Frequently Asked Questions

Eligibility

How is principal investigator defined for the purposes of this grant?


I am an adjunct professor. Can I serve as the principal investigator?

I am a postdoc. Can I serve as the principal investigator?


What is a “unit”?


Can my student group apply as a VCU partner?


What defines a Richmond-area community organization?


My community organization is not located in the Richmond Metropolitan Statistical Area. Should I still apply?  


We received a grant in 2012, and are still carrying out the activities. Can we apply for additional funds this cycle?


We applied for grant previously, but did not receive one. Can we apply again?


What is the funding period?

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Merit

We would like to form a partnership between three departments in the School of Medicine. Will that be competitive?

What is a community-engaged scholarship plan?


What should be included in the community partner’s letter of commitment?

What does a good grant look like? (video answer)

How do academics and community partners write grants together? (video answer)

What do you do when you don't expect the partnership to be sustained? (video answer)

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Budget

Are indirect costs allowable?


Is salary support allowable?

Are conference travel expenses allowable?

What are matching funds?


My unit receives state funding, which we would like to apply as a match. Can I do that?


Are the community partners allowed to directly receive award funding?  


What is the budget modification procedure?  


The community partner needs $8,000 to carry out their activities in relation to our project. How do I account for that in the budget?


Three departments are partnering for our project. Which department will get the award?


Will you give some tips for creating a budget? (video answer)

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Application Procedures

How do we apply?


When is the grant application deadline?


What is the late policy for grant application submissions?


Can we submit more than one proposal?


Do I need to get permission from my dean/director/division head to submit a proposal?

I cannot get signed letters of commitment until three days after the deadline. Can we still submit our application?

How many Community Engagement Grant proposals do you receive each year?


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Award Decisions

Who decides which projects will be funded?


When will we hear a decision on our proposal?


Our project was chosen as a finalist. How do we prepare for the interview?


Our project was not awarded a Community Engagement Grant. Will we receive the reviewers’ comments?


How many awards are made each year?


How much money will be awarded for a single project?

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Grantee Requirements

So, we received a Community Engagement Grant. Now what?

We would like to reallocate some funds to a different category. How do we do that?

We have been unable to complete our planned recruitment in time, and therefore our project implementation has been delayed. Can we request a no cost extension?
 


What is the final report format?

What format and page settings should I use when preparing the narrative?

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Additional Questions

I have more questions. Will there be information sessions about this grant opportunity?

Who can we contact with inquiries?

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Eligibility

How is principal investigator defined for the purposes of this grant?

 


The principal investigator (PI) is defined as the full-time faculty or staff member from VCU or VCUHS who:

  1. takes final responsibility for the conduct of community-engaged research or other activity described in the proposal and
  2. holds fiduciary responsibility for the award management.

Only the PI serves as the main contact for all correspondence with the Division for Community Engagement regarding grant management and is identified as the PI in the human or animal subjects protocol.
 
Other VCU members of the team can be considered co-principal investigators, collaborators, partners, etc.
 

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I am an adjunct professor. Can I serve as the principal investigator?

 


No.


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I am a postdoc. Can I serve as the principal investigator?

 


No.
 


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What is a “unit”?

 


A VCU or VCUHS “unit” is an academic or academic support unit. An academic unit includes centers and institutes, academic and research programs, departments and schools. Examples of academic support units are VCU Athletics, Libraries and Facilities Management.



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Can my student group apply as a VCU partner?

 


Student groups (e.g. organizations, clubs) may participate in these activities, however students may not serve as principal investigators. Student groups must therefore be sponsored by a VCU faculty or staff member and his/her unit.



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What defines a Richmond-area community organization?

 


Any number of organizations or public entities that serve Greater Richmond meet this definition. For example, community partners may be a government agency, community or nonprofit organization, school or an affiliate of a local membership organization. The Greater Richmond Area is defined as the independent cities, counties, unincorporated towns and unincorporated communities included in the Richmond Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA).



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My community organization is not located in the Richmond Metropolitan Statistical Area. Should I still apply?  
 


Preference is given to partnerships within the Richmond Metropolitan Statistical Area (MSA). If the community partner is located outside of the MSA, provide a description on how the proposed project will be maintained after the funding period.
 


