Community-Based Research Grants

The Community-Based Research Program supports undergraduate students from any discipline who wish to complete a major research project while working with a community partner on a project that contributes in a significant way both to the advancement of student learning as well as the mission of the community organization. This grant program is very similar to the Young Scholars Grant program, with one key difference: Community-Based Research Grant projects benefit a community organization, a specific population, and/or the community at large.

Community-based research takes place in community settings and involves community partners in the design and implementation of research projects. Such activities should demonstrate respect for the contributions which are made by community partners and should serve the common good as well as respect the principle of "doing no harm" to the communities involved.

Successful applicants to this program receive a summer stipend of $4,200 and a $700 stipend for on-campus housing (if needed) from the end of May to the middle of August.  Recipients are expected to spend a total of 400 hours over 10 weeks working on their research and the resulting project.  This will involve time spent (as applicable and necessary) at their community partner organization and/or with the population that is the focus of their research, as well as time spent on research and development of a final, substantial project.

Students need to be sponsored and supervised by both a faculty mentor and a community mentor, each of whom will receive $500.

Deadline

Applications for research projects to be carried out over summer 2018 are due at 4:30 pm on Friday, February 16, 2018.

Timeline and Application Instructions

Students wishing to apply for a Community Based Research Grant will need to submit applications in February (for research during the following summer). Students wishing to received a $700 stipend to go toward the cost of on-campus housing should apply for a Summer Housing Grant at the same time. In order to apply, you will need to:

  • Identify a faculty member who is willing to mentor you throughout the duration of the project.
  • Identify a community partner for your project. 
  • Work with your faculty mentor and community partner to develop your application.
  • Submit the application, along with a copy of your academic transcript, by the stated deadline.
  • Ensure that your faculty mentor submits a mentor endorsement form and your community partner submits a letter of support for your project by the stated deadline.

The Community Based Research Grant application is designed to give you, the undergraduate student, a glimpse into the grantseeking process. Just as you would in working with any funding agency, here you are asked to take the lead in developing the project and/or your grant application, gathering required support materials, following instructions and meeting deadlines.

Once your application has been received and the application deadline has passed, the Undergraduate Research Board will review all applications. Then, the board will meet to determine which students will receive grants, and all applicants will be notified of the board's decision. This process takes 3-4 weeks to complete.

Grantee and Mentor Expectations

All Community Based Research Grant Awardees are expected to:

  • Complete 400 hours of work on the proposed research project over the course of the summer.
  • Complete all required paperwork and online trainings before stated deadlines.
  • Complete an Institutional Review Board application, if working with human subjects; submit an existing Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee protocol number, if working with animal subjects; 
  • Participate in the Inquiry at UST poster session following the summer of research.
  • Submit a final paper/project to the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program office by the posted deadline.
  • Complete a program exit survey, which will be received at the end of the grant period.

All Community Based Research Grant Faculty Mentors are expected to:

  • Set aside adequate time to meet with the scholar regularly throughout the term of the grant, and be available to assist the scholar.
  • Monitor and guide the scholar's work and teach, provide critical feedback, and direct in a timely way the research being conducted by the scholar.
  • Assist the scholar in the preparation of an application to the Institutional Review Board if working with human subjects; maintain and train the scholar in the existing Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee protocol if working with animal subjects;
  • Assist the scholar in constructing his or her final paper/project, which will be submitted to the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program.
  • Guide the scholar in the development of a poster for presentation at the Inquiry at UST poster session.
  • Alert the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program of any difficulties which the scholar encounters that may hinder the progress of his or her work.

Failure to carry out these responsibilities can result in the termination of the grant at the discretion of UROP. Students who do not complete all requirements will be out of compliance and will be ineligible to apply for future UROP funding. Faculty who do not complete requirements will be ineligible to receive the associated stipend.

Frequently Asked Questions

Am I eligible for this program?

If you are:

1. Enrolled as a degree-seeking undergraduate student at the University of St. Thomas, and will be continuing your studies in the fall following your summer of research; and
2. Are able to work full time on your research project without any other employment or class commitments, then

YES you are eligible!

