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2021/22 Innovation Grants RFP FAQs

Here are some common questions we have received concerning the 2021/22 EarthLab Innovation Grants Request for Proposals.

Is the Letter of Intent submitted through the System to Administer Grants Electronically (SAGE)?

Answer: No. The Letter of Intent is submitted through a Google Form as a pdf attachment here: EarthLab Innovation Grants Program – 2022 LOI SUBMISSION FORM (google.com)


How do social scientists fit into Innovation Grant projects?

Answer: EarthLab requires interdisciplinary teams that can approach the project from both a physical science and social science perspective. Many of the EarthLab teams have included social scientists.


Do you need to have PI status to apply?

Answer: Yes. At least one of the UW researchers must have PI status.


Do we need to have 1 or 2 PIs?

Answer: Just one.


How much of the grant goes to UW for overhead?

Answer: None. The Innovation grant does not go through the Office of Sponsored Programs (OSP).


Do UW team members need to be from different departments?

Answer: Researchers do not have to be from different units. It is more important to bring together different disciplines and partners.


Would a for-profit business be eligible to participate?

Answer: The grants are not meant to support commercializing efforts, but companies can be community partners in these grants. You will need to frame the company’s role in a community-driven project and what the climate/social justice problem you are trying to address.


How long is the full proposal?

Answer: 4 pages.


Who writes the letters of intent?

Answer: The letters should come from the entire team, including the community partner, committing to the project and collectively addressing the criteria in the RFP.


Can these funds be part of matching funds for a new project?

Answer: Yes, but the intention is to fund new or emerging partnerships.


Can it be an existing partnership moving into a new project/project area?

Answer: Yes, and preference will be given to new collaborations that bring together new partners or connections.


Does the community partner have to be a non-science-based partner?

Answer: No.


Would EarthLab be able to help connect with community partners?

Answer: EarthLab is better able to connect community partners with faculty at UW.


How do you measure success or impact?

Answer: We want to see that a project produces usable knowledge to address the needs of the community partner (local impact). Ideally, when shared, the solution developed by these collaborations could benefit other communities in similar circumstances (global impact).


What do you mean by “clearly stated goals for sustainability or growth” of the projects you are funding?

Answer: We recognize these grants are for early stage funding. We are looking at how teams are thinking ahead about how the Innovation grant can get them to the next phase of growth and implementation of the project or of the partnership.


What support is EarthLab providing to build support and create a more dynamic exchange between faculty members and community networks?

Answer: At this time we do not have a formal mechanism for matching academic and community members. It is something we seek to develop over time. Please email elgrants@uw.edu with your project ideas, and we can help facilitate connections between faculty and community partners.


When is the start date determined? Is it by EarthLab or the team?

Answer: The grant award period is between April 2022- September 2023. EarthLab understands there can be a lag between funding availability and project commencement. However, the expectation is that these funds are used in an expeditious manner. 


How much of the funding needs to be dedicated to research? Community? Students?

Answer: Ideally a third of the grant funds are dedicated to each component (research, community partner, and student).


Are there any limitations/rules around how a project is being funded if there are other funding sources as well?

Answer: No restrictions if additional funding is available. 


Is there a way for the money to go directly to the community members or does it pass through EarthLab?

Answer: Yes, funds can be directly paid to the community partner through the UW Invoice System.

Is EarthLab primarily interested in projects that generate scholarly research in a body of academic literature relevant to this cycle’s goals (climate change and social justice), or projects that generate direct humanitarian impacts relating to climate change and social justice?

Answer: EarthLab is interested in generating usable and used science that has the potential to make an immediate impact for the community or non-academic partner. This research may produce academic literature related to addressing the challenge or question of interest for the community partner.


Are the letters of support from community and non-academic project collaborators mandatory at the LOI stage?

Answer: Letters of support are not mandatory at the LOI stage. Letters of support can be submitted with the full proposal should your project be invited to submit a full proposal. The review team will only be sent 2 pages of the LOI and up to 3 pages of letters of support.


Does the student need to be named with the LOI or Full Proposal submissions?

Answer: The specific student(s) does not need to be identified (named) at the time of application, however, the applicant should describe how the student (once identified) will have meaningful involvement in the project.


Is there a disadvantage for applications with similar projects?

Answer: Addressing climate is a massive problem so it is okay to have overlap.


Is the idea of the Letter of Intent that you will review them and then help us if there are questions?

Answer: The purpose of the letter of intent is to make sure teams submitting a full proposal meet all of our criteria. In addition, given the volume of interest in these grants in the past, we only want to burden those teams with the most competitive proposals (in the eyes of our grant review committee) to submit a full proposal.


Are there any restrictions on how community partners may use funds? How are they disbursed?

Answer: The funds will be disbursed to the community partners by invoicing EarthLab. Expenses for the community partner should be consistent with the allowable expenses identified on page 5 of the RFP.


Are community partnerships limited to partners in the US, or can it be global?

Answer: It can be global; we have some global community partnerships in our existing cohort.


How important is scaling a project to larger and more impactful outcomes? Thinking about proposing a pilot scale project?

Answer: Pilot projects are of interest to us, and even more interesting if they are scalable and could benefit multiple communities challenged by similar issues.


What is the timeline for being notified to submit a full proposal? 

Answer: February 11th, 2022. Full proposals will be due March 22nd and awards announced on April 11th. Letters of Intent do not require a budget.