Rapid Response Grants Program 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic and the global movement to eradicate racism have dramatically demonstrated that the challenges we face as a community are widely shared around the world: global is local and local is global. The coronavirus pandemic has affected nearly all the systems upon which we depend—health care, employment, food security, environment and more—and demonstrated that these issues are interconnected.

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) offer a globally recognized and holistic framework promoting peace and prosperity for people and the planet. Many of the 17 SDGs are currently under threat including No Poverty, Zero Hunger, Good Health and Well Being, and Reduced Inequalities among others. Working with our communities and our state to meet these shared goals is an urgent priority.

The Global Programs and Strategy Alliance (GPS Alliance) is pleased to announce, as part of its systemwide initiative focused on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), a new rapid response grant competition. Grants will support current faculty, academic staff, and graduate students to use the SDGs as a framework to help address the many challenges that are arising locally and globally.

The UMN SDG Initiative seeks to support, promote and identify research, teaching and partnerships linked to the SDGs through grants, information and opportunities for connection and partnerships. The GPS Alliance is partnering with the Office for Public Engagement on the public engagement and community partnership aspects of this initiative.

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Description of Award

The GPS Alliance calls for proposals from UMN faculty, academic staff, and graduate students to support SDG-framed small projects or pilot efforts during summer 2020. These small grants of up to $5,000 will support work including:

  • Perishable data collection: The COVID-19 global pandemic, as well as the global movement to eradicate racism, present urgent research opportunities.
  • Seed grants/pilot projects: Small grants can serve to launch a new SDG research project by faculty, researchers or graduate students.
  • Redirecting research: Critical, new research areas related to the COVID-19 and recovery/adaptation or shifting international SDG research to Minnesota-based work.


Current masters and doctoral degree students, faculty, and academic 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 in our communities both locally and globally, and also how it will contribute to at least one SDG either locally or globally including, if possible, linking to specific SDG targets and indicators.

Following COVID-19 Guidelines

Awardees need to follow all the 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 in 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.


Completed applications are due to the Global Programs and Strategy Alliance on a rolling basis until all funds are awarded. Awards will be announced as selected.

Selection Criteria

Proposals will be evaluated on the basis of the following criteria:

  • SDG focus of the project or research plan
  • Interdisciplinary nature of the proposed project or research plan and the ways in which it contributes to the advancement of SDG scholarship and local and global needs
  • Where appropriate, evidence of partnership with community organizations
  • Intellectual merit, cohesiveness, and feasibility of the project proposal or research plan and the clarity with which it is conveyed to a non-specialist
  • Fit with grant competition priorities: perishable data collection, seed grant/pilot projects, and/or redirecting research.
  • Soundness of the budget request
  • For graduate student applicants: Academic record and strength of faculty advisor letter of support

Application Materials

Applications for the Sustainable Development Goal Rapid Response Grants will be accepted until all the funds are awarded. Grant applications must be submitted through the application form here.

Application Form: Complete the application form at https://z.umn.edu/SDGGrants.

Project Proposal: The project proposal section of the application form describes the research and scholarly interest of the project and includes:

  • Objectives and expected outcomes of the project (100 words max)
  • Justification and link to SDG and known need, interdisciplinarity (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 in the community you are hoping to support
  • Methods (500 words max)
  • Acknowledgement that you will apply or have applied for the University’s Institutional Research Board (IRB) approval for proposed activities (if required)

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

  • Budget Proposal: Complete the budget proposal form available at https://z.umn.edu/SDGBudget. Please include the full budget for your project, even if it exceeds the maximum amount of funds that can be awarded.
  • Biosketch: A biosketch of 3 pages max must be submitted via the application form as well.
  • Academic Transcript: A current academic transcript for graduate students (may be unofficial) must be submitted.
  • Letter of Support: Graduate student applicants must provide a (no more than one page) letter from your academic adviser that consists of a brief statement indicating advisor approval of the proposed project and confirmation that the student applicant is in good standing in their academic program.

Grant Requirements

Release of funds is contingent upon appropriate Institutional Research Board 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.