Are there any restrictions?

Yes, there are restrictions associated with this grant. They are as follows:

No Academic CreditYou may not receive academic credit for the research you are doing as a Community Based Research Grant recipient.

Current Academic StandingYou must be a degree-seeking student at the University of St. Thomas during the time of your application, as well as during the semester following your Community Based Research grant period.

No Additional FundingYou may not accept additional scholarship or grant funding (except for a Summer Housing Grant) related to your Community Based Research Grant project during the grant period.

Faculty Mentoring RequiredYou must be mentored by a faculty member at the University of St. Thomas in order to receive a Community Based Research grant. This cannot be a project that you complete solely on your own.

No Outside Employment: As a Community Based Research grant recipient, you will be required to work full-time on your project for ten weeks during the summer. This means you may not take on additional remunerative employment—nor can you take classes during this time—including evenings and weekends. The purpose of this grant program is to free you from having to spend time on other paid employment. Before applying for a Community Based Research Grant, please ensure that you are able to work exclusively on this project full-time for 10 weeks over the summer.

Previous ComplianceIf you previously received notification from the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program that you are out-of-compliance with any other Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program grant program (for example, if you did not turn in a final paper or report at the end of a previous grant term, or if you neglected to attend the Inquiry at UST poster session), you are not eligible to receive funding under this program.

Where applicable, Active IACUC Protocol: You may not submit a proposal that requires the use of animal subjects if your faculty member does not already have an active, approved IACUC protocol for the animals in question.

How do I get started?

The first steps towards applying for this research grant are to nail down a research topic and a faculty member who is willing to work with you and mentor you through this process. Remember that research topics can vary widely across disciplines. You will also need to work with your faculty mentor to identify a community partner for this project.

Your research topic and community partner will be the driving forces behind your proposal application. The more concrete, specific goal(s) you have in mind, the stronger your application will be! Sometimes the research topic leads you to find a faculty member to work with, and sometimes it is the work you have already done with a faculty member which leads you to your research topic. Either way, they go hand-in-hand.

Once you have a clear idea as to what you want to research, a faculty member has agreed to mentor and work with you, and you have identified and confirmed a community partner who will also be involved in your research, you are ready to begin preparing your proposal!

What is the role/restrictions of the faculty mentor in the development of student proposals?

In order for the review of student applications to be fair, it is important that faculty mentors follow certain guidelines in terms of how much help they give the student as they write their proposal. Obviously, faculty should not write any sections of the proposal for their student, or otherwise allow student applicants to plagiarize their work. On the other hand, in most situations it is not fair to expect students to be able to clearly communicate the importance, goals, and methodology of a project without some guidance from their mentor. As with the research project itself, the process of writing a research proposal for internal support from the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (or any other funding agency) should be seen by the mentor as a teaching opportunity.

Examples of how a mentor guides their student researcher through the application process for a UROP award might include:

  1. An initial meeting to discuss the proposed research project, the guidelines of the application and how the project fits with those guidelines.
  2. Review of the entire proposal outline (written by the student), in which the mentor might suggest aspects of the project that should be added, removed or edited.
  3. Review of the entire proposal draft (written entirely by the student) point out areas that could be written more clearly, where more (or less) support is needed, or where transitional statements could be made to improve the “readability” of the document.
  4. Review of the entire second draft (written entirely by the student), helping to fine-tune the final project.

Each faculty mentor may help prepare and submit up to three students' proposals for a given term. This cap applies to the total proposals across different grant programs within the same term (e.g. 2 Young Scholars and 1 Community-Based Researcher).

How important is it to follow the Q&A format and word counts provided on the application?

It is REQUIRED that you follow the Q&A format provided on your grant application. Do not turn your application into one, long narrative—applications that do not follow the provided format are automatically disqualified. Applications that go over the word count limit are also automatically disqualified.

As you prepare your application, please keep in mind that it is being reviewed by three different individuals. These individuals are not looking at your entire application; instead:

  • One primary and one secondary reviewer, in disciplines close to your field, will review the Project Narrative section and only the Project Narrative section.
  • One tertiary reviewer, in a discipline that is not close to your field, will review the Project Summary section and only the Project Summary section.

