Grant-Writing Experience through Mentorship

The Grant-Writing Experience through Mentorship (GEM) program provides funding to enhance the professional development of investigators through one-on-one research/creative scholarship and grant-writing interaction with successful mentors. The purpose of this program is to increase the capacity of USU faculty and support experiences that will lead to external funding. To facilitate this goal, it is expected that funded GEM projects will result in the development and submission of at least one proposal to an external funding agency.

GEM grants provide one-year seed funding. Budgetary requests should be consistent with the scope of the proposed activity but cannot exceed $10,000 to support active collaboration between a new USU investigator and a more established colleague willing to serve as a research/creative scholarship and proposal writing mentor. Lesser budgetary requests will be equally considered during the review process.

The GEM program is not intended to be a parallel funding program. The goal is to generate data that will lead to externally funded future research/creative scholarship activities. As such, projects which seek parallel funding (i.e., the project idea is submitted externally before or within six months of seed grant application submission) will be disqualified from funding. Under rare circumstances (e.g., Extension seed grant program, etc.), parallel application submissions may be appropriate; however, projects can receive funding from only one internal program. Such projects should be discussed with the Office of Research prior to submission of a GEM application.

Questions? Contact Jeri Hansen at jerilyn.hansen@usu.edu or (435) 797-3437.


Proposal Process

Eligibility, Evaluation & Reporting

All USU tenure-eligible assistant professors and non-tenure track assistant professors or research professionals with no more than four years in rank, or tenured faculty who have not been awarded external funding in the past five years, are eligible to apply. Research professionals in limited-term positions (e.g., adjunct faculty, post-doctoral researchers, graduate research assistants) are not eligible. Eligibility for newly hired faculty seeking awards in their fourth year will also be predicated upon a favorable third year review.

Applicants (but not mentors) must complete the Office of Research-sponsored faculty grant writing seminar to be eligible for a seed grant award.

If an application is turned down by the seed grant review panel, an applicant is allowed one re-submission of a revised proposal for the same project in a subsequent grant cycle. Revised proposals must include the panel summary and a line-by-line description of how the review panel comments were addressed as an attachment (Appendix H).

Proposals that have already been submitted to an external funding agency and for which a funding decision is pending, or those already reviewed and found to be non-competitive (rated as less than “good”), are not eligible for GEM funding consideration.

It is the responsibility of the applicant to enlist the collaboration of an established researcher willing to mentor him/her. The mentor must be a tenured faculty member or established research faculty from USU or an outside institution whose position is at least one professional rank higher than the applicant.

Former major professors or postdoctoral advisors are NOT eligible to serve as mentors on GEM projects.

Applicants may be awarded only one GEM grant as PI.

GEM grant recipients are eligible to pursue other Office of Research seed grant types with no wait period after the successful completion of their GEM project and associated external submission.

Evaluation Criteria

All GEM proposals will be reviewed by a panel of USU researchers and administrators. In evaluating proposals, particular consideration will be given to the following criteria:

  1. Scholarly merit and relevance to the targeted external program announcement or RFP.
  2. Strength of the mentor: expertise, resources, and research/creative scholarship record as they relate to providing a productive mentorship experience; prior success with targeted funding agency by mentor will be viewed favorably.
  3. Strength of the research/project plan.
  4. Strength of the management plan, as appropriate.
  5. Strength of the mentorship plan.
  6. The degree to which the project will engage graduate, undergraduate, or post-doctoral researchers, as appropriate/feasible.
  7. The potential of the project to extend USU’s research/creative scholarship capability and increase external funding for activities based on agency program officer feedback.

Reporting Requirement

Grantees must produce and submit a new external proposal, directly facilitated by the GEM award, within 3 months of completion of the project. If funding is not awarded for the external proposal, the PI will provide the Office of Research with reviewer comments as well as a written plan for resubmission.

IMPORTANT NOTE: The USU faculty member of the GEM project may serve as PI or Co-I on the external proposal, but if the mentor is from another institution, USU must be the lead institution controlling the submission of the resulting external proposal (i.e., USU cannot serve as a subcontractor on the project).

PIs who do not submit the required external proposal will be ineligible for future Office of Research funding of any type until this requirement is met.

Proposal Format

Proposal Formatting

Each GEM proposal is limited to eight (8) pages:

  • Single-spaced text
  • 12-point font, 1-inch margins, page numbers
  • Page limitation includes figures and tables
  • Page limitation excludes cover sheet, external funding target(s) information, references, summary budget, budget justification, and appendices

Proposal Submission

Proposals must be submitted to the Office of Research by the Dean or Associate Dean of the PI’s college. An electronic (PDF) copy of the entire proposal should be submitted by the Dean or Associate Dean by uploading the document to the “Seed Grant Submissions” folder in Box. Proposal deadlines are January 15 and June 15 (if the deadline falls on a weekend or USU holiday, proposals are due on the next business day). Applicants are advised to check with their colleges regarding internal submission deadlines.

