For guidance on maintaining continuity of research and sponsored program activities during the COVID-19 crisis, please see ORSP’s Keep Discovering page.

Achieving Equity Investment Grants 2021

The principles of diversity, equity, and inclusion are central to the University of Mississippi’s mission of transformative teaching, learning, research, and service. The Office of the Provost, the Office of Research and Sponsored Programs (ORSP), and the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement are pleased to announce the Achieving Equity Grants 2021 competition. First introduced in 2019, this seed grant program will continue to support innovative scholarly and creative efforts at UM that advance knowledge on topics of diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Information on past Achieving Equity Grant awards will be be shared in a news story following this solicitation. These award topics do not limit the scope of this solicitation; rather, responsive ideas from any discipline(s) will be considered, with the highest emphasis being placed on proposals that center around equity. While equity has been defined in different ways, we will adopt the definition provided by the Independent Sector for the purposes of this solicitation:

Equity is the fair treatment, access, opportunity, and advancement for all people, while at the same time striving to identify and eliminate barriers that have prevented the full participation of some groups. Improving equity involves increasing justice and fairness within the procedures and processes of institutions or systems, as well as in their distribution of resources. Tackling equity issues requires an understanding of the root causes of outcome disparities within our society.  

Vision and Impact

The most competitive proposals will position the project in the context of challenges common to the University of Mississippi, the state of Mississippi, and beyond. Ideally, the knowledge gained from these projects will explore and broaden our understanding on issues of equity/inequity in institutions, academia, and/or broader society within and across academic disciplines. Examples of relevant topics include, but are not limited to: gender equity and gender equity in STEM; immigration and immigration policy; reproductive rights; access and opportunity in education; access to healthcare; the social function of engineering; social movements; campus and workplace climate; voting rights and voting suppression. In order to maximize the impact of this important work, consideration should be given to how this internally-funded seed project can lead to larger externally-funded initiatives. ORSP is committed to working with the investigators to seek the level of external funding required to expand these seed projects into highly impactful programs.

Funding and Duration

The Provost’s Office has allocated $50,000 for this year’s competition. Funds will be distributed through internal Investment Grants managed by the ORSP Division of Research Development. No transmittal will be required, nor will facilities and administrative (indirect or overhead) costs apply—all allocated funds are to be used on direct project costs only.

We expect to fund several projects with activity periods of 6 months to 2 years, and with budgets between $1,000 and $10,000.  Within this range, each investigator/team should ask for as much as (and no more than) they need (and can clearly justify) to complete a research project that will lay the groundwork for a larger, possibly externally-sponsored, follow-on project. Projects outside of this suggested budget range may be considered, but will be more heavily scrutinized, relative to their demonstrated potential for leveraging large external funding mechanisms or achieving extraordinary impacts.

Funds can be requested for all of the usual grant categories; however, due to the limited funds available, requests for salaries/wages of faculty/staff-level investigators are not expected or encouraged; where included, such requests should be strongly justified in terms of their necessity for completing the project. We welcome proposed preliminary projects that can be completed entirely within the research portion of investigator/team members’ regular 9-month or 12-month appointments.

Letter of Intent (LOI) Instructions and Format

The LOI will allow us to identify and enlist appropriate reviewers to help evaluate your proposal. Please provide the following information, as a good faith estimate of what you intend to propose; if necessary, some details can be changed in the actual proposal.

Project Title

Keywords:  Up to four words or short phrases [may be used to help find reviewers]

Contact Principal Investigator (PI): Name, Title, and Depart. of UM individual to lead the project. For proposals involving multiple investigators, the Contact PI will be the point of contact for communication with the project team, administering funds on behalf of the team, and submitting reports for the team.

Co-Investigators (Co-PIs) (optional): Name, Title, and Dept. of any additional investigators (UM faculty or staff) to play significant roles on the project.

Other Significant Collaborators (optional): Name, Title, and Dept. of any additional participants with specific roles on the project.

Project Overview: Up to 250 words describing the activities you intend to propose for the investment grant, including any short-term (1-3 years) outcomes anticipated

External Funding Target (optional): Up to 100 words listing the sponsor(s) and/or funding opportunities to be targeted for follow-on funding (if any)

Estimated Budget: Approximate total budget

Proposal Instructions and Format

Project Title

Keywords:  Up to four words or short phrases

Contact Principal Investigator: Name, Title, and Department

Co-Investigators and Significant Collaborators (optional, 1 page): Name, Title, and Dept of any additional investigators or other participants who will play significant roles.