Each portion of your application will receive scores that are based on your responses to the questions asked, so please ensure that you answer each question thoroughly yet concisely. Those scores are then combined, standardized, and ranked to create a suggested list of awardees for the Undergraduate Research Board to review. It is to your advantage to spend time ensuring that you have answered each question on the application adequately, and in the format provided.

What do reviewers look for in a proposal?

The questions provided on your grant application are designed to help the reviewers evaluate the following:

  • Can this project be completed by this student within the given time period?
  • Does this project foster meaningful and sustained student/faculty collaboration for the summer?
  • Is the student clearly the primary collaborator, with the mentor serving as secondary collaborator?
  • How clearly articulated is/are the research question(s)?
  • How clearly does the student explain the methodology or theoretical approach he or she will use?
  • How clear is the description of why the project is important to the student’s field and in general?
  • How effectively does the background description demonstrate the importance of the proposed project?
  • To what extent are cited sources appropriate for the proposed research?
  • How effectively does the literature review provide adequate context for the proposed research?
  • To what extent is the research design, methodology, and/or theoretical approach appropriate?
  • How clear is the description of the dissemination plan?
  • How clear is the description of the anticipated impact of the research on the student’s field, the broader community, and the student’s intellectual development?

How to Prepare a Proposal

A complete proposal will consist of the following components and will be reviewed by members of the Undergraduate Research Board. THE APPLICATION MUST BE COMPLETED IN A QUESTION AND ANSWER FORMAT – NOT IN ESSAY FORMAT. Insert your answers below each question in the Word document application form.

1. Press Summary
In this section, you will be asked to briefly explain your proposed research to a non-specialist. Reviewers of your application will evaluate the extent to which you are able to articulate your research to an educated non-expert reader, that is, a reader who does not work in a field related to your own. Answer all of the questions as completely as possible, write clearly and concisely, and avoid disciplinary jargon.

2. Project Narrative

This component of your proposal consists of five major sections.  In this area of your proposal, you will be evaluated on the clarity of your proposal, the quality of your project design, and the scholarly merit and appropriateness of your proposed inquiry and outcomes. You can expect your readers to have some expertise in your field or a field related to your own, but it is still incumbent upon you to communicate clearly and educate your reader about the methods and aims of your work. Any necessary disciplinary jargon is allowed here, but be sure to include a glossary of terms in your appendices if you use jargon.

3. Project Logistics

You must include a Timeline, succinctly stating what you plan to do and when over the course of the semester, identify your final product or project, and provide a brief Dissemination Plan.  Applications missing any of these items will not be reviewed.

4. Any Needed Appendices

Appendices may include at your discretion:

- References:  You should be certain to include appropriate references to the literature you cited in the narrative. Proper bibliography citations should appear at the end of the narrative section. Use the format for citations that is the standard for your field.

- Glossary of terms:  This appendix should include a glossary of any technical terms that may be unfamiliar to readers outside of your discipline.

- Supporting figures:  This section should include the figures that you discuss in the proposal narrative. They must be labeled (for example, Fig. 1, Fig, 2, etc.) and referred to within the proposal.

- Special expenses budget:  This appendix should include a detailed, line-item budget, listing such special project-related expenses as chemicals, unusual materials, etc., that you will need in order to carry out your research. These costs may be contributed by the department in which your project is housed. If this is the case, your faculty advisor must sign a statement indicating that the department will bear these costs. Include this appendix only if your project will require additional funds to be viable.

- Treatment of human and animal subjects:  If your project will use human or animal subjects, your proposal must be reviewed by either the Institutional Review Board (for human subjects) or the Institutional Animal Use and Care Committee (for animal subjects). This appendix is mandatory only if you conduct research on human or animal subjects.

- External letters of support when appropriate:  If you need equipment and/or library materials that are not available through ACTC libraries or inter-library loan, or if your project will require the cooperation of any person or agency outside the UST community, include a letter from that party indicating his or her willingness to help. Include this appendix only if you will need cooperation from individuals or institutions outside of the UST community

5. Transcript of College Grades (unofficial)
You may go online to Murphy/Student Services/Student Records/Academic Transcript to save your unofficial transcript as a PDF. This will be uploaded as a part of your online application.

