REQUEST FOR PROPOSALS
CWP Impact Awards: Enabling Thriving Communities
Columbia World Projects launched the CWP Impact Awards in 2022 to catalyze bold, interdisciplinary projects with unique potential to achieve social impact. The inaugural request for proposals resulted in three awards focused on CWP's Supporting Generations theme.
Columbia World Projects at Columbia Global seeks proposals for the next round of CWP Impact Awards, which support faculty and researchers from across Columbia University who want to address pressing societal challenges with innovative solutions, with the potential to scale and accelerate impact. We seek proposals that involve bold ideas for tackling key challenges that stand in the way of thriving communities. Interventions representing unexplored avenues of thought and action that are currently underserved by existing funding sources will be prioritized.
Priorities for Consideration
CWP works to catalyze innovations and accelerate impact locally and around the world across four themes: Supporting Generations, Renewing Democracy, Building Inclusive Cities, and Enabling Thriving Communities. This opportunity is specifically focused on the Enabling Thriving Communities theme. Proposals are sought that aim to support the well-being and resilience of communities by furthering practices and policies that enable safe conditions for all community members. Example areas of interest related to the Enabling Thriving Communities theme include: peace and reconciliation, mental health, the arts, governance, and civic participation. We welcome other topic areas that fit within the priority theme.
CWP Impact Awards are available at two funding levels:
- Category A: Two to three awards up to $100,000 each will be made for activities to be conducted over a period of up to 24 months.
- Category B: Two to three awards between $100,000 and $250,000 each will be made for activities to be conducted over a period of two to three years.
CWP will consider proposals that meet the following requirements:
- Inclusion of at least two faculty and/or researchers from distinct Columbia units (i.e., schools, departments, institutes, or centers) as part of the project leadership. At least one proposal lead must be eligible to serve as a Principal Investigator per Columbia University guidelines.
- Evidence of partnership and equitable collaborations with partners outside Columbia University (e.g., other universities, government agencies, bilateral agencies, civil society organizations, private sector partners)
- Demonstration of the application of interdisciplinary problem-solving in project design, development, and implementation
- Translation of research, scholarship, and evidence into innovative, practical solutions, policy, or practice
- Demonstration of clear and measurable outputs and outcomes
- Demonstration of engagement with communities or recipients of services
- Inclusion of plans to engage Columbia University undergraduate students, graduate students, and/or postdocs in the project
- Commitment to advancing gender equity and racial justice
CWP will not consider proposals for:
- Projects that are exclusively focused on research or service delivery
- Projects solely focused on training activities, curriculum development, or conducting workshops or convenings
- Projects that do not align with the Enabling Thriving Communities theme
- Sustaining ongoing projects or activities
International Proposals: To enhance the effectiveness and scope of international projects, CWP strongly encourages and will give preference to proposals that actively engage with and utilize the platforms of the Columbia Global Centers or ICAP offices. Collaborating with these entities can be invaluable, as they offer operational and administrative platforms for conducting global research and social impact programmatic activities. Proposals that demonstrate a clear plan for utilizing Columbia Global Centers and/or ICAP offices operationally and/or programmatically will be viewed favorably, particularly those that show how these collaborations will enhance the project’s implementation and impact.
Eligible Global Centers are located in: Amman, Jordan; Athens, Greece; Beijing, China; Istanbul, Turkey; Mumbai, India; Nairobi, Kenya; Paris, France; Rio de Janeiro, Brazil; Santiago, Chile; and Tunis, Tunisia
Eligible ICAP offices are located in: Angola, Burundi, Cameroon, Côte d'Ivoire, Democratic Republic of the Congo, El Salvador, Eswatini, Ethiopia, Georgia, Guatemala, Honduras, Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kyrgyzstan, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Myanmar (Burma), Nigeria, Panama, Philippines, Rwanda, Sierra Leone, South Africa, South Sudan, Tajikistan, Tanzania, Ukraine, and Zambia.
- Local Community: CWP strongly encourages proposals that lead to partnerships and impactful projects in the Harlem, Morningside Heights, and Washington Heights communities, as well as other communities in the United States.
January 11, 2024 (9 - 10 a.m. EST)— Virtual Q&A Session (register here)
- January 22, 2024 — Concepts due (via Submittable platform)
- February 15, 2024 — Invitation for full proposals released
- March 25, 2024 — Full Proposals due (invite-only)
- Late April 2024 — Notice of Award released
As described above, we request that interested applicants submit a project concept by January 22, 2024 (11:59 p.m. EST). Once submitted, concepts will be reviewed and select applicants will be invited–by February 15, 2024–to submit a full proposal. Full proposals will be due on March 25, 2024 (11:59 p.m. EST), with projects expected to launch in June 2024.
