2021 SDG Research Grants


In Spring 2021 the UMN SDG Initiative launched a second round of research grants as a next step in its efforts to support and promote the SDGs. The 2021 SDG Research Grants Program awarded up to $20,000 to faculty and research staff to support SDG-aligned projects. 

In August 2021, the UMN SDG Initiative announced the awarding of approximately $120,000 to seven research projects that align with the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, the University’s strategic priorities, and needs identified by communities. The awarded projects include teams from two UMN campuses, seven departments and six colleges. In total,10 SDGs are represented across the seven projects. Read more abut the projects.

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Current faculty, academic and research staff from academic units throughout the University of Minnesota system are eligible. Grant proposals should clearly demonstrate how the project will both advance known needs locally and globally, and also how it will contribute to at least one SDG including, if possible, linking to specific SDG targets and indicators.  

Awardees need to follow all the COVID-19 guidelines and safety protocols in place at the University of Minnesota throughout project implementation.  This includes but is not limited to complying with any restrictions on travel, on-campus or community work, and following any stay at home orders, personal protective equipment requirements, social distancing, and training procedures to assure personal safety.

Selection Criteria

Proposals will be evaluated by an interdisciplinary committee on the basis of the following criteria:

  • SDG focus of the project or research plan
    • Provide an explanation of which SDG(s) the project addresses and how the work contributes to the advancement of SDG scholarship and local or global needs related to these SDGs.
  • Intellectual merit, cohesiveness, and feasibility of the project proposal or research plan and the clarity with which it is conveyed to a non-specialist
  • Interdisciplinary nature of the proposed project or research plan
    • As the SDGs offer an integrative framework, proposals that demonstrate interdisciplinarity in methods and/or conceptual frameworks will be prioritized for funding.
  • Where appropriate, evidence of external partnerships
    • External partnerships are not required; however, if such partnerships are integral to the project please provide evidence of partner engagement with the project.
  • Soundness of the budget request

Application Process

The application deadline for the SDG Research Grants deadline has passed. 

Application Form

Apply using the online application form

Project Proposal

The project proposal section of the application form describes the research and scholarly focus of the project and includes:

  • Project abstract (150 words max)
  • Objectives and expected outcomes of the project (500 words max)
  • Justification and link to SDG and known local and/or global need (500 words max)
    • Outline of proposed activities clearly demonstrating the intellectual merit, interdisciplinary nature, and connection to the SDGs
    • Likely impact of the project on SDG related needs (local and/or global)
  • Interdisciplinary scope of project (500 words max)
  • External partnerships (where applicable - 500 words max)
  • Methods (500 words max)
  • Future funding strategy (250 words max)
  • Acknowledgement that you will apply or have applied for the University’s Institutional Research Board (IRB) approval for proposed activities (if required) and any travel registration or exception processes have been followed

Supplemental Documents

The components listed below must be submitted via the application form as well.

  • Budget Proposal: Complete the budget proposal form. Please include the full budget for your project, even if it exceeds the maximum amount of funds that can be awarded.
  • Biosketch: A PI biosketch of no more than 2 pages must be submitted via the application form. Projects may include multiple co-PIs, but a single PI must be identified to receive the grant funds. 
  • External Partner Letters of Support: Letters of support from external research partners including universities, community organizations, private sector, or government partners may be included. If the project requires partner support or participation, please include relevant letters of support. Please include a letter (no longer than one page) for each major partner.

Grant Requirements

Release of funds is contingent upon appropriate Institutional Research Board and travel approval (if required) and necessary approval(s) from community partners. Funded work must comply with all University of Minnesota and state of Minnesota policies related to COVID-19 as well as other University of Minnesota researchcommunity engagement, and travel policies. Grant recipients must submit a report consisting of a description of funded scholarly and/or creative activities, how the funded activities advanced progress toward one or more SDGs, and a brief account of how the grant funds were spent, along with a list of other support received. The report should be 2 to 4 pages, double-spaced. Reports should be submitted within two months of the end of the funded activity. We also request photos taken during the activities be submitted as JPEG files along with the report.