Cover Sheet (Word template, required)

External Funding Target(s) (Word template, required, one-page limit)

Research Plan (required, eight-page limit)

  1. Introduction and Seed Grant Project Description
    Describe the proposed research/creative scholarship. Include a summary of relevant literature, specific objectives/primary questions to be addressed, procedures and methods utilized, novel/cutting-edge aspects of the project, and broader impacts of the research. Provide an explanation of possible pitfalls/risks of the project and how these will be mitigated.
    If the proposed project will include human subjects research, documentation showing support for the research/creative scholarship by the external partner(s) (e.g., school district, care facility, tribe, etc.) must be provided and included in Supplementary Documentation (Appendix G).
  2. Management Plan
    Describe the scope of work and responsibilities of the key personnel of the seed grant project, such as data, project responsibilities, and information/communication management, as appropriate. This will be of particular importance if the project includes multi- or interdisciplinary partnerships. Provide a timeline for major activities, including the preparation and submission of the external proposal.
  3. Research/Creative Scholarship Products
    Identify and describe the expected research/creative scholarship products aside from the external funding request (publications, research data sets, etc.).
  4. Relationship of Seed Grant Project to External Funding Goal
    Explain how the seed grant’s project outcomes/products are relevant and necessary to the development of a strong and successful external proposal to the targeted funding opportunity. Describe how the seed grant work will enhance or be incorporated into the external proposal. In addition, describe how a less than satisfactory outcome of the project will be mitigated in the external proposal. Seed projects targeting NSF may want to consider involving Extension specialists to help improve the Broader Impacts requirement of the external proposal.
  5. Relevance of the Proposed Research/Creative Scholarship to the PI’s Career
    Include a statement about how the seed grant and the external proposal will advance the career of the PI.

References (required, no page limitation)

Budget (Excel template, required)

Budget Justification (Word template, required, no page limitation)

Provide a summary budget and justification for all proposed expenses, including mentor, student, postdoctoral researcher, and/or Extension specialist support; fringe benefits; supplies; equipment needed to generate preliminary data for the external proposal; and travel required to complete the research project. Research/Project plans that include travel must comply with USU travel policies.

Though not a budget requirement, up to $1,000 of the total budget may be allocated to the mentor to support time and effort or project-related contributions to the project.

Explain any departmental or college contributions to the project (not required, but could include providing student help, travel or administrative support, or other expenses associated with external proposal development).

The following costs are not allowed: PI salary support, conference travel, literature review costs, and funding paid to other institutions (unless well justified).

Appendices (required, no page limitation)

Appendix A. Mentorship Plan (required, one-page maximum)

Mentorship plan written by the mentor.

Appendix B. Curriculum/Curricula Vitae (required, two-page maximum per person)

CV information is required for the PI and mentor.

Include as part of the CV a record of grant writing experience and role (PI or Co-I). If no funding has been received, indicate any grant writing training received.

Appendix C. Current and Pending Support (required)

List the current and pending support for the PI.

For any current or pending projects that are related to the proposed seed grant project, include a separate description of the specific objectives and how they differ from the objectives of the seed grant.

Appendix D. Conflict of Interest (required)

Disclosure of any potential conflicts of interest is required for the PI.

Appendix E. Education and Training Plan (if required by external RFP)

If the targeted external funding opportunity requires a major educational or training component, describe how these elements will be addressed. Outline any plans for recruiting, retaining, or educating students from underrepresented groups.

Appendix F. Special Requirements of Project (if applicable)

Identify any special requirements of project (human participants, animal use, hazardous materials, etc.) and whether protocols are pending or approved.

Appendix G. Supplementary Documentation (if appropriate)

Letters of support from external partner(s) whose collaboration is integral to the execution of the proposed seed grant project (e.g., school district, care facility, tribes, etc.).

Appendix H. Review Panel Comments (if applicable)

If seed grant proposal is a resubmission, attach previous seed grant review panel comments and address comments line-by-line.

If the research/creative scholarship outlined in the seed grant application is intended to support the resubmission of an external grant proposal that was not funded in a recent cycle, but did receive favorable scores, a full copy of the agency review panel comments must be attached.

Application Timeline

GEM projects are funded semi-annually, with start dates of April 1 or September 1. Applicants should select the timeline that best ensures they can develop and submit an external grant proposal within three months of GEM project completion. See schedule below for the semi-annual timelines of GEM submissions, awards, and project deliverables.

Proposals must be submitted to the Office of Research by the Dean or Associate Dean of the PI’s college. An electronic (PDF) copy of the entire proposal should be submitted by the Dean or Associate Dean by uploading the document to the “Seed Grant Submissions” folder in Box. Proposal deadlines are January 15 and June 15 (if the deadline falls on a weekend or USU holiday, proposals are due on the next business day). Applicants are advised to check with their colleges regarding internal submission deadlines.

Schedule for GEM Submissions, Awards, and Project Deliverables

Steps For April 1 Start Date For September 1 Start Date
Proposals are submitted to Dean’s Office for internal review College determines internal deadline

(allow ample time for review and signatures by the Department Head and Dean)
College determines internal deadline

(allow ample time for review and signatures by the Department Head and Dean)
Dean’s Office submits proposals to the Office of Research January 15

(if this falls on a weekend of USU holiday, proposals will be due the next business day)
June 15

(if this falls on a weekend or USU holiday, proposals will be due the next business day)
Notification of awards by the Office of Research March August
Grant period April 1 - March 31 September 1  August 31
Final financial report Within 60 days of project end date Within 60 days of project end date
Final project report Within 60 days of project end date Within 60 days of project end date
External proposal submission Within 3 months of project end date Within 3 months of project end date

Templates & Forms

Cover Sheet

GEM Cover Sheet (Word)

External Funding Target(s)

External Funding Target(s) (Word)

Budget

GEM Budget Template (Excel)
GEM Budget Justification (Word)

Current & Pending Support

GEM Current & Pending Support (PDF)
GEM Current & Pending Support (Word)

Conflict of Interest Disclosure

GEM Conflict of Interest Disclosure (PDF)
GEM Conflict of Interest Disclosure (Word)

Special Requirements

GEM Special Requirements (PDF)
GEM Special Requirements (Word)