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Scholarship Catalyst and Seed Awards Program RFP


The dean’s Scholarship Catalyst and Seed Awards program offers and administers competitive funding for faculty-driven research and scholarship projects. The program is established specifically to foster the development of successful grant proposals and nationally or internationally peer-reviewed scholarly and/or creative works.

The College is the intellectual heart of VCU. Our educational and research environment addresses an array of technological, health-related, and societal problems, as well as providing profound insights and reflections of what it means to be human and humane. Research and scholarly activity is an integral part of the education of our students and a key part of our mission. This program provides funding to support all forms of research and scholarship, with an emphasis on pilot studies that form the basis of an extramural funding application, new research/scholarship directions for established faculty scholars and funds to bring nearly completed projects to fruition.

Award Information

Scholarship Catalyst Awards

These awards provide funding of up to $20,000. They are intended to catalyze the progress of new, potentially high-impact projects. These might include developing innovative, emerging ideas; exploring cross-disciplinary collaborations; or collecting preliminary data. Proposals should identify the program and agency to which a future proposal will be submitted, describe the research project in language understandable to faculty reviewers, and delineate how the funded activity will result in a more competitive extramural funding application.

Scholarship Seed Awards

These awards provide funding of up to $5,000 to encourage faculty to broaden the scope of their scholarly endeavors and bring larger projects to completion. The funds are intended to enable innovative projects that advance one's field and one's own scholarly development. Eligible projects might include, but are not limited to: travel to archives, field sites, or research locations; preparation of book manuscripts and articles for publication; or final analysis of collected data.  Proposals should identify the anticipated tangible product of the scholarly effort (e.g., book or other scholarly work, grant proposal, etc.), describe the research project in language understandable to faculty reviewers, and highlight the importance of the award in their career development.

Estimated Number of Awards

Up to two Catalyst Awards and 12 Seed Awards are expected to be funded. Awards will be effective for twelve calendar months beginning in the fiscal year (July 1).

Cost Match

There is no cost matching associated with this fund.


All full-time CHS employees holding a faculty appointment regardless of rank or tenure status are eligible to apply. Faculty may not simultaneously hold more than one form of College-supported research/scholarly activity funding: PeRQ, Catalyst Awards, Seed Awards or start-up funds.

Budget/Allowable Costs

Allowable costs include small equipment, supplies, printing, publishing, travel to research sites, graduate/undergraduate student support, course buyout (course buyout must be critical to the ability to complete the project and requires letter of support from chair as an appendix item).

Travel to conferences and renovation costs are not allowable. Only direct costs are paid.


Please keep in mind not all reviewers will be experts in every proposed field of study, and thus project descriptions should be written for a broad audience, clearly stating their relevance to the wider CHS community.

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.

Response to Prior Critique (if applicable)

If this application is a revision to a previous submission to this program, detail the major changes in the present proposal. One page maximum. Only one resubmission is allowable.

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
  • Plan and Methodology (explain the need for travel, if it is requested)

Impact Statement

Description of the contribution of the project to the investigator's scholarly trajectory/line of inquiry. Explain how you will disseminate your research findings (this may include exhibition, publication, conference presentations, course materials, etc.). Include specific information on how the award will be leveraged into external support (if appropriate). Provide a clear outline of how you will engage graduate and undergraduate students with your scholarly activities. One page maximum.

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

Using the template provided please submit a detailed account of the expenses associated with the planned proposal with written justification. Two page maximum.

  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Supplies: Please itemize supplies in separate subcategories, such as books, materials, recordings, tools, chemicals, reagents, etc.
  • Equipment: Justify any equipment you need for the project and estimate its cost.
  • Other: Please describe and estimate the cost of any additional research or scholarship activities to be supported by the grant. Please indicate how you arrived at the estimate.


  • Biosketch/CV (up to five page max)
  • Current or pending funding information (if not provided on biosketch/CV)
  • Letters of support are only required if project depends on support from other units or individuals besides the PI or co-PIs.

Proposal Submission

Proposals must be submitted to RAMSPOT by 5:00 pm on the due date. 

Applicant information regarding PI and Co-PI names (specifying contact information for the PI), titles and departments will be entered directly into online submission form. The proposal will be uploaded as a single PDF. 

Applicants are permitted to submit applications to both the Seed and the Catalyst Awards during the same application cycle; however, submissions must be significantly different targeting an alternate scholarly question.

Review and Selection Process

Proposals will be reviewed by a panel of CHS faculty. Key review criteria are:

  1. novelty and significance of the work
  2. potential that award will lead to a tangible product (e.g., published work, successful grant application)
  3. impact on the career trajectory of the applicant


October 15, 2019: Request for Proposals announcement sent to CHS faculty

January 15, 2020: Proposals due no later than 5:00 p.m.

March 15, 2020: On or before, principal investigators notified of award status

July 1, 2020: Award period begins

June 30, 2021: Award period ends

October 15, 2021: Final report due

Reporting Requirements

The principal investigator will be required to report on measurable outcomes of their funding. The report will be due on October 15, 2021. A final report template will be provided. Periodic status updates on the progress of the project may be requested at the discretion of the program administration. Failure to submit in a timely manner a final report on research facilitated by this funding program will preclude the PI from receiving future awards.

Program Contact

Questions regarding this solicitation may be directed to Joshua Langberg, Ph.D., associate dean for research, (804) 827-0860,