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Racial and Social Justice Seed Grants

Applications due Wednesday, May 15, 2024 (Updated)

2023 Racial and Social Justice Seed Grant Recipients

Nine Racial and Social Justice Seed grants were awarded to support research projects demonstrably centered on exploring the sources and consequences of racial inequities and social justice.

Program Guidelines

Please read the program guidelines thoroughly, as there have been updates, including a change in the length of the funding period, clarifications of eligibility requirements, and additional information requested in the application.

2023-24 Racial And Social Justice Seed Grants Program Committee

  • Alden Young (Chair / Bunche Center)
  • Terence Keel (Bunche Center)
  • Shannon Speed (AISC)
  • Kyeyoung Park (AASC)
  • May Wang (AASC)

Purpose

The Institute of American Cultures (IAC) in collaboration with the Office of Vice Chancellor for Research and Creative Activities (ORCA) offer Racial and Social Justice (RSJ) Seed Grants designed to help launch and support research projects demonstrably centered on exploring the sources and consequences of racial inequities and social justice. 

The proposal must represent research and/or creative activities that substantially engage racial equity and social justice. Each collaborator’s expertise should clearly contribute to developing a racial equity and social justice oriented project. Grant funds may be used to advance a work-in-progress or to catalyze a new endeavor. In both cases, the PI should not have previously been awarded major research funding for the proposed project. Potential uses of the grants include, but are not limited to:

  • Development of proof-of-concepts
  • Collection of pilot data
  • Archival research
  • Drafting of white papers
  • Study of campus climate issues
  • Creation of functional prototypes
  • Development of preliminary art and multimedia work
  • Training programs that allow the research team to be competitive for future funding

A primary goal of the Racial and Social Justice Seed Grants is to facilitate investigators’ preparedness for attaining extramural funding. Projects are expected to be sufficiently developed to demonstrate how the receipt of an RSJ grant will increase competitiveness for future extramural funding (with the recognition that the project development phase may require additional time beyond the RSJ grant period).

As part of this program’s aim to advance academic research, it is expected that awardees will leverage available campus resources and tools to build and broaden their knowledge of the grant development process. This may include participating in workshops/activities hosted by ORCA and/or IAC focused on building researchers capacity to support their work. In addition, awardees are encouraged to consider meeting with staff in UCLA offices with expertise in foundation relations and individual philanthropy. 


Background

As a multi-year commitment, the Racial and Social Justice Seed Grants are a part of the Rising to the Challenge (RTC) initiative announced in June 2020. Projects supported by RSJ grants are expected to advance the goals of the RTC initiative by enhancing UCLA’s commitment to studying Black life, racial equity, and social justice. Proposals for RSJ funding should articulate specifically how the proposed project fulfills this aim.

This is the fourth cycle of the Racial and Social Justice Seed Grants.

View Racial and Social Justice Seed Grant Recipients

Award Amount

It is anticipated that 8-10 projects will be funded, with a maximum award of up to $30,000 per project. 

Reviewers may elect to provide partial funding to a project.


Period of Performance

Awardees should plan for a project period of approximately 18 months (inclusive of the time needed to complete any required IRB/ARC process).

Awardees should plan to use all funds by December 31, 2025. The award period will run through June 30, 2026 to accommodate unexpected delays. Requests for a no-cost extension beyond this date will only be granted in exceptional circumstances.

Awardees should plan to complete any required IRB/ARC processes within 4 months of the award notification date. Any need for additional time should be communicated to program staff at orcafunding@conet.ucla.edu


Award Disbursement 

It is anticipated that applicants will be notified of the outcome of their application by July 2024.  

Funds will be distributed in a timely manner upon receipt of a completed award acceptance form and any required IRB/ARC documentation. In exceptional circumstances, a partial transfer of the award funds may be considered to allow the initiation of parts of the project not subject to IRB approval (e.g. hiring, IRB material preparation). 

Award funds will be transferred to a UCLA account for the awardee.

  • NOTE: Prior to submitting a proposal, the PI should ensure they have identified the UCLA department that will receive and administer any awarded funds. 

