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Research Spark Grants


Urban@UW Research Spark Grants

The mission of Urban@UW is to catalyze, support and amplify collaborative research-to-practice efforts that address today’s urban challenges. As part of our effort to lift up and enable such efforts, Urban@UW’s Research Spark Grants program supports collaborative research pursuits into the complex issues of urban societies and systems.

Details of Grant

The goal of this small grants program is to spark new and emerging urban research initiatives as they build their mission and initial research, teaching, and engagement goals. Urban@UW anticipates funding up to 3 projects, with a goal of supporting projects/PIs located at each of UW’s 3 campuses, depending on the proposal pool, and with the expected sum of awards totaling $45,000.


  • Lead applicants must be faculty or PI-eligible research staff at the University of Washington. Individuals may not serve as a lead on more than one project team and teams may not submit more than one application.
  • Proposals shall focus on collaborative development to support, or lead to, new urban scholarship and practice. Funds can support existing projects if explanation is provided of the potential impact, including additional funding, that such bridge support would enable.
  • Applications should address an issue related to urban systems or societies.
  • The project team must be cross-disciplinary, and the project must include, in a substantive manner, at least one external partner.
  • Budgets, which we encourage to be within the range of $15,000, can be used to support conferences or workshops per UW and state policy, student research assistants, supplies and materials, relevant travel per UW travel guidelines, and support for non-UW partners. Untenured faculty or research staff may allocate up to 50% of funds for salary. Tenured faculty may allocate up to 20% of funds for salary.
  • The funds are not to be used in support of general administrative costs.


  • April 15, 2022: application period opens
  • July 15, 2022: application deadline (11:59 pm PDT)
  • August 15, 2022: awardees notified
  • September 15, 2022-May 30, 2022: period of performance
    • mid-project reports will be requested once during this period, details TBD.
  • June 30, 2023: final report detailing accomplishments and budget reconciliation due

Application Format

Proposals should be sent by 11:59 pm on July 15, 2022 to with the subject “Urban@UW Research Spark Grant”. They should include:

  1. A PDF proposal of no more than 4 single-spaced pages (12-point font; 1” margins), which includes:
    • the urban topic area/question that is being explored along with context and justification
    • a list of the members of the project team along with their titles and affiliations
    • a description of the role each member will play in the project
    • a work plan including potential hurdles the team might encounter
    • a timeline for completing the work
    • a plan for receiving IRB approval, if needed
    • a plan for using results of the project;
    • a brief discussion of whether/how other available or potential funding may be used for this project, including start-up funds
  2. A separate, 1-page budget and budget narrative
  3. A separate, 1-page list of partners with the following information:
    • the status and evidence of relationships
    • rationale for their involvement
    • how the project aligns with each partner’s priorities–how the work is useful for them
  4. One letter of support from each external partner

Review Criteria

The following criteria will be examined, in addition to eligibility as described above.

  • Alignment with Urban@UW’s mission: to develop and activate our scholarly community to improve the resilience & sustainability, health & wellbeing, and justice & equity of cities.
  • Originality: The project demonstrates a challenging idea, innovative approach, critical thinking, and/or advanced scholarship.
  • Inclusiveness: The project cuts across sectors, fields and perspectives. We will prioritize applications that are cross-rank, that are transdisciplinary, that engage junior scholars, and that include people from underrepresented groups or communities.  Projects are encouraged to involve students.
  • Potential for Impact: The project holds promise for making a meaningful contribution to the field, and for substantive change in policy, planning, practice or decision-making in the larger urban community.
  • Feasibility: The project has clear and realistic goals, time frame and work plan; and a budget that aligns with these components as well as eligibility requirements.
  • Capacity: The applicant team possesses strong qualifications and/or knowledge, demonstrated ability to collaborate, and has access to necessary resources outside the support of Urban@UW. The proposal builds on demonstrably stable partnerships with community partners, through prior work or other evidence of relationship. The application discusses avenues for sustaining interactions after the funds are expended.

Terms and Conditions

  • Funds will be disbursed to the department of a single designated project lead for day-to-day administration. Budgets must be able to accept “Designated Operating Funds” transfers.
  • For projects that involve research on human subjects or on animals, it is the PI’s responsibility to ensure compliance with all applicable federal, state, and institutional regulations, including but not limited to IACUC, IRB, and applicable union contacts for student employees. Work may not begin on the project until all appropriate compliance procedures are complete and verification has been provided to Urban@UW.
  • If there is a proposed change or absence (60 days or greater) in PI, recipients will immediately provide justification via email to
  • Any unspent funds will be returned to Urban@UW.
  • Awardees shall submit final report detailing accomplishments and final budget reconciliation no more than 30 days from the project’s conclusion.
  • Awardees will be asked to participate in a post-program evaluation survey.
  • Awardees may be asked to share their work with an Urban@UW audience.