Request for Proposals: 2018 Research Funding

The RI-EIRN is currently soliciting proposals from any and all research-practitioner partnerships looking to expand the state’s knowledge of best practices around personalized learning in Rhode Island.

We will be offering up to two grants of $20,000 each to research-practitioner partnerships who best address the following questions:

  1. What is the question you are looking to answer through this research?
  2. How is that question immediately relevant and helpful to Rhode Island educators?
  3. Why have you chosen this question in particular?
  4. Who are the members the research team, including the practitioners*?
  5. How will each team member contribute to the work?
  6. What is the research project plan and how will you ensure that the work is able to be completed and showcased within six months of commencement?
  7. What data are needed to complete this research project? Of those data, what are already available to you? Of the data that aren’t yet accessible, how will you go about gathering or getting access to those data?
  8. What is the line-item budget for this research, including a narrative (as needed) of how grant funds would be spent down? *If this grant would be just a component of the funding for a given research project, please note that as well, including sources of additional dollars.

Download the full RFP here >>

Proposals are due back to by March 15, 2018.

How to Submit

Contact Kelsey Baxter for additional questions and to submit Letters of Intent and Full Proposals

Contact Kelsey

General Funding Cycle for 2018

Funding for 2018 has not yet been determined.  Check back soon or join our mailing list for funding updates.

Scholar Support

Scholars funded by The Collaborative are supported throughout the duration of their research. Our editorial team works with scholars to translate research into concise, readable research briefs for a wide audience  Our design team supports scholars in creating rich data visualizations and interactive reports that can easily be shared via print, web, media and social channels. Scholars funded by The Collaborative also receive project management assistance in addition to editorial and design support. 

Research Themes

Research themes and accompanying questions have been identified through consensus by a Panel of Policy Leaders appointed by: Governor Gina Raimondo, Senate President M. Teresa Paiva Weed, and the Speaker of the House Nicholas A. Mattiello. Multiple projects will be funded. 

  • Impact of Federal Spending 
  • Infrastructure & Transportation 
  • Regional Collaboration 
  • Energy 
  • Engineering 
  • Criminal Justice 
  • Manufacturing/Advanced Manufacturing 
  • Demographic Trends in Rhode Island: The Impact on Business Investments and the Economy 

(Detailed questions for each of these topic areas to follow)

Research Types

Researchers should situate their proposals within the following categories. Creative, collaborative approaches by interdisciplinary teams are encouraged. Researchers are encouraged to discuss their ideas with Amber Caulkins, Director of The Collaborative, prior to submitting letters of intent. Researchers may also submit more than one letter or intent.

COLLABORATIVE RESEARCH TEAMS – Funding Levels: Up to $50,000

These teams provide interdisciplinary, cross-institutional research with an emphasis on exploring one or more research questions in an original way. Each research project will utilize existing data or develop new data collection efforts to solve complex challenges in Rhode Island. Collaborative Research Teams should include two to ten scholars, ideally from separate institutions. Priority will be given to researchers who illustrate a creative approach to addressing complex challenges that incorporates an interdisciplinary approach. Teams will be supported in knowledge synthesis and will receive project management assistance. Members of Collaborative Research Teams will participate in planning workshops that include practitioners and policymakers. Researchers who have never participated in interdisciplinary research, but are interested in applying, will be supported by The Collaborative’s team.

To participate in a research team:

  • Apply as part of an already established research team (or contact The Collaborative to identify additional team members)
  • Apply individually and be selected as part of a team of experts. Researchers who apply individually will be asked to illustrate their expertise and potential contribution as part of a team.
  • Researchers interested in applying for a Collaborative Research Team grant are highly encouraged to attend a Thematic Working Group Meeting on May 9 or May 16.

DESCRIPTIVE ANALYSIS – Funding Levels: $2,000 - $6,000

A Descriptive Analysis research project provides an overview of existing data and discusses implications for policy leaders. These projects are short-term and include suggestions for further analysis. Descriptive Analysis projects focus on sharing information through data visualizations that clarify complex information.

APPLIED ANALYSIS Funding Levels: $2,000 - $10,000

An Applied Analysis project is a close examination of existing research with a discussion of implications for current challenges in Rhode Island. These projects offer new insights within the Rhode Island context and provide a discussion of how existing research can be utilized in the state. Some data collection and analysis may also take place.

STUDENT–FOCUSED RESEARCH Funding Levels: $1,500 - $10,000

Student-focused research consists of research conducted or supported by undergraduate and/or graduate students, led by a faculty mentor. These projects include, but are not limited to: Independent Study, Undergraduate/Graduate Thesis Projects, Designed Courses and Summer Research Fellowships. Funding for these projects can used to support faculty time, course development and/or student stipends.