6. Mentor Endorsement Form
The Young Scholars Mentor Endorsement Form must be completed by the faculty member who is mentoring your project. This is an online form also linked on the right side of this page.

Parts 1-4 must be saved as a single Word document and uploaded through the online application portal on the right side of this pagePart 5 must be uploaded as a PDF at the same time. For Part 6, mentors must submit the form online. All six parts must be received at the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program by 4:30 p.m. on the posted deadline.

How competitive is the grant and what are the chances of my project being funded?

This is a highly competitive program, with approximately 58% of summer proposals across all programs being funded on average. Please be aware that many top-notch research projects cannot be funded owing to limitations on our funds. If your proposal is ultimately not funded, be sure to ask for the reviewers' comments, discuss your project and those comments with your faculty mentor, and consider applying in the future round of funding. Just because you are not funded does not mean that your proposal was not of high quality.

When proposals are otherwise equivalent, and resources are limited, reviewers may also consider the following:

Has this student been the recipient of other awards from the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program?
Has this faculty member recently been the co-recipient of other awards?
Have students in this department/program recently received a number of other student awards from the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program?

Can I apply to the program more than once?

You may only submit ONE Community Based Research Grant application during each round of competition. You may apply for more than one Community Based Research Grant during your academic career; however, you are limited to receiving only two.

Please keep in mind that you are not able to receive a third grant from the Community Based Research Grant program.

Application Materials

Before you fill out an application, please ensure that you’ve read the all of the eligibility requirements and other information posted on this page. If you plan to apply for housing, please also ensure that you submit your application along with your Community-Based Research Grant application.

Applications are due by 4:30 pm on Friday, February 16, 2018. 

Application materials and the online application portal will be made available during the Fall 2017 semester.

Examples of Possible Approaches to your Community-Based Research grant

• UST student Randy Hade (Dr. Lisa Waldner, faculty advisor) examined the impact of a community garden in a St. Paul neighborhood as well as community connectedness and civic engagement.

• UST student Katherine Cook (Dr. Lisa Waldner, faculty advisor) assisted Family and Children's Services to assess the effectiveness of their out-of-school-time program, “Youth on the Move,” in order to design better assessment tools.

Other possible approaches:

• Help organizations analyze their assets and the areas that they serve, as well as the needs and demands of the populations that they serve.

• Validate water quality and quantity in sustainable storm water management in partnership with a city’s department of public works.

• Assess the waste produced by a specific organization or neighborhood and provide data for improving disposal, recycling, and composting procedures. 

• Document the extent to which residents living in a specific urban area are limited in their search for employment by the current configuration of bus routes.  Meet with city and agency representatives to identify ways in which routes could be changed or new services developed to enhance successful transitions from welfare to work.

• Review previous studies and identify key indicators relating to affordable housing, use GIS to identify potential sites for affordable housing development ,and provide a final report containing a detailed explanation of methodology and findings. This research can be shared with community developers and could potentially be used to identify future development sites or used in policy and education efforts with the city council.

• In conjunction with a housing nonprofit, interview heads of households that have experienced foreclosure to determine the causes of foreclosures and what effect the foreclosures have had on the financial opportunities and social capital of the household.  Expected outcomes may include reports for agencies that work to prevent foreclosures.

• Assist local neighborhood organizations in researching important issues related to new transit programs.  Research and develop tools that local agencies and neighborhoods could use to evaluate neighborhood transit/walkability conditions, as well as issues related to transit station design and station area planning.  The results may be used to inform decision-making, advocate for positions on key transit issues and decisions, build capacity within the neighborhoods to participate in local involvement transit initiatives, and inform neighborhood agency staff and county/city elected officials.

• Interview volunteers at a local organization and analyze results to determine the satisfaction of the volunteer experience and ways in which the organization may strengthen its volunteer program.

• Conduct research for organizations that provide meals to people with life-threatening illnesses to determine the role of nutrition in their treatment.