washington, including public health, environmental and occupational health sciences, civil & environmental engineering, atmospheric sciences, marine sciences, landscape architecture, humanities, American Indian Studies and more. Partners from beyond the university include Tribal leaders and communities, city governments, community organizers and other universities.

In addition to the funds awarded, Innovation Grant recipients receive administrative and communications support throughout the award period. All teams are invited to meet as a cohort at workshop-style meetings which are designed to share resources on interdisciplinary and community-engaged research, create the opportunity for co-learning and networking, and to provide a structured space to work collaboratively on their projects.

“This funding is a crucial part of what we do at Earthlab, and I’m proud of the approach we take to support our grantee teams,” said Anastasia Ramey, grants program lead at EarthLab. “Our goal is not only to fund interesting and impactful research, but to create opportunities for connection and shared learning.”

EarthLab is an initiative launched out of the UW College of the Environment to solve the biggest problem of our lifetime – our changing environment. EarthLab works across the entire university to accelerate and focus UW’s broad expertise across multiple fields, amplify engagement between private, public, non-profit and community leaders, and spur the development of co-created, meaningful, science-based solutions to improve people’s lives and livelihoods. The Innovation Grants program is an annual initiative supported by newly raised funds. 

Learn more about the Innovation Grants program here and check back often for news regarding the 2019 and 2020 funded projects.

Funded Projects