Table of Contents

I.   Application Deadline
II.  Notice of Funding Availability
III. Application Instructions
IV.  Frequency Asked Questions (as of July 11, 2017)
V. Technical Assistance | Please note -  the date and call number information for the Technical Assistance call has been updated. See information below.

The mission of CNCS is to improve lives, strengthen communities, and foster civic engagement through service and volunteering.  Through AmeriCorps, Senior Corps, and the Volunteer Generation Fund, CNCS has helped to engage millions of citizens in meeting community and national challenges through service and volunteer action.

CNCS has a strong belief in the importance of scholarly research in order to identify effective strategies for national service and increase the evidence-base for its programs, as well as to increase the nation’s understanding and knowledge about the importance and potential of strengthening civic infrastructure and increasing civic engagement in America.  In order to conduct credible and meaningful research, CNCS is engaging the broader community of academic researchers involved in studying civic infrastructure and civic engagement and related concepts.

CNCS’s Office of Research and Evaluation (ORE) is seeking applications that build on existing research in the field, address gaps in knowledge, and provide new ideas and methodological approaches to the study of civic infrastructure, civic engagement, volunteering, national service, and other related concepts such as social capital.

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).

Funding Categories

CNCS anticipates funding projects in two categories: Dissertation and Scholars. Program Directors will designate themselves as fitting into one of the two categories.  Legal applicants can submit more than one application from Program Directors to either category, though to the extent possible, CNCS seeks to fund a diverse pool of applicants and it is likely only one application per legal applicant will be funded. Generally, applications from one category (i.e., Dissertator) will not be compared against those in the other category (i.e., Scholars).

Dissertation Category targets research that may support doctoral dissertations. The Dissertator must have completed their Ph.D. coursework and passed qualifying exams and achieved All But Dissertation (ABD) status by October 1, 2017. The dissertator’s advisor will be the primary Program Director (i.e., Principal Investigator) and the Dissertator will be the co-Program Director (i.e., Co-Principal Investigator).  Legal applicants (i.e., Institution of Higher Education) must select one or more Program Director(s) (i.e., Principal Investigator) who will actually be conducting the research on behalf of the legal applicant, although the institution of higher education will be responsible for meeting the performance objectives and other agreed upon criteria set forth in the Cooperative Agreement. Award amounts for Dissertators are expected to be lower than in the Scholars Category. 

Scholar Category targets established academics, researchers, and postdoctoral researchers, with a proven track record and standing in their respective fields. The legal applicants must select one or more established academics, researchers, and postdoctoral researchers who will actually be doing the research on behalf of the legal applicant, although the institution of higher education will be responsible for meeting the performance objectives and other agreed upon criteria set forth in the Cooperative Agreement.  Research studies are expected to be of larger scope and higher award amounts than those submitted to the Dissertation Category.  These larger studies are expected to include a team of researchers including a graduate student(s) and substantial primary or secondary data collection.

Activities to be Funded

  • Research including instrument development, data collection, analysis and reporting
  • Dissemination of results, including reports, publications, and presentations
  • Collaboration with practitioners and policymakers to apply and use results from research findings to support their work with communities, volunteers and/or national service participants

Funding Priorities

CNCS seeks to support research in three broad areas of equal priority.

1) How are civic infrastructure and civic engagement defined, measured, developed and hindered?

CNCS is soliciting innovative qualitative, quantitative, and mixed methods research studies that can explore how civic infrastructure and civic engagement, and related concepts, such as social cohesion and social capital, are defined, measured, developed or hindered at the community and neighborhood level. These studies can be conceptual as well as empirical ORE is particularly interested in studies that use participatory research with community residents and stakeholders in local communities.

2)  How does an individual’s civic engagement change over the course of a lifetime?

CNCS is seeking qualitative, quantitative or multimethod research that can explore motivations for becoming engaged, types of civic engagement either informal, formal or both, and outcomes of civic engagement over the life course. 

3)  What are the impacts associated with civic engagement, volunteering, or national service?

CNCS is interested in studies that address outcomes associated with civic engagement, volunteering, and national service for individuals, families and communities.  Though exploratory studies will receive consideration, CNCS prefers projects in this priority area that are confirmatory and testing hypotheses that can provide causal evidence. We are also interested in Return on Investment or Cost-Benefit studies.

Application Deadline:

A Letter of Intent is due June 9, 2017 no later than 5:00 pm EST.  A Letter of Intent is not required for this competition, but strongly ecouraged. Please refer to the Notice for instructions.

Applications are due July 11, 2017, no later than 5:00 pm EST.

Notice of Funding Availability (PDF) Amended | June 23, 2017
Application Instructions (PDF)
Frequency Asked Questions | last updated | July 11, 2017

Technical Assistance


A Technical Assistance call will be held on June 1, 2017 at 1 pm ET. The call will provide a general overview of the Funding Availability and allow time for questions from potential applicants. 

The call-in number is 888-946-7304, and you must enter passcode 2652544. Note: you will be asked to review the Notice of Funding Availability and Application Instructions prior to joining the call.

All calls will be recorded, and the replay number for the call is: 888-566-0041. The replay will be available following the call, through July 12, 2017.

Further information

CFDA number
Contact Email