Faculty & Staff Funding

Public Issue Network Grants

NOTE: Applicants from the Cornell SC Johnson College of Business, College of Human Ecology, College of Architecture, Art and Planning and the School of Industrial and Labor Relations should apply for funding directly through their college, unless they are part of a cross-college project. See more about OEI’s engaged college initiative and related block grants.

All across Cornell, students, faculty, staff, community partners and alumni are dedicated to addressing public issues and creating social change. But Cornell is a big place, and people from different colleges, disciplines, programs and groups could be working on the same public issues and not even know it.

Like many other kinds of social change efforts, community-engaged learning operates on the principle that we can do more together than alone; that we need to learn from different others in order to improve conditions and find solutions.

This grant is an effort to help us move beyond silos and work better together, to broaden the networks of people working on issues of shared concern so that we can coordinate and expand our resources and deepen our impacts, becoming better partners to our communities and more effective agents of change.


These grants support students, faculty, staff, community partners, alumni and other stakeholders who are creating or expanding networks of people and programs to collaborate around a shared issue of public concern. The grants can fund activities to:

  • Raise awareness and visibility about the issue and university-community work being done to address it.
  • Increase positive impact on communities around the issue being addressed.
  • Deepen and broaden university-community partnerships to better approach community issues in an interdisciplinary way.
  • Increase student participation in community-engaged learning related to the issue — through both curricular and co-curricular activities. Proposals that foster collaboration between academic and student affairs’ (Student Campus Life-based) units are encouraged.


There are two levels of funding:

  • Seed Support: Up to $5,000 to be used over 1-3 years to identify interested parties and map the network, as well as to develop new collaborations around a shared issue of concern OR
  • Network Support: Up to $30K to be used over 1-3 years to support the expansion and impact of an existing network working on a shared issue of public concern


Teams should include Cornell faculty and/or staff*, Cornell student*, and community partner stakeholder groups.

*Exception: Applicants from the College of Architecture, Art and Planning; College of Human Ecology; Cornell SC Johnson College of Business; or the School of Industrial and Labor Relations should apply for funding directly through their college. If you are from one of these colleges, and are co-leading a cross-college project, please email Anna Sims Bartel to discuss your application.

Cornell affiliate organizations, community-based coalitions and alumni may be eligible to apply as part of the leadership team and should consult with Anna Sims Bartel to discuss ideas.

Expectations and Deliverables

  • Funded teams will design a process for healthy collaboration among their team and new collaborators (e.g., setting goals and intentions, exploring common interests, creating shared decision-making processes, welcoming new/diverse voices to the team)
  • Funded teams will publicly share their collaborative work (e.g., through posts on OEI’s Ripple Effect blog, on a website managed by the team, in a “town hall” or other public forum, public network map)
  • Teams will submit annual report on their network growth, activities, evaluations of impact, use of funds, and future plans for the network


Application Process and Timeline

Call for Proposals
Aug. 2021
Letter of Intent (LOI) Deadline
Nov. 1, 2021
LOI Feedback Sent to Teams
By Nov. 19, 2021
Application Deadline
Jan. 10, 2022
Notification of Awards Early Feb. 2022


Teams must submit a Letter of Intent (LOI) and consult with the Office of Engagement Initiatives before applying. The LOI process is intended to support applicants in developing strong and compelling proposals.

The LOI should be submitted online and include:

  • project title;
  • team membership, including community partners;
  • level of funding being sought (seed or network);
  • public issue the team is addressing;
  • narrative describing what the team will do with the funding; what the team plans to accomplish together; what groups/organizations the team plans to collaborate with; and how the team will assess impact; and
  • letters of support from collaborators

The full application will open after the LOI due date.


Funding for this is flexible, depending on the needs of the team, but there are a few unallowable expenses:

  • overhead and indirect costs (IDC);
  • tuition;
  • capital projects;
  • faculty or staff salaries;
  • post-graduation wages or travel costs for students.

Selection Criteria

Office of Engagement Initiatives staff and leadership will review proposals, with selections being made by applying the following criteria, as appropriate:

  • Potential to increase opportunities for Cornell undergraduates to participate in community-engaged learning or deepen their commitment to community-engaged learning
  • Clear articulation of public issue or interest that the network will address
  • Potential of network to involve multiple stakeholder groups, including faculty/staff, students, community partners, and/or alumni. Letters of support from collaborators are especially valuable.
  • Feasibility of planned network activities and appropriate fund allocation.
  • Strategies for working together across stakeholder groups, and for assessing the growth of the network and the impact of its activities.