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We received a grant in 2012, and are still carrying out the activities. Can we apply for additional funds this cycle?

 


One goal of the Community Engagement Grants is to support new initiatives. If your partners are the same but you are proposing a new idea and project, you may apply for another Community Engagement Grant. Your proposal should demonstrate that this current initiative is not an expansion of the old project but rather a new enterprise that can strengthen disciplinary opportunities.



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We applied for grant previously, but did not receive one. Can we apply again?

 


Yes. 



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What is the funding period?

 


The funding period will begin July 1, 2016 until June 30, 2017. All activities must be completed within 12 months of the receipt of funding.

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Merit

We would like to form a partnership between three departments in the School of Medicine. Will that be competitive?

 


This is allowable. However, the most competitive projects will effectively maximize VCU collaborations in partnership with community organizations to address community-identified needs. When appropriate to address the need, these VCU collaborations should be interdisciplinary and cross-campus.



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What is a community-engaged scholarship plan?
 


The community-engaged scholarship (CES) plan describes the timeline and specific activities to develop CES. VCU defines CES as the creation and dissemination of knowledge and creative expression in furtherance of the mission and goals of the university and in collaboration with the community. CES addresses community needs through research, teaching and service in a mutually beneficial partnership. The quality and impact of CES are determined by academic peers and community partners. Some examples include a co-authored article, an art installation, a conference presentation or a video. 



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What should be included in the community partner’s letter of commitment?

 


A letter of commitment shows that the community organization believes a project is needed and worthwhile and that the partner is willing to be actively involved in its implementation. Therefore, the letter should verify the community-identified need, verify that there will be a mutually-beneficial exchange with VCU, define the partner’s role(s) in the project and explain the expected benefit to the organization’s stakeholders.
 
A letter of commitment should address specific types of commitment such as expert staff, space, equipment, food, or access to a population. It should also be on letterhead, signed, and dated.

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What does a good grant look like?

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How do academics and community partners write grants together?

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What do you do when you don't expect the partnership to be sustained?

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Budget

Are indirect costs allowable?

 


Indirect costs are not allowed. All funds must meet E&G state fund policy requirements. 

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Is salary support allowable?

Yes, funds may be used to support salary, but limited to 40% of the overall approved budget.

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Are conference travel expenses allowable?

No. Funds may be used towards conference registration though.  

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What are matching funds?

 


Matching funds come from revenue sources other than other than an individual’s own private monies. In-kind matches are contributions or assistance in a form other than money, such as equipment, materials or services of recognized value.
 


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My unit receives state funding, which we would like to apply as a match. Can I do that?

 


Yes, but you must be very clear in the budget justification about the source and proper allocation of the match. Consult your fiscal administrator.



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Are the community partners allowed to directly receive award funding?  
 


All funds are transferred directly to the PI’s academic unit. 



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What is the budget modification procedure?  
 


Budget modifications are allowed when the change supports the project goal. All modifications over $500 require approval. To submit for approval, e-mail Audrey Trussell at atrussell@vcu.edu with your budget modification and justification describing how it relates to your project goal. All budget modifications must be documented in the final expenditure report.



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The community partner needs $8,000 to carry out their activities in relation to our project. How do I account for that in the budget?
 


These grants are intended to be one-time expenditures necessary for the project to be sustained, such as funds for professional development or to purchase medical kits that will be the property of the community organization. Consult your fiscal administrator for the specific mechanism(s) that will best suit your needs.
 


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Three departments are partnering for our project. Which department will get the award?

 


There will only be one transfer of funds. The Division of Community Engagement assumes that the principal investigator’s unit will serve as the department administrating the funds unless otherwise indicated on the application. Make this decision before submitting the proposal. 

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Will you give some tips for creating a budget?

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Application Procedures

How do we apply?
 


Please see the RFP guidance documents for each grant here.

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When is the grant application deadline?

 


Application packages are to be submitted via email in February of each year. 

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What is the late policy for grant application submissions?
 


Incomplete applications or those submitted after the deadline will not be reviewed. Please carefully review the checklist of the guidance to plan for a timely and complete submission.  



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Can we submit more than one proposal?
 


Yes, but keep in mind that you will be responsible for full implementation of your proposal; therefore, multiple submissions may be ambitious.