Project Summary: NSF-style project summary (1 page)

Project Description: Up to 10 pages describing: the knowledge gap or problem to be addressed (goal); how it fits within topics related to diversity, equity, and/or inclusion (relevance); the rationale or unique approach to be taken; the objectives to be achieved during the preliminary project period[1]; the activities proposed to meet those objectives; a timeline; the roles of the Investigators and Collaborators (and expertise to perform those roles); an assessment plan (if appropriate); and a summary of the intellectual merit and anticipated broader impacts.

Follow-On Project Vision: Up to 5 pages charting a course for how this project should lead to a follow-on project to advance knowledge on a larger scale and have a greater impact. How will the preliminary project set the stage for a successful follow-on project? If the follow-on project requires additional funding, include the plan for obtaining that funding. For example, if an external grant will be pursued, identify the sponsor(s) and/or funding opportunities to be targeted, and give the rationale, plan, and timeline for leveraging the preliminary project into a competitive proposal for that opportunity.

Detailed Budget: Use ORSP Achieving Equity Budget template from Web announcement[2]

Budget Justification: Narrative justification of budget (1 page)

Biographical Sketch(es): For each Investigator and Significant Collaborator, using either NSF format[3] or NIH format[4]. If neither NSF nor NIH are agencies you are likely to seek funding from, you may substitute a more appropriate format for your discipline.

Collaborators & Other Affiliations Statement(s): Investigators & named collaborators (NSF format)[5]. The purpose of this document is to help identify non-conflicted reviewers, and should be completed to as reasonable a degree as is practical for this competition.

References: References cited in proposal (no page limit)

Review Criteria

Relevance: How well does the proposed project fit within the scope of this grant?

Intellectual Merit: What is the potential of the project to advance knowledge and scholarship within the scope of this grant, resulting in peer-reviewed publications, presentations at national scholarly conferences, or other scholarly outcomes for the investigator/team?

Impacts: Beyond the creation of scholarship and the advancement of knowledge, how will the preliminary and eventual follow-on projects contribute to the betterment of the University of Mississippi, other universities or communities, the State of Mississippi, the Nation, or the World? Examples may include, but need not be limited to, the broader impacts articulated by the National Science Foundation[6].

External Funding Target: For proposals where an anticipated follow-on project involves an external funding proposal, has the investigator/team identified a credible sponsor/funding opportunity related to this work? Does the application make it clear that the investigator/team has a strong understanding of what is required to be successful in pursuing that opportunity? How appropriate is that funding target for the type of work being proposed? What is the likelihood that funding this project will lead to a competitive proposal in response to one or more of such opportunities? For proposals with large budgets, does the external funding potential justify the size of the investment?

Soundness of Plan: How well-considered is the plan to conduct the project? How specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound are the objectives? Have enough specifics been provided to convince the reviewer that there the investigator/team will be able to complete the project and achieve the objectives? Is there a realistic timeline?

Qualifications, Resources, and Environment: How qualified is the investigator/team to conduct the proposed study? Has the team established knowledge of what has been published in this area previously? Does the investigator/team have a history of published scholarship on this topic? How adequate are the available resources to conduct the study?


10/7/2020       Competition Announced

10/14/2020     Diversity Grants Information Session[7]

12/15/2020     Required Letters of Intent due via InfoReady Review Portal[8]

02/16/2021     Application due via InfoReady Review Portal

March 2021    Award decisions announced

April 2021       Grant accounts created and funded

04/01/2021     Earliest anticipated project start date

08/15/2021     Latest Allowable Project Start Date

05/30/2022     Latest due date for mid-term project report

05/30/2022     Latest due date for final project report

Review Process: In consultation with the Division of Diversity and Community Engagement, ORSP Research Development may enlist internal and external reviewers with expertise in the topics and targeted funding opportunities to help assess merit of the proposed projects. The confidentiality review process will be protected, and all involved in the review process will be required to disclose conflicts of interest and certify their understanding of confidentiality expectations in reviewing proposals.[9]

Resources and Questions: ORSP maintains a subscription to PIVOT[10], available to UM faculty, staff, & students, to search for funding opportunities or scholars by topic. ORSP maintains a number of curated funding opportunity lists in PIVOT, including at least one list related this opportunity[11]. Research Insight[12] is a funding and collaborator search tool accessible by central and distributed research administrators/developers on behalf of researchers they support.

Direct questions on proposal preparation, competition/review process, or resources to support proposal development to Jason Hale, Director of Research Development:

2020 Awardees

This is the second funding solicitation under this program. Due to their merit and modest budgets, we were able to award Achieving Equity Grants to all four applications submitted to the inaugural 2020 solicitation[13]. These projects will get started as COVID-19-mitigating restrictions on human-subjects research are relaxed or accommodated.

[13] 2020 (last year’s) Solicitation: