The University of Massachusetts Amherst

Institute of Diversity Sciences Seed Grants 2021

Request for Proposals

Application deadline: March 1, 2021, 11:59PM ET

The context: Advancing Equity through STEM Research

The Institute of Diversity Sciences is a multidisciplinary unit that brings together faculty and students from UMass Amherst and the Five Colleges to promote science, engineering, and technology research that advances equity, social impact, and the success of diverse students in STEM. Faculty and students in our Institute use STEM to promote equity in health, learning, and work and to mitigate the impact of climate change on communities.

Research on diversity and equity resides in many departments, schools, and colleges across UMass Amherst (College of Social & Behavioral Sciences, College of Natural Sciences, College of Education, School of Public Health and Health Sciences, College of Engineering, College of Information & Computer Sciences, School of Management, College of Nursing, College of Humanities & Fine Arts), but these pockets of research have often been isolated from each other. The mission of the Institute of Diversity Sciences (IDS) is to bring together faculty and students whose research targets equity concerns from multiple intellectual angles in order to foster integrative, interdisciplinary, and innovative directions for future scholarship, teaching, and societal impact.

Request for seed grant proposals

This seed grant mechanism is one important way to achieve this goal by (1) encouraging new multidisciplinary research collaborations on equity-inspired research among faculty and students from different units on campus that can be later leveraged to seek larger external research grants; (2) offering opportunities for mentored research experience for graduate and undergraduate students interested in STEM research that advances equity in ways that cut across traditional disciplinary boundaries; and (3) encouraging research teams to consider social impact goals.

The Institute of Diversity Sciences announces its faculty research funding opportunity. In 2021, the institute will distribute up to $30,000 in seed project funds to teams who apply through a formal RFP mechanism. Funds will go toward supporting new collaborative projects between colleagues from different departments at UMass. Ideal projects will focus on cross-disciplinary research, involve graduate or undergraduate students in that research (i.e., include an educational component), and have an eye toward social impact.

Grants will range from $5,000 to $12,000. Funds may be used to pay for personnel, equipment, supplies, data collection costs, consultants, compensation of community partners, etc.

For previous seed grant awardee teams, see:


  1. Team proposals must ensure that the topic of the project is related to advancing equity. The proposal should make an explicit case for how the proposed work fits this theme and, if relevant, the themes of diversities and disparities in health, learning, work, or climate change.
  2. Project team members must come from at least two different disciplinary backgrounds and departments at UMass, and ideally (but not required) from different colleges/schools on campus. Team members may also include Five College faculty and community partners. The emphasis of the project should be on building multidisciplinary connections. Both new teams of individuals who have not collaborated previously as well as pre-existing teams that have had prior collaborations are eligible for this seed grant, as long as the proposed project is new and not funded by another source.
  3. The PI must be a faculty member at UMass Amherst; graduate students, postdocs, faculty at the Five Colleges, and community members may be co-PIs.
  4. Proposed projects may involve new data collection or secondary analyses of existing datasets.

Priority will be given to:

  1. Projects that will be leveraged toward external grant applications. Proposals should provide details of the planned grant submission (e.g., name(s) of agency/foundation, timeline, and RFP/program announcement).
  2. Projects that involve graduate students and/or undergraduate students and thereby provide hands-on student training.
  3. Projects that include a social impact goal.

Project Timeline

Up to 18 months starting in Spring 2021. Teams may request a 6-month no cost extension if necessary.


Application Instructions

Proposals must include the follow two documents:

  • A cover page (item #1)
  • A PDF or word file with the proposal, budget, biosketch, references, and supplementary materials (items #2-6).

1. Cover Page – Fill out this form (see link to PDF below) and save as “IDS Seed Grant Cover Page – Last Name.” Submit with the document covering items #2-6.

  • Title of proposed project
  • List team members, position, department, institution, campus address, email, phone number, mobile phone, role in project (PI or Co-PI).
  • Agreement of co-PIs to reporting and other provisions

2. Project Proposal (5 single-spaced pages, 12-point standard font, 1-inch margins)

  • Overview of the project including specific aims, how it fits the “equity-inspired research” content theme and, if relevant, the subthemes of health, learning & work, and/or climate change; and how it fosters multidisciplinary connections.
  • Significance
  • Research methodology
  • Expected outcomes of the work, with a brief description of plans and potential for future funding.  E.g., explain how the proposed collaboration will move toward applying for an external grant. Specific details of the planned grant submission should be included (e.g., name(s) of agency/foundation, RFP/program announcement, deadlines).
  • Involvement of graduate and/or undergraduate students in ways that advance their education and training.
  • Social impact component of this project. Does the project involve community partners? Will the results of this project be shared with the community to impact their lives?

3. Budget and budget justification

  • $5,000 - $12,000 (not included in the page limit)

4. Biosketch in NIH or NSF style (not included in page limit)

5. References (not included in the page limit)

6. Supplementary Materials if relevant (not included in the page limit)

  • Appendices if applicable
  • Letters of Support if applicable

To submit: Create a one or two pdf files of all application materials (you can merge the fillable pdf with your pdf if you like, or send them separately). Submit application to us by email as Submission deadline: Mar 1, 2021, 11:59PM ET.


Review Criteria

  • Clearly stated goals and an emphasis on equity
  • Intellectual merit of the proposal
  • Feasibility of project
  • Potential of the project to stimulate future collaborative research that is sustainable and competitive for external funding
  • Addresses the priority areas noted in RFP description above (equity, along with multidisciplinarity, social impact, and student training)
  • Reasonableness of budget

Please be advised that we may request points of clarification or revisions to the proposal before deciding on awards.

Reporting and other provisions

Awardees of an IDS seed grant will provide an annual report, and a final report (about 18 months after the award date). Awardees will be invited to give an oral presentation about their proposed project at one of the group meetings of the institute. If the project funded by the IDS seed grant is used by the PI team to attract future external grants, the PI team agrees to contribute one-third of the PI portion of the Indirect Cost (IDC) Return from those future grants to the Institute (i.e., 1/3 of 10% IDC typically returned to the PI upon securing the grant will be forwarded to the Institute). This contribution will be used to sustain future seed grant funding and support future teams. When applying for future external funding that leverages work funded the Institute's seed grant, please name the Institute in the electronic internal processing form (e-IPF) in Kuali and indicate the portion of IDC return that will be returned to the Institute. Please also send a copy of the e-IPF to Leyla Keough for record-keeping.

For questions please contact:

Leyla Keough-Hameed, Ph.D., Program Manager, Institute of Diversity Sciences,