The Research Development Office (RDO) and the Obermann Center within the University of Iowa Office of the Vice President for Research (OVPR) seek proposals for one-year OVPR Community Engaged Scholars (Arts, Humanities, and Social Sciences [AHSS]) proposals. The goal is for university/community teams to find productive approaches to solving problems the faculty and partner both deem significant. In FY22, it is anticipated that there will be 10 OVPR Community Engaged Scholars (AHSS) awards through the Seeding Excellence Initiative (SEI).

The deadline for the Seeding Excellence: OVPR Community Engaged Scholars grant is July 1, 2022. 

Seeding Excellence Initiative – OVPR Community Engaged Scholars (AHSS)

SEI, a two-year initiative, aims to sustain the continued growth of the campus research enterprise by providing competitive pilot funding in four strategic areas. The OVPR Community Engaged Scholars program (AHSS), one of SEI’s four strategic areas, will invest in the success of the University’s efforts to partner with Iowa’s communities for sustained research and scholarship collaborations. SEI is made possible through funding to RDO from the public-private partnership (P3) Year 1 funding cycle.


Seeding Excellence Initiative—OVPR Community Engaged Scholars

SEI, a two-year initiative, aims to sustain the continued growth of the campus research enterprise by providing competitive pilot funding in four strategic areas. The OVPR Community Engaged Scholars program (AHSS), one of SEI’s four strategic areas, will invest in the success of the University’s efforts to partner with Iowa’s communities for sustained research and scholarship collaborations. SEI is made possible through funding to RDO from the public-private partnership (P3) Year 1 funding cycle.


OVPR Community Engaged Scholars (AHSS) Overview

We invite pairs of UI faculty and community partners to apply for grants of up to $5,000. This funding will support projects in which a UI faculty member and a community partner collaborate on a publicly engaged, research-based project in the arts, humanities, or social sciences. The goal is for these teams to find productive approaches to solving problems the faculty and partner both deem significant. Our hope is that these teams will address research questions of value to the faculty member’s discipline(s) while also offering concrete benefit to the public partner’s community. The partners may propose a project that launches a new collaboration or enhances an existing collaboration. In either case, the work should be completed within a year of receiving the grant award.

This is an opportunity for artists, scholars, and researchers to team up with community partners to experiment with co-designed projects on a more contained local scale. The grant offers partners a means to address a specific research question focused on a need or opportunity in Iowa. In so doing, the partners can explore what methods or approaches best support publicly engaged arts and scholarship projects that are collaboratively designed, deeply reciprocal, and attentive to the ongoing process of collaboration as well as to impact and outcomes. Very specifically, we seek proposals in which the two or more collaborators have talked frankly about the ways they will balance the needs of the two partners and formed a plan for meeting those needs. Artists and scholars who work in higher education are rewarded for creating and sharing new knowledge that impacts their disciplines. Community partners need outcomes that concretely benefit the communities they serve. Projects that connect those two objectives, landing on research questions and proposed outcomes that advance the goals of each partner, will hit that sweet spot.

The application asks partners to make the case for how their proposed project, process, and hoped for impact and outcomes move past outreach to mutually beneficial engagement. What can the partners do together that neither can accomplish alone? The projects should be driven by a shared research question that requires the expertise of both of the partners. However, the outcomes can be varied. Please note that we warmly welcome applications not only from new collaborators, but also from collaborators who are already working together. In that case, the proposal should be very specific about the ways the funded work builds upon or expands the existing collaboration. As the examples above suggest, proposals should be equally clear about the ways the project will move the work of the artist or scholar forward and provide a specific outcome with genuine benefit to the partner organization and the community it serves.

For a thorough and thoughtful approach to Collaborative, Reciprocal, and Redistributive Models of Research, see these two excellent videos produced by the Mellon-funded Humanities Without Walls Consortium. The Obermann Center is a member of this consortium.

If you have questions regarding project fit, please contact Teresa Mangum, Director of the Obermann Center at with your question or to arrange a meeting. For project examples, consider projects recently undertaken by campus and community partners.

Access the grant's description and application portal.



Proposals should be co-designed and co-submitted by at least two partners, one from the University of Iowa and the other from a partner organization.

  • University team leaders must be UI faculty (tenure-track, clinical track, research track, instructional track) or staff members for whom research and scholarship are assigned as one of their primary job responsibilities and have at least a 50% university appointment.
    • Do the artists, scholars, or researchers have the required qualifications, accomplishments, and track record to accomplish the proposed work? 
    • The award is open to artists and scholars from all disciplines, but we are especially interested in supporting faculty from disciplines that value publicly engaged research on a local scale. 
  • Community partners should have expertise in the proposed area and ideally would also bring experiential knowledge to the project.
    • Does the community partner have the expertise and capacity to participate in the project?
  • Existing partnerships are eligible and valued, but the research and scholarships should offer a new direction or add a significant dimension to previous or ongoing work in which the collaborators are involved.
  • Projects must be within Iowa.
  • Priority will be given to applicants that have not received funding from any source of P3 funds.



This program provides up to $5,000 in direct costs for a one-year period from the date of the award and should reinforce the collaborative nature of the project.

• Faculty salary is not allowed. 

• Staff and student salaries are allowed (with the advance approval of the supervisor). 

• Honoraria and consulting fees for community partners are allowed. 

• Community engagement events and associated costs are allowed. 