Award funds must be used in accordance with the submitted budget. 

Award funds must be used in compliance with all university policies and procedures.


Awardee Requirements

Awardees are expected to communicate with the program staff in a timely manner regarding any questions or issues related to their award. This includes, but is not limited to:

  • Extension requests
  • Substantive changes to the scope of the project
  • Proposed changes to the PI or Co-PI
  • Budget reallocations to items/categories not included in the application budget

It is expected that awardees will leverage available campus resources and tools to build and broaden their knowledge of the grant development process. As needed, PIs, Co-PIs and/or project teams should be prepared and willing to attend meetings with program staff and/or other UCLA offices. 

PIs will be responsible for submitting a final report outlining the outcomes of the project. 

Shortly after the completion of the award period, program staff will contact PIs with additional information regarding the final report requirements.

The UCLA Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research & Creative Activities and the Racial and Social Justice Seed Grants program must be credited in any work product resulting from this funding.

PI Eligibility

Each application must have a single Principal Investigator (PI) who personally participates in the project to a significant degree and has primary responsibility for the execution and administration of the project. This person will serve as the primary contact for all communications from the OAG program staff.

The PI must hold a UCLA appointment as of 7/1/2024 that is a member of the Academic Senate (See Academic Senate membership: UC Regents Standing Order 105.1).

Individuals may serve as the PI on only one submission to this program, but may serve as a Co-PI or project team member on other submissions.


Co-PI Eligibility

Projects may have up to four Co-PIs. Individuals listed as Co-PIs should include those who will personally participate in the project to a significant degree. In certain instances, a Co-PI may also have some responsibility for the execution and/or administration of the project.

Co-PIs must hold a UCLA appointment as of 7/1/2024.

Contributors to the project who are not eligible to serve as a Co-PI should be included in the application as part of the project team.


Previous RSJ Recipient Eligibility 

Prior recipients of funding through the Racial and Social Justice Seed Grants program may apply for funding for a different project, provided they do not have an active award through the RSJ program. An active award is any award for which the project period has not ended (including any time added to the project period due to a no-cost extension).


Previous ORCA Funding Recipient Eligibility

The same project is not eligible to receive funding through multiple ORCA programs. Projects that have already received funding through any of the following programs are not eligible for submission:

  • Transdisciplinary Research Acceleration Grants (TRAG)
  • Racial and Social Justice Seed Grants (RSJ)
  • Latinx Studies Seed Grants (LSS)
  • ORCA Acceleration Grants (OAG)

Applicants with current or past funding through other ORCA programs are eligible to apply for funding for a different project. However, reviewers may take into consideration whether an applicant has received funding through an ORCA program in the past.


Applications to Multiple ORCA Funding Programs

The same project may not be submitted to more than one ORCA funding opportunity in the same cycle. 

PIs, Co-PIs, and other project team members may also apply for funding in the same cycle through the ORCA Acceleration Grants (OAG) program provided that the applications are for distinct projects.

An individual may serve as a PI on only one application to either the Latinx Studies Seed (LSS) Grant program OR the RSJ program in a single application cycle. 

An individual may serve in a role other than PI or Co-PI (i.e. project team member) on multiple applications to both programs.

While an overlap exists between the RSJ and LSS call for proposals, scholars whose research has explicit focus on or implications for Latinx populations in the USA are encouraged to apply to the LSS program. If you are unsure which ORCA funding opportunity aligns most clearly with your project, please contact orcafunding@conet.ucla.edu.


Awardees of Other Funding

Projects currently funded by major research awards (over $30,000) are not eligible for consideration. Should any aspect of a proposal receive alternative funding, the PI must notify the program contact (orcafunding@conet.ucla.edu) as soon as possible.

Proposals that build off other funded work are eligible, but the application should describe how the proposal is distinct from existing funded work.

Use of Funds 

Funds must be used for direct research costs such as materials, supplies, personnel, and travel to the extent that such expenses are directly related to the proposed project.

Proposed activities and expenditures must comply with all applicable university policies and procedures. 