Research Approaches

In addition to determining a Research Type, scholars should select a specific approach to exploring the themes and questions selected by the Panel of Policy Leaders.


A Core Insights Approach responds to the Panel of Policy Leaders’ questions with a research project that closely aligns with the identified state priorities. Provides implications for challenging state issues.


A Context Insights Approach explores the questions of Policy Leaders by providing a unique academic perspective to the research project. Provides context and/or background research for challenging state issues and helps to support decision-making.


A Resource Insights Approach shares compelling, existing research that has important implications for Rhode Island. The goal of this type of research is to highlight research from our Scholar Network and strengthen our scholar knowledge base. These types of projects do not
need to specifically address questions of policy leaders, but should connect to thematic areas. To be eligible for Resource Insights, interested participant(s) must discuss their research ideas with Amber Caulkins, prior to submitting letter of intent.

The Collaborative’s Award Process


When you submit a letter of intent, you will need to first join our Scholar Network. The Scholar Network consists of researchers from Rhode Island’s 11 institutions of higher education who have expertise in a variety of research areas. The Scholar Network provides opportunities for researchers to connect with scholars from across disciplines and campuses, gain resources for research, and to share their insights with a broad audience. Scholars participating in the network also have opportunities to work with policy leaders and community organizations. 

Scholars who are not submitting a letter of intent at this time may also join the Scholar Network to be profiled on our website and receive updates on opportunities. 

For more information on the benefits of joining our Scholar Network please visit,


Prior to drafting full research proposals, researcher(s) are required to submit a Letter of Intent that outlines the following information:

  • Name(s) of researchers and titles; affiliated organization(s); and contact information;
  • Proposed project title;
  • Proposed research type and approach, as well as rationale for selected research focus;
  • Description of how proposed project will address a question(s) from policy leaders;
  • Description of your expertise in this subject area (Have you conducted research, published papers, or taught classes on your topic?)
  • Complete the Scholar Network form online at

The Letter of Intent will be reviewed by our Panel of Policy Leaders for approval. Letters must be submitted by June 1, 2017.


A selection of researchers will be asked to submit a full proposal that outlines in detail their Research Type and Approach.


Proposals should be no more than ten pages of text not including a budget outline and the CV of each researcher. Meritorious proposals will include a:

  • Clear statement of the question being addressed and importance for Rhode Island policy leaders.
  • A justification for the Research Type (Collaborative Research Team, Descriptive Analysis, Applied Analysis, Student-Focused Research) and Research Approach (Core, Context or Resource Insights) selected.
  • Project Summary: Provide a detailed description of the importance of this study and a description of why this proposed project approach will be applicable to challenges in Rhode Island.
  • Discussion of relevant literature that will provide background for the proposed study.
  • Project approach, including the proposed work plan, budget and timelines.
  • A detailed description of:
    • Members of proposed research team.
    • Any data sets that will be needed to complete research.
    • Proposed concept of how to address research question.


All proposals must include proposed costs to complete described project. Funds can be used to support faculty and undergraduate or graduate student efforts. Funds can also be used to support projects that align with the research areas and seek to answer the questions in unique ways by incorporating student involvement. Funds can be used for data collection efforts.

There will be no overhead charges from applicant institutions.

Meritorious Proposals Will Have Considered and Responded to the Following:


  1. Identify which question(s) you will be addressing through your research project;
  2. Describe how the focus of your research is relevant to the original questions of policy leaders and to current policy discussions in Rhode Island;
  3. Include at least ten examples of existing academic studies you will be referencing in the research project;
  4. Include detailed research methods for original data collection that will take place (such as surveys or interviews); and/or methods for data synthesis.
  5. Demonstrate the applicability and importance of this topic to Rhode Island
  6. Describe your expertise in this subject area and how this research will contribute to your research agenda.
  7. Determine which data sets that you will need to collect and analyze;
  8. Describe your previous experience working on research teams, as well as any interdisciplinary projects, and/or your interest in working on this type of project.

