Table of Contents

I. Application Deadline
II. Notice of Funding Opportunity
III. Application Guidance and Example Work Plan
V. Frequently Asked Questions
VI. Technical Assistance

This competition focuses on engaging communities in conversations about their civic health using participatory research approaches to facilitate civic engagement and strengthen community capacity to address local issues, both of which are central to CNCS’s mission.

CNCS has a strong belief in the importance of scholarly research to conduct credible and meaningful research on national service, volunteering, civic engagement, and social capital. Through research grants, CNCS’s Office of Research and Evaluation (ORE) engages a broad community of academic and applied researchers in this effort. ORE also supports the use of multifaceted research approaches and introduces cutting-edge research methods and designs into their studies.

Moreover, ORE is also working on how to make research meaningful and useful not only for researchers but for local communities so that communities can use this knowledge to strengthen civic infrastructure and tackle community identified concerns. Participatory research is one type of cutting-edge field research that ORE is supporting to gain a local perspective and make research more relevant to the needs of the community.

CNCS is seeking applications from institutions of higher education that work with and in local communities to use a participatory research approach to:

  • actively engage residents and other local stakeholders in a research process,
  • identify a local issue of concern to the community,
  • understand what may facilitate or hinder participation to address the issue, and
  • create a collaborative action plan to increase civic engagement and build relationships to tackle the community-identified issue.

Eligible Applicants

This competition is only open to accredited institutions of higher education. The institution of higher education (the legal applicant for this competition) will submit an application from a “Program Director” (i.e., Principal Investigator).

Activites to be Funded

Activities to be funded through this competition include:

  • supporting academics, applied researchers, and other university staff, such as graduate students, working with and in communities;
  • creating and establishing a research team, training a research team to engage in the research process, and project meetings;
  • using a participatory research approach to actively engage residents and other local stakeholders in a research process to identify a local issue and understand the factors that facilitate or hinder community participation in tackling the issue;
  • developing a community-driven action plan that includes and incorporates the perspective and feedback from local stakeholders to tackle a community issue;
  • making presentations or developing material to report results such as reports, or other publications such as journal articles and briefs, and creating other culturally appropriate material such as videos, podcasts, performances, etc.;
  • implementing an action plan to tackle a community identified issue and examining outcomes of the participatory research project in terms of  project goals, skill-building, strengthening networks, community engagement and other relevant outcomes; and,
  • building networks and relationships with organizations, institutions, and decision makers to strengthen civic infrastructure and tackle the community-identified issue.

Although not required, applicants may consider incorporating national service into some aspect of the project design including, but not limited to: being part of the research team, serving as an audience to hear from the research team about the study findings, and participating as partners in an action plan to tackle a community issue. 

Funding Priorities

CNCS seeks to support participatory research in three types of communities, with equal priority:

  • Communities that are already working collaboratively to tackle a locally identified issue. This includes groups of people such as residents, local stakeholders, organizations or other institutions that are already working collectively toward a common goal or issue.
  • Communities that have experienced a disaster. This includes communities that have experienced a natural or manmade disaster and are in a recovery phase.
  • Communities in social crisis. This includes communities that are experiencing a type of social crisis e.g., persistent poverty, rising unemployment, and increasing opioid use.

Application Deadline

A Letter of Intent should be submitted by Monday, March 26, 2018 at 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time. A Letter of Intent is not required for this competition, but is strongly encouraged. Please refer to the Notice for instructions.

Applications are due Tuesday, April 10, 2018 by 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time.

Notice of Funding Opportunity  (PDF)
Application Guidance and Example Work Plan  (PDF) 
Frequent Asked Questions (PDF) (March 25, 2018)
Frequently Asked Questions (PDF) (April 6, 2018)

Technical Assistance

A Technical Assistance call will be held on Thursday, March 22, 2018 at 2:00 pm Eastern Time. The call will provide a general overview of the Funding Opportunity and allow time for questions from potential applicants.

The call-in number is 888-566-6179, and you must enter passcode 3714468. 

Please review the Notice of Funding Opportunity and Application Guidance prior to joining the call.

All calls will be recorded and the instant-replay plus information number for this call is 800-365-2419.

Further information

CFDA number
Contact Email