Allowable Expenses

The following are allowable expenses:

  • Personnel, including staff/student salaries and fee remissions
    • Proposals may include compensating non-UCLA affiliated personnel, especially members of the local community. An explanation of why this person’s expertise or service is critical for the success of the project should be included in the project narrative.
  • Travel and accommodations
  • Materials and supplies directly related to conducting the proposed research/creative activity
  • Open Access publishing fees of up to $7,000

Unallowable Expenses

Funds may not be used for UCLA-based faculty/PI salaries or support including teaching buy-outs or summer ninths, or departmental overhead costs (indirect costs). 

The following activities are not eligible for funding under this mechanism:

  • Seminars, courses, or curricular development
  • Conferences or conference support, workshops, or training programs 
  • Publishing subventions 
    • NOTE: Open Access publishing fees of up to $7,000 may be included

Applications must be submitted by Wednesday, May 15, 2024 at 11:59pm.  (Updated)


Submission Portal

All proposals must be submitted through the RSJ application portal . Applicants should access the application using the “UCLA Login” option, which will prompt the user to login using their single sign-on credentials.

NOTE: The application portal is under construction, and the link will be posted here when available. All required application components are listed below, so applicants are encouraged to begin preparing their application materials before the application portal link is posted.


Application Requirements

The application form is divided into the following sections and will request the information listed below.

 

Section I: PI Information

  • Biographical information (Name, email, school/division, department)
  • Eligibility confirmation
  • Previous ORCA funding (through TRAG, OAG, RSJ, LSS)
  • UCLA department to administer grant funds
    • NOTE: This can be changed if the project is awarded, but the PI should ensure they have identified a UCLA department that can receive and administer any awarded funds. 

 

Section II: Co-PI Information (Optional)

  • Biographical Information (Name, email, school/division, department)
  • An application may have up to four Co-PIs. Individuals listed should include those who will personally participate in the project to a significant degree. In certain instances, a Co-PI may also have some responsibility for the execution and/or administration of the project.

 

Section III: Project Team Information (Optional)

  • Contributors to the project who are not eligible to serve as a Co-PI can be included in the application as part of the project team.
  • A list of project team members (Name, title, affiliation) can be uploaded as a pdf

 

Section IV: Application Information

  • Proposal title (Suitable for use in award announcement)
  • Project abstract (150 words max / Suitable for use in award announcement)
  • Requested funding amount
  • Other project funding (if applicable)
    • Proposals that build off other funded work are eligible, but the application should describe how the proposal is distinct from existing funded work.
    • Projects currently funded by major research awards (over $30,000) are not eligible for consideration. 
  • NOTE: The information above does not need to be included in the Project Narrative document.

Section V: Uploads

Project Narrative (6-page maximum, double-spaced, one-inch margins, 12 pt. font minimum, excluding references).

In a single pdf document, please include the following information (with section headings):

  • Research Questions/Creative Activities: Statement of question/issue to be addressed, current state of knowledge and general research approach to be used
  • Social Justice, Public Impact, Racial Equity: Statement on how the aims of the project are squarely concerned with social justice and racial equity, and have the potential to impact public life. Projects should explicitly state how they advance the goals of the Rising to the Challenge initiative. 
  • Current Progress and Funding Potential: Summary of existing work by the PIs to date, any funding already secured for the project, and the project’s potential for extramural funding, including identification of specific funding agencies or calls for proposals.
  • Timeline and Outcomes: Timeline of activities and anticipated outcomes. Specific dates are not required, but the timeline should align with the funding period for this program (approximately 18 months)  

NOTE: The project narrative should be written so that it is understandable by reviewers from a variety of disciplines.

Fair Collaboration Plan (250 words maximum)

Describe the plan to ensure fair collaboration practices for this project in terms of gender and rank (especially with regard to junior faculty), as well as the participation of students and community partners (if relevant). Evidence of the PI’s experience with these practices in previous collaborations should be included, as relevant.