DESCRIPTIVE ANALYSIS Timeframe: Up to 4 Months

  1. Identification of the data set(s) that you want to analyze;
  2. Description of how this data and the analysis that will take place supports and connects to the questions of policy leaders;
  3. Identification of who will be conducting the analysis;
  4. Determination of whether or not you want to partner with another researcher

APPLIED ANALYSISTimeframe: Up to 6 Months

  1. Identify which question(s) you will be addressing through your article;
  2. Describe how the focus of your research is relevant to the original questions of policy leaders and to current policy debates in Rhode Island;
  3. Include at least five examples of existing academic studies you will be referencing in the article;
  4. Include detailed research methods for any original research to be conducted (such as surveys or interviews);
  5. Demonstrate the applicability and importance of this topic to Rhode Island state leaders
  6. Describe your expertise in this subject area (Have you conducted research, published papers, or taught classes on your topic?); and
  7. Demonstrate how the academic community and/or the national or RI media has covered this topic in the past (What has been missing from the conversation that you would like to add?)

STUDENT-FOCUSED RESEARCHTimeframe: Up to 2 years

  1. Identifies themes or questions that the student research will explore.
  2. Describes how the student research project (or course) will be developed.
  3. Clearly outlines expectations and deliverables from students and the support that will be provided from faculty mentor.
  4. Describes previous efforts to imbed student research as part of a course (if applying to receive funds for course development).

Themes and Preliminary Questions

Research Areas will be divided into “Themes” that allow the research community to explore the thematic areas as part of interdisciplinary teams and as individual projects.


  • What can state government do to ensure that federal block grant funds are managed and invested most effectively?
  • What is the potential impact of increased spending on defense in Rhode Island?
  • How can Rhode Island align state priorities with the federal government for positive impacts as well as prepare for any potential negative impacts of changes to federal spending?
  • What is the potential impact of cuts to Medicaid on the state? (impact of uninsured residents on Rhode Island’s hospitals, medical access facilities, and physicians)
  • What might the role of our health exchange be, and/or what would potential options for its future mission be, if changes were made to the Affordable Care Act, or dismantling occurs?
  • What is the overall “health” of our healthcare industry in the state and what are potential impacts of cuts in federal spending?
  • What would be the financial and logistical (e.g. delivery and network systems) implications of a growing number of uninsured residents in RI?
  • What is the impact of the federal work study program on student persistence and success in Rhode Island higher education institutions, and how can it be improved?
  • How do RI districts use federal Title II, III, and IV dollars? Which are the most effective practices and what are the implications of federal cuts in these areas?


  • How can transportation be better aligned with the needs of Rhode Island’s in-state commuters? (including college students living off campus)
  • How could a Pawtucket Train Station help to attract people to live/work in Rhode Island?
  • How can transportation infrastructure (including parking) be designed to fit past, current and future urban planning?
  • What is the role of new forms of transportation (like Uber and Lyft) in supporting transportation needs (and innovative approaches i.e. providing supports for aging population in getting to medical appointments, patients to opioid treatments programs (OTP), etc.)?
  • In what ways can vacant buildings (e.g. abandoned factories and mills) be better repurposed in the state?
  • How can Rhode Island achieve the space needed for large industrial parks?
  • How can districts and municipalities be better supported in making effective investments in school infrastructure?
  • How can school transportation be more efficient while prioritizing student safety?


  • What types of regional strategic partnerships could Rhode Island participate in that are beneficial to the state?
  • What are best practices and lessons learned for public sector regional collaboration?


  • What are the economic costs and benefits of regional carbon pricing?
  • What are the short- and long-term strategies for capitalizing on alternative energy systems, such as wind, water, and solar power?
  • How can alternative energy sources reduce the amount of state spending on energy?
  • What are practical methods local businesses can adopt to utilize alternative energy to its fullest potential?
  • How can alternative energy practices make local businesses more competitive? How can Rhode Island be more competitive nationally with alternative energy use?


  • How can we leverage the investments in higher education in engineering to build momentum for engineering focused jobs in the state?
  • Are there opportunities to make Rhode Island a premier location for engineering focused industries (i.e. ocean engineering, medical engineering)?


  • How can the state be more pro-active in reducing entry into the criminal justice system (i.e. better understanding entry points?)
  • How can we decrease recidivism within the sex offender population (what are the supports/treatments needed)?


  • A working group will be formed to explore potential questions of interest in the manufacturing and advanced manufacturing sector.


  • What are the short- and long-term implications of Rhode Island’s declining population?
  • In what ways does Rhode Island’s aging and elderly populations impact the state (financially, economically and in the workforce)?
  • What effects does family-size have on larger financial and governmental concerns in the state?
  • What are the best practices for reversing declining population trends? Where are we gaining? Where are we losing?
  • What are potential implications for Rhode Island of losing a U.S. House seat in the future?
  • Which business investments can be leveraged based on our changing demographics?
  • What types of degrees/training are needed for the job growth sectors in Rhode Island? How does this compare with national trends?

Download the full RFP here