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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 has launched a Research Spark Grants program, available to scholars across all three UW campuses to pursue research interests in critical aspects of contemporary urban societies.

Check out the full RFP.

Read about the 2020-1 awardees.

Details of Grant

The goal of Urban@UW’s Spark Grants  grants program is to *spark* new and emerging urban research initiatives to scope out their mission and initial research, teaching, and engagement goals. Proposals may request up to $20,000. Urban@UW anticipates funding 2 projects.

For 2021-2, we will prioritize applications that include scholars whose research programs were impacted as a result of the pandemic.


  • 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 that would support, or lead to, new research in urban scholarship and practice. Funds can support existing projects if explanation is provided of the potential impact, including additional funding, that bridge support would enable.
  • Applications should address an issue related to urban societies.
  • The project team must be cross-disciplinary, and the project should engage or have practical application to external practitioners, stakeholders, organizations or policy.
  • Funds 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 reasonable support for non-UW partners to join. Untenured faculty or research staff may allocate up to 50% of funds for salary.
  • The funds are not to be used in support of general administrative costs.


  • May 24, 2021: RFP announced
  • June 14, 2021: application period opens
  • July 16, 2021: application deadline (11:59pm Pacific)
  • August 16, 2021: awardees notified
  • September 15, 2021-April 30, 2022: period of performance
    • reporting will be requested during this period, details TBD.
  • June 30, 2022: final report detailing accomplishments and budget reconciliation due

Application Format

Proposals should be sent by 11:59pm on July 16, 2021 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 a brief context and justification;
    • a list of the members of the project team along with their titles and department or organizational 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 seeking/receiving IRB approval, if needed;
    • a plan for disseminating and/or using results of the project; and
    • a brief discussion of whether/how current or potential additional funds will be used for this project, including start-up funds;
    • if/as appropriate, an explanation of if and how the research program of specific team members is, or was, negatively affected by the pandemic. This should be described at an individual level, not a general impact statement.
  2. A separate 1-page budget and budget narrative,
  3. A separate 1-page list of potential partners/stakeholder groups and the status of any relationships with them or rationale for their involvement,

Review Criteria

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

  • Originality: The project demonstrates an innovative, challenging idea, critical thinking, advanced scholarship, and/or a new or experimental approach
  • Inclusiveness: The project cuts across disciplines and sectors. We will prioritize applications that are cross-rank and cross-unit, and those that engage junior researchers / scholars as well as scholars and/or partners from underrepresented groups or communities.  Projects are also encouraged to involve students.
  • Potential for Impact: The project holds promise for making a meaningful contribution to discourse and/or the field, and for substantive change in policy, planning, practice or decision-making in the larger urban community. Projects explicitly consider avenues for sustaining interactions after the funds are expended.
  • Feasibility: The project has clear and realistic goals, time frame, work plan, and budget.
  • 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.
  • Recovery: We will prioritize applications that include scholars whose research program were impacted as a result of the pandemic (e.g., inability to collect in-person data, loss of childcare, personal or family illness).

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 60 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.