Virtual Q&A Session and FAQ:
We strongly encourage individuals considering this opportunity to attend an informational Q&A session on January 11, 2024 from 9 - 10 a.m. EST. The virtual Q&A will address questions about the application process and required documentation. Interested applicants are invited to register here. Participation in the Q&A session is not a requirement for submission of a concept.
Interested applicants are also invited to submit questions to [email protected] during the inquiry period from December 4, 2023, to January 5, 2024. Please note that personalized email responses will not be provided. Instead, responses to frequently asked questions will be published here on January 11, 2024.
Resources for Applicants
This season, Columbia Global is offering five unique opportunities for faculty to secure support and funding for scholarly research and projects that address complex global challenges. Find out if this is the right one for you by referring to the summaries provided here.
Interested applicants are encouraged to review the summary of 2023 Impact Award Recipients.
Concept Submission Instructions:
We are dedicated to ensuring that our application process is as accessible and user-friendly as possible. We understand that a straightforward and inclusive submission process is crucial to encouraging a diverse range of applicants. Our chosen platform, Submittable, is designed to be intuitive and easy to navigate, even for those who may not be tech-savvy. The platform is compatible with various devices, including smartphones and tablets, to accommodate applicants who may not have regular access to a desktop computer. Please note that Submittable is equipped with accessibility features to assist users with disabilities, ensuring that everyone has an equal opportunity to submit an application. These features include screen reader compatibility, keyboard navigation, and adjustable text for those with visual impairments.
Technical Support and How to Receive Application-related Reminders
For applicants who encounter technical difficulties or have questions about the submission process, CWP provides a dedicated support team at [email protected].
To keep applicants informed and on track, we will send out regular reminders about upcoming deadlines and any updates to the application process. To receive these updates, please initiate your concept form via Submittable.
Our evaluation criteria are designed to identify applications that not only align with our mission of enabling thriving communities but also demonstrate innovation, feasibility, and potential for significant impact.
The evaluation of each application will be conducted holistically, taking into consideration a range of factors that contribute to the overall effectiveness and potential success of the project. Our review committee, composed of experts from various fields, will assess each application based on predefined criteria, ensuring consistency and fairness in the evaluation process.
Key criteria include:
1. Alignment with Theme
- How well does the proposal align with the "Enabling Thriving Communities" theme?
2. Feasibility and Project Design
- Feasibility and practicality of the proposed project design and timeline
- Adequacy of resources and methodology to achieve project goals
3. Innovation and Originality
- Degree of innovation and originality in the approach or solution
- Exploration of uncharted avenues and areas underserved by existing funding
4. Interdisciplinary Collaboration
- The extent and quality of interdisciplinary collaboration
- Inclusion of diverse perspectives and expertise from different Columbia units
5. Impact and Scalability
- Potential for sustainable and scalable impact
- Ability to produce tangible, measurable outcomes and benefits to communities
6. Community Engagement and Inclusivity
- Depth of community engagement and beneficiary involvement in the project
- Commitment to advancing gender equity and racial justice
7. Budget Justification and Efficiency
- Appropriateness and efficiency of the proposed budget
- Justification of expenses and cost-effectiveness
8. Student Involvement
- Plans for engaging Columbia University students in meaningful roles associated with the proposed project
Frequently Asked Questions
- Are faculty from all Columbia University schools invited to apply? add
Yes, full-time faculty and research scientists from all Columbia University schools are invited to apply.
- Are associate research scientists eligible to apply? add
Associate Research Scientists may not apply as the sole principal investigator without the approval of the appropriate Chair and Dean (or equivalent officers). Please refer to Columbia University guidelines and processes here.
- Who counts as an instructor? Can a lecturer be considered an “instructor”? add
Please refer to Columbia University’s policy on Principal Investigator eligibility. Please contact your appropriate Chair, Dean, or equivalent officer for questions about specific appointments and exceptions.
- For individuals who need a PI waiver, do we need the response prior to concept submission? add
It is not necessary to have the PI waiver finalized before submission of the concept. However, applicants seeking a waiver should clearly note this in their application.
- Does the second Columbia University project lead need to be full time? add
The second required Columbia University project lead needs to be a full-time faculty, researcher or officer of administration at Columbia University.