CVs / Biosketches / Other Equivalents (combined in a single pdf)

Provide a version of this document for the PI and any Co-PIs. 

There are no formatting requirements, as practices may vary across disciplines. 

However, applicants are asked to keep the document to a reasonable length. In general, this document should make it evident to reviewers that the PI and any Co-PIs possess the qualifications to carry out the proposed project. 

This document is not required for project team members, but may be included if the information would be important for the reviewers to have (e.g. to understand the source of needed expertise, to support the feasibility of completing the proposed project, etc.)

If multiple CVs/Biosketches/Other equivalents are to be included, they should be combined into a single pdf for upload, with the PI’s document first.

Section VI: Budget

Applicants will enter budget information directly into the application form.

For each budget category in which there are costs, applicants should provide the requested amount, a breakdown/description of the costs, and a justification for why the costs are necessary to complete the proposed project. The budget categories available on the application form are:

  • Staff/Student Personnel
  • Travel
  • Research / Creative Activity Expenses
  • Other Expenses

When preparing the budget, keep in mind the following:

  • Details about allowable expenses are included in these guidelines
  • The maximum award amount is $30,000.
  • Reviewers may elect to provide partial funding to a project. Clear budget information and justifications can help reviewers to determine possible partial funding amounts.

Animal Activities/Human Subject Review

Projects involving animal or human subjects require appropriate review board(s) approval prior to the release of funds. The approvals or waivers will need to reference the applicable funding mechanism. Program staff must receive a copy of this documentation prior to the disbursement of award funds.

Please do not seek IRB/ARC approval for any work to be funded specifically through this grant program until after award notification.

For more information, please refer to the relevant UCLA office:

  • Human Subjects – PIs must determine whether human subjects are involved in their project and if there is the need for Institutional Review Board (IRB) review. For information about submission requirements, available training, and applicable policies and procedures, please refer to the Office of the Human Research Protection Program website. 
  • Animal Activities – Research activities involving animals must receive approval from the Animal Research Committee (ARC)

Initial Screening

Program staff will conduct an initial screen of applications to confirm eligibility and completeness. Applicants will be contacted if there are any questions.


Review Criteria

Project descriptions should be understandable by reviewers from a variety of disciplines.

Each proposal will be evaluated based on the following criteria:

  • Excellence: The proposed project advances excellent and original work within the areas of racial equity and social justice, promoting the university’s commitment to generating new knowledge and new understanding on these issues.
  • Advances Racial Equity and Social Justice: The proposed activities will advance ongoing and/or emerging work within the areas of racial equity and social justice.
  • Alignment with RTC: The proposal makes a compelling case for how the project will advance the goals of the Rising to the Challenge initiative. 
  • Relevance and Intellectual Impact: The proposed project has relevance and impact within and potentially beyond its given field. Examples of this include (but are not limited to): expanding or deepening current understanding within a given field(s); producing or exploring new data; using existing data or studies in an innovative way; challenging conventional approaches or understandings within an established body of work or discipline.
  • Increasing Public Awareness/Broader Impacts: The proposed project increases public awareness of racial equity and social justice at UCLA. Public awareness can encompass a range of broader impacts. Examples of broader impacts include (but are not limited to): broadening participation of under-represented groups; increasing public knowledge about social justice and/or the study of Black life; providing previously unavailable opportunities to engage with research related to the study of racial equity and social justice..
  • Feasibility: The proposed activities are feasible when weighing factors like the requested budget, the timeline, the methodology used, and the qualifications of the lead PI, Co-PI(s), and Co-Investigators.
  • Potential for Extramural Support: The proposed activities would position the team to pursue extramural funding, as well as to continue with further scholarship in this area.
  • Fair Collaboration Plan: The proposal includes a well-defined plan for fair collaboration practices.

Program Preferences

Preference will be given to projects with one or more of the following attributes:

  • Involves a multi-rank faculty team
  • Project team includes UCLA students
  • PI/Project has not received previous funding through RSJ or other ORCA mechanisms.

For questions about the Racial and Social Justice Seed Grants, please email orcafunding@conet.ucla.edu