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2021 Catalyst and Seed Awards Program RFP


The CHS Seed and Catalyst Awards program offers and administers competitive funding for faculty-driven research and scholarship. The College is the intellectual heart of VCU. Our research and scholarship address an array of technological, health-related and societal problems, as well as providing profound insights and reflections of what it means to be human. Research and scholarship are also an integral part of the education of our students.

The Seed and Catalyst Awards provide funding to support all forms of scholarship. Please read the descriptions carefully, as they are revised in response to the current environment.

Award Information

Catalyst Awards

The CHS has a strong history of developing innovative interdisciplinary programs. With this call, we look for the next generation of innovation. These awards provide funding of up to $25,000 to catalyze innovative, cross-disciplinary, high-impact projects. Proposals must include developing, fostering, and sustaining, cross-disciplinary collaborations designed to lead to innovative approaches and solutions for addressing pressing societal and scientific concerns. Catalyst proposals must include the following:

  1. at least two faculty from different disciplines
  2. plans for scholarly collaboration AND for development and implementation of curriculum in that area (e.g., development of a certificate, co-taught course on a theme, adding REAL experiences to existing courses)
  3. an explanation of how the efforts will be sustained after the funding is exhausted
  4. a description of the role of each of the faculty participants

Seed Awards

These awards provide funding of up to $5,000 to encourage faculty to broaden the scope of their scholarly endeavors and/or bring projects to completion. The funds are intended to enable innovative projects that advance one's field and scholarly development. Eligible projects might include, but are not limited to: travel to archives or field sites, collection of pilot data and preparation of book manuscripts for publication. Proposals should identify the anticipated tangible product of the scholarly effort (e.g., book or other creative/scholarly work, grant proposal, etc.), describe the project in language understandable by a broad audience and highlight the importance of the award in their career development. With the goal of mitigating the negative impact COVID has had on progress towards promotion, funding priority for Seed will be given to proposals from early career faculty without access to significant startup funds and to faculty at the associate level seeking to advance to full professor.

Estimated Number of Awards

Up to $200,000 will be devoted to funding these awards. The Seed/Catalyst balance of funding will be determined by the quality of the applications in each area. Given the uncertainty around COVID and the scope of Catalyst Awards, the award period will be for two years. Start date is flexible and may depend upon the goals of the project.


All full-time faculty in CHS regardless of rank or tenure status are eligible to apply.

Budget/Allowable Costs

Allowable costs include small equipment, supplies, printing, publishing, travel to research sites, graduate/undergraduate student support, participant payments, course release and summer salary (must be critical to the ability to complete the project). Only direct costs are paid. Please contact the associate dean for research and operations for questions about budgeting course release and summer salary. Chairs/directors must sign off on application if course release is proposed.


Please keep in mind that not all reviewers will be experts in every proposed field of study, and thus project descriptions should be written for a broad audience.

Proposal Narrative

Three pages maximum, including title, abstract and project description. 

The project description must address how the proposed activities are consistent with the goals of the program. The description should include sufficient detail such that reviewers can evaluate the appropriateness and feasibility of the proposed plan. The narrative should describe the proposed scholarly activity in a concise manner.

  • Abstract (concisely convey, in lay terms, the nature of the project and its significance - 250 words maximum)
  • Introduction/Background
  • Specific Aims
  • Significance and Impact
  • Plan to Achieve Aims

References Cited/Bibliography

Use the citation format that is appropriate for your field. No page maximum, but limit it to highly relevant citations.

Budget and Justification

Please submit a detailed account of the expenses associated with the planned proposal with written justification. Two-page maximum.

  1. Personnel: For each person employed under the grant, describe the activities they will perform, the estimated number of hours to be worked, the hourly rate of pay and the total estimated cost of each assistant
  2. Travel: List estimated airfare, lodging, meals and incidental expenses as well as the approximate dates of travel and number of days of research (economy class flights only are allowed)
  3. Supplies: Please itemize supplies in separate subcategories, such as books, materials, recordings, tools, chemicals, reagents, etc.
  4. Equipment: Justify any equipment you need for the project, and estimate its cost
  5. Other: Describe and estimate the cost of any additional research or scholarship activities to be supported by the grant with an indication of how you arrived at the estimate


  • Biosketch/CV
  • Current or pending funding information (if not provided on biosketch/CV)

Proposal Submission

Font should be Arial, at a size of 11 or larger. Margins, in all directions, must be at least 1”. The entire package should be uploaded as one PDF file.