Public Service Endowment Grant (PSEG) Application Directions

[Link to downloadable rfp]

The Public Service Endowment Grants (PSEG) are intended to enhance the mission of UMass Amherst as a Carnegie-classified "Engaged Research University."  Proposals should focus on collaborative partnerships and interactions with the off-campus community (or communities) and related scholarship for the mutual exchange, exploration, and application of knowledge and resources. Projects that will lead to competitive proposals for sponsored research will be given the highest priority. The use of this non-renewable "seed" money should leverage campus and community resources to solve a problem or build capacity. Projects should create opportunity for sustained effort after PSEG funding is expended.  

        Simultaneous applications will not be accepted, i.e., investigators can participate on only one proposal in a given year. 

Budget and Uses:

Awards will not exceed $15,000 and typically average $10,000 per project. Projects which request funds for ongoing activities will likely be denied. Funds may be spent in all categories except faculty release time or salary (although staff salary is not disallowed).  Financial or "in-kind" contributions from partners or other external sources are desirable, but not required.  (Proposals will not be denied for lack of co-funding.)

The Form of the Application:

The application package should include the following items: 

  1. Coversheet (link).
  2. Narrative (maximum 4 pages) to include these topics:
    • a.  Background and justification of the problem/need to be addressed
    • b.  A clear statement regarding the community partner(s) engaged with the project: their name(s), role, expertise, and the benefits the partners will gain from the project.
    • c.  A description of the project’s objectives and methods for carrying them out (suitable for a non-specialist).  If relevant, tell how your project is distinct from and/or related to existing projects at UMass with similar goals. 
    • d.  Means of evaluating success of the project for both the faculty member and the community partner.
    • e.  Specific plans for proposals and sources of sponsorship after the funds are expended.  Indicate how the project will be sustained after the PSEG funding.
  3. Budget and justification of budget categories
  4. Curriculum vitae of PI(s), short version (2 pages maximum each)
  5. Letter of collaboration from the community partner(s), or someone in the community regarding the project. The letter should state specifically the partner's willingness to participate and should tell what makes the project viable from the community's point of view.  (Guidelines for letters of collaboration--as distinct from general letters of support, which are not appropriate here--can be found at this link).

Proposals written by non-faculty employees must be accompanied by a letter of support from their unit (institute, center, etc) supervisor or department head at the time of submission.

Review Mechanism:

A review committee will be appointed by the Vice Chancellor for Research and Engagement for recommendations on the evaluation of the applications. The members of the review committee will have a demonstrable record of research and engagement at the University of Massachusetts and represent the major areas from where applications have been submitted. The criteria which will be used to judge the applications, in no particular order, are as follows:

  1. The utility of the project. Is the project devised from a community-identified need?  Does the project bring university expertise to an identified community need, problem, or opportunity. How important is its impact?
  2. The feasibility of the project. How likely are the participants to achieve the project's stated goals? Are the applicants equipped to acoomplish what they propose?
  3. The benefit to the campus of the collaborative relationship with the community to be engaged in the project, both short and long term.
  4. Budget justifications. Is the budget appropriate given the objectives of the project? Have all items been justified? Is there alternative funding for this project?
  5. (optionally) Leveraging of campus funding.

Submission Instructions:

Combine all five components of the application in one pdf file. 

Name the file with <your last name _PSEG2015> 
(for example, Pearson_PSEG2015.pdf); and 

Send it via email to bpearson@research.umass.edu by 5pm on the day of the deadline. 

Only electronic submissions will be accepted.

To send the signed coversheet, please use one of these two alternatives:

  1. scan the signed document and insert it into the pdf; or
  2. include an unsigned coversheet in the pdf, with a note saying that the hard copy is being sent separately.  Send the hard copy to The Office of Research Development, Arnold House 2nd floor to arrive before the judging, which will take place in the week following the deadline.  

Applications without signed coversheets will not be reviewed.  

Please let us know if it is a hardship to prepare the file electronically and if alternate arrangements need to be made.

FAQs

Q: Is there a limit to how long the funds will be available?
A:  In principle, the funds should be expended within the fiscal year following the grant (July 1, year1 to June 30, year2).  If there is a reason to extend them beyond that period, a small explanation should be included in the budget justification.

Q:  Can I apply for a PSEG if I have already received one?
A:  There is no restriction on repeat applications.  However, the applicant should be demonstrate that the project (even if it's in the same venue) is substantially different from the one that was previously funded.

Q: Does the final application have to be a single document?
A: It is much more convenient for the judges to have a single document for each submission.  If this represents a hardship, please contact the PSEG administrator, bpearson@research.umass.edu  

Q:  Should I attach letters of collaboration from the community partner?
A:  Yes.  In past years, such letters were not allowed, but the PSEG committee has reconsidered the question and feels that the importance of the partner to the project warrants including a letter for them.  Please see note above, #5 in "The form of the application" about the nature of those letters.  They should be short, as in this example.  (Insert your own details in the sections marked with <  >)

To the Evaluation Committee:  
I am the <director> of the <4H middle school chapter in Orange MA>.  Our organization is looking forward to working with <Professor Benjamin Franklin> on his project entitled <Citizen Science for Geckos>.  We are prepared to make our <facilities> available to Prof. Jones on <such and such> schedule for him to work with our <Middle School students enrolled in our afterschool program> <approximate number>.  This project will significantly expand the quantity and quality of our programming for these students.  Sincerely, <Thomas Jefferson>
 

(This is just an example, not a required template.)

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