- Can I submit a proposal that includes project leadership from the same department, but different divisions or centers (particularly because our department is very large)? add
If your proposal includes project leadership from the same department but different divisions or centers, we encourage you to clearly articulate the interdisciplinary aspects of the project and emphasize the distinct areas of expertise or disciplines represented within the leadership team.
- Can Impact Award funds be used to cover a percentage of Columbia faculty salaries? add
Yes, Impact Award funds can be used to support a portion of Columbia University faculty salaries.
- Do we need to consider Global Centers in our project budgets? add
Applicants are not required to budget for facility and administrative (F&A) costs associated with collaboration with Columbia Global Center(s) or ICAP office(s). However, depending on the scope of the proposed activities, it may be necessary to include direct costs, such as Global Center or ICAP staff time to manage a specific activity.
- Is there a limit to how much of the award can be used for sub-awards to external entities? add
There is no specific limit on the allocation of funding to sub-awards for non-Columbia University entities (e.g., NGOs and non-profit partners). The distribution of resources among personnel, contracts, and other direct costs will vary based on the specific needs and scope of the project.
- Are there any restrictions to proposing the scale-up of an existing project? add
Seeking additional funding for an existing project is not permitted under the CWP Impact Award guidelines. However, this funding is designed to be catalytic, allowing for the expansion of promising initiatives. For instance, if you have completed the initial phase of a project and are ready to scale, this would be considered an allowable use of Impact Award funding (e.g., completing a feasibility study on a promising intervention and using the award to officially pilot and evaluate it).
- Is there a preference for projects in specific geographic locations? add
No, there is no preference for specific geographic locations. However projects that demonstrate a clear plan for utilizing Columbia Global Centers and/or ICAP offices operationally and/or programmatically will be viewed favorably.
- If we are proposing to work in a country where there is no Global Center or ICAP office, can we propose collaborating with the nearest Global Center or ICAP office in the region? add
You can propose collaborating with the nearest Global Center or ICAP office; however, in such cases, we encourage you to submit details of your specific proposed country and desired regional collaboration to [email protected] for clarification regarding the capacity and ability of a particular Global Center or ICAP office to meet the specific need.
- Can you propose collaboration with two separate Global Centers? add
Impact Awards are intended to support Columbia University faculty and researchers leading social impact work. Collaborating with Global Centers during the project design stage–to leverage existing resources, relationships, and networks within the Columbia University community–is encouraged. If your project involves testing an intervention in two or more geographies where Global Centers and/or ICAP offices are located, coordination with multiple centers would be encouraged.
- Can I submit more than one application in response to this request for proposals? add
Eligible faculty/researchers may serve as proposal leads on only one application but may serve as collaborators on additional proposals.
- Can I submit more than one application to concurrent Columbia Global funding opportunities? add
Eligible faculty/researchers may serve as proposal leads for different, concurrent Columbia Global funding opportunities but are discouraged from submitting multiple proposals for the same or very similar project.
- If someone isn’t invited to submit a full proposal for an Impact Award, can that person submit a proposal to the President’s Global Innovation Fund (PGIF)? add
Yes, if you have a project idea that meets the criteria specified in the PGIF RFP, you may submit a proposal. The due date for 2024 PGIF proposals is March 10, 2024.
- How many applications did you receive in response to the last Impact Awards RFP? add
During the inaugural Impact Awards call for proposals, CWP received 75 expressions of interest, and 38 full proposals were submitted across 34 schools, institutes, and departments. Three projects were awarded.
- What thinking went into reducing the amount/increasing the number of awards? add
The evolution of CWP's project identification and funding approach aims to create a balanced portfolio, encompassing both large-scale interventions and proof-of-concept, pilot, and early-stage projects.
- In contrast to last year, could you set up the review process so applicants can receive unfiltered feedback from reviewers? add
We are unable to provide individualized feedback to each applicant due to the volume of applications expected and capacity constraints. While we strive to enhance transparency, the current structure of our review process limits our ability to provide feedback at the individual level.
- If the proposed initiative involves the development or deployment of new technologies, does the concept need to articulate specific plans regarding intellectual property (IP) (e.g., IP sharing, IP rights)? add
At the concept stage, it is not required to articulate specific IP-related plans, such as IP sharing or rights. However, we encourage you to share relevant details regarding IP during the full proposal stage (if invited to advance to this stage).
- I have a different question. add
Please send us an email.