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Do I need to get permission from my dean/director/division head to submit a proposal?

 


Yes. The principal investigator’s dean/director/division head must sign the cover sheet.
 


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I cannot get signed letters of commitment until three days after the deadline. Can we still submit our application package?

 


Applications are considered incomplete if they do not include all necessary components, including signed letters of commitment and signed coversheets. Incomplete applications or those submitted after the deadline will not be reviewed.


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How many Community Engagement Grant proposals do you receive each year?

 


The Grants and Gifts Committee typically reviews 20 to 25 proposals each grant cycle.

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Award Decisions

Who decides which projects will be funded?

 


The Grants and Gifts Committee, composed of representatives from across VCU, will review and score all submissions and make funding recommendations to the vice provost for the Division of Community Engagement.
 


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When will we hear a decision on our proposal?
 


The first round of decision letters will be sent via email to the PI in late March 2016. Applicants will be notified via e-mail if their proposal was selected as a finalist, and instructions for finalists’ interviews will be included. Finalist interviews will be held in April 2016. Follow the timeline. 



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Our project was chosen as a finalist. How do we prepare for the interview?

 


The finalist notification letter will include both general and specific questions about your project that you should address. It will be sent at least one week before the scheduled interview. VCU and community partners are expected to attend the interview, which will last about 20 minutes.

 Decisions about which projects will ultimately receive the Community Engagement Grants will be made approximately one week after the interviews. PIs in the finalist group will receive a decision letter by e-mail.
 


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Our project was not awarded a Community Engagement Grant. Will we receive the reviewers’ comments?

 


Comments regarding your proposal will be sent soon after the review period ends.
 

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How many awards are made each year?

 


Previously six to eight Community Engagement Grants have been awarded each year. See Previously Funded Projects for more information.

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How much money will be awarded for a single project?

Because this is intended to be seed money to implement the best community engagement projects, proposals may request up to $20,000 for the Community Engagement Grants and $10,000 for the CEnR Partnership Development grants. Proposals should request only the amount of funds they actually require to be implemented. If a proposal is funded, it may be for more or less than the amount requested at the discretion of the review committee and the availability of funds.

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Grantee Requirements

So, we received a Community Engagement Grant. Now what?


  1. Alert the fiscal administrator of the home department that the project will be awarded. Funding will be transferred to the home department responsible for fund disbursement and reporting activities.
  2. Upon receiving notice of the award, it is critical that you start the process to secure IRB or IACUC approval if needed. Also, the review committee may recommend that members of the funded team participate in additional training, such as an evaluation workshop, during the award period.

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We would like to reallocate some funds to a different category. How do we do that?
 


Minor adjustments to the budget (less than $500) are allowed at your discretion without getting permission from the Division of Community Engagement. It is important that all funds contribute to the project and, when there have been changes, you will be expected to note that in your final expenditure report. See the Budget section above for more information.  
 


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We have been unable to complete our planned recruitment in time, and therefore our project implementation has been delayed. Can we request a no cost extension?
 


No cost extensions are considered on a case-by-case basis.
 


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What is the final report format?

 


The final report is online and will be made available to grantees. There is a five-page limit on the narrative section.

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What format and page settings should I use when preparing the narrative?

Please use one inch margins all around, Times New Roman font, size 12, double spaced.

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Additional Questions

I have more questions. Will there be information sessions about this grant opportunity?

 


Yes. Individuals from VCU and the Greater Richmond community who are interested in the Community Engagement Grants are invited to the following information sessions. Members of the Grants and Gifts Committee will be on hand to discuss the grant and answer questions.

  • Thursday, December 3, 2015 12-1 p.m. at Larrick Student Center, Jackson Ward Room A
  • Wednesday, December 16, 2015 12-1 p.m. at VCU ASPiRE, Room 1004F/G
  • Tuesday, January 12, 2016 12-1 p.m. - Location TBA.
  • Wednesday, January 20, 2016 12- 1 p.m. at Larrick Student Center, Jackson Ward Room A

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Who can we contact with inquiries?
 


All questions regarding CCE grants should be directed to Tracey Gendron, Grants and Gifts Committee chair, at tlgendro@vcu.edu.

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