• Travel is allowed it directly relates to the conduct of research or for convening meetings.


Review Process & Criteria

Proposals will be peer reviewed by artists, scholars, engagement professionals, and community partners with experience in community engaged arts, research, and scholarship. 


  • Is the research question that focuses the project clearly explained?
  • Does the proposed project have the potential for significant community and scholarly impact? 
  • Are the methods, measures, and overall approach well-articulated and viable? Are they grounded in community engaged arts, research, and scholarship literature and best practices?
  • How is the team insuring against unintentional harm in partnerships with historically excluded groups?
  • All other things being equal, we welcome the opportunity to support projects that engage historically excluded groups, early career faculty, and/or students. Does the project include any of these participants? How so?

Community Engagement and Partners 

  • How are you as partners defining “engagement”? 
  • How are you consciously building reciprocity and a focus on mutual benefit into your work plan?
  • Are the roles of each partner clearly defined? 
  • Is this a new partnership or a new direction for the investigators and the community partners? 


  • Can the project be completed in a year’s time? 
    • If so, what will be its long-term benefits? 
    • If not, how will the work be completed after the grant period?
  • Does the project offer possible opportunities for additional engagement after the project is completed? 

Reporting Requirements 

  • We will seek a final project report that shares artistic, research, and scholarly advances and beneficial outcomes to the community served by the partner at the end of the project.
  • Brief annual reports for three years following the award are required, which will only ask about the continued engagement, benefits occurring after project completion, and publications/presentations.
  • We will also ask for the project leaders’ advice about how best to structure future grant opportunities on this local scale.


Application Deadline

Proposals are due on the OVPR's portal by July 1, 2022. 


For example, consider projects recently undertaken by campus and community partners:

People working at a table

Planning a conference or event that serves both communities

“The Role of Transformative Education in Successful Reentry” included academics, professionals in the incarceration field, and individuals ending a period of incarceration. A meeting focused on team science in early childhood development brought together early childhood educators, UI childhood researchers, and UI neurologists to identify shared research interests and plan the roles that the teachers and faculty members might play in the research going forward. 

man being interviewed for documentary film

Projects that activate historical archives and other materials

 UI History faculty member Steve Warren and his students collaborated with the Brucemore House to research and prepare an exhibit on the Douglas Starch Factory Fire of 1919. Library Science Professor UI graduate student Aiden Bettine collected oral histories in collaboration with LGBTQ communities, resulting in the LGBTQ Iowa Archives and Library


Developing an ongoing partnership with and for specialists in a given profession

 UI library science professor Lyndsay Mattock developed a partnership with rural libraries with few resources. UI Professor Teresa Mangum designed an experiential learning class about the ways we use and represent animals in the arts compared with the ways we treat them in our communities in collaboration with the Iowa City Animal Shelter. Their collaborative research led to a co-created documentary that captured human/animal relationships during the 2008 flood.

The National Humanities Alliance has a searchable database, Humanities for All, of nearly 2,000 engaged projects in the humanities to suggest the diversity of approaches.

How to Apply

To apply, log in to the OVPR Community Engaged Scholars (AHSS) submission portal with your HawkID and password. Contact or with submission portal questions. Applications following the format described below are due by July 1, 2022 at 5pm.  

Supervisor Approval

This form should be signed by both applicants’ supervisors to indicate support for the application. The form also asks that you ensure that requested payments are permitted (for example to university staff).

A narrative of up to three pages (single-spaced in 12-point font) 

Note: The faculty member and community partner should develop the proposal together. The project should make clear that this is a co-designed, mutually beneficial project that will lead both to valuable approaches to problems or untapped opportunities and to a concrete outcome for both partners and their communities. The two audiences served, then, might be a disciplinary community and a local Iowa community.

  • PURPOSE What is the research question the project will explore? Why does this question matter now and how does it matter to both the artist/scholar/researcher and to the community served by the partner?
  • EXPERTISE What expertise will each partner bring to this project? Why are you the right people to undertake this project?
  • PROCESS Applicants should explain their community engagement process. How have you identified community needs for this project proposal? Is this a long term relationship between a faculty member and community partner, or is the work proposing a new collaboration? If this a new partnership, what steps have been taken to begin building relationships between the partners?
  • RECIPROCITY The concepts of reciprocity and mutual benefit are the hallmark of community engagement. Applicants should clearly explain how they are committing to a reciprocal engagement process where community partners are equitably involved in the project, and how the partners expect to provide mutual benefit to all stakeholders. 

OUTCOMES The identified outcomes need to benefit both the faculty member and the partner. The faculty member needs to disseminate their discoveries in a format that will further their progress in their careers (article, digital project, work of art, grant 

  • proposal) and the community partner needs to receive a tangible benefit for the organization and the communities they serve.  Please be specific about ways the outcomes of the project should do both.

A budget (use budget template) and justification

Note—that reciprocity will be evident in the way the budget is allocated. What uses of the funds will benefit both partners and organizations?

  • Clarify how much, up to $5,000, you are requesting and for what purposes.
  • How will you use the funds?
  • Will the partner organization receive funding?

CV/Resume of partners

Please include a 2-page CV or resume for each partner.

P3 Symposium

Awardees of the SEI programs shall expect to participate in future P3 Symposiums, which will highlight the outcomes associated with the UI’s P3 funding mechanism.