KU Racial Equity Research, Scholarship & Creative Activity Awards

Request for proposals

The KU Office of Research, in partnership with the Hall Center for the Humanities, invites proposals for the Racial Equity Research, Scholarship & Creative Activity Awards.

These awards will support members of our research and creative community as they apply their expertise to profound and persistent challenges related to attaining the goal of racial equity. Racial equity is generally defined as a state where race no longer determines one’s ability to thrive because systemic barriers to quality housing, education, employment, health care, public safety and other needs have been removed. As one of America’s leading research universities committed to diversity, inclusion and racial equity, KU must advance these goals, in part, through its research mission. We believe in the power of research, scholarship and creative activity to bring about change. Our objective is to foster progress toward racial equity through a combination of research, dialogue and action.

KU has funded 18 projects through the Racial Equity Awards program, which launched in 2021 and is supported by foundation dollars.


Proposal deadline

  • Nov. 15, 2023

Other resources

Award criteria + eligibility

Research, scholarship and creative activity supported by the new fund must be innovative or reflect a new application of existing research and have the potential to make a significant contribution to understanding the genesis and impact of inequities based on race, exploring impediments and/or charting a course toward racial equity. Attentive to KU’s vital role as a place-based institution, funding decisions will include as priorities community-engaged projects that address a local problem identified in collaboration with one or more community partners — injecting research, scholarship and/or creative activity to achieve both immediate progress and long-term sustainability while advancing generalizable knowledge and understanding. To address racial equity issues as broadly as possible, funding will be available to all Lawrence and Edwards campus faculty and academic staff (whether or not tenure-track), without regard for field or discipline. We hope to attract a diverse pool of applicants for this award. Projects that involve students or partnerships with colleagues at other universities, industry or nonprofit organizations are encouraged.

The program will support up to 4 awards of up to $20,000 each.

The Office of Research and the Hall Center’s Research & Grant Development Office will work with awardees to identify and secure external funding to continue or expand the scope of projects, but the potential to attract external funding is not a review criterion.

Workshop series

In conjunction with the award program, an ongoing Racial Equity Research, Scholarship & Creative Activity Workshop series will connect researchers working on racial equity issues and engage other members of the university community.

Racial Equity Awards Info Session

Review highlights, key dates and considerations from the request for proposals; get an overview of the budget template and dual-anonymous review process, and gain additional insights from the question-and-answer portion.

Eligibility, review + submission details

  • Lawrence and Edwards campus faculty and unclassified academic staff (whether or not tenure-track) may submit a proposal individually or as teams.
  • Proposed project duration must be 2 years or less.
  • Budget requests of up to $20,000 will be considered.
  • Incomplete or late applications may not receive full review and consideration.

All proposals will be reviewed following the Nov. 15, 2023 deadline by the Racial Equity Award Review Panel.

In an attempt to minimize bias, the Office of Research is piloting an approach to anonymize the identity of applicants for Racial Equity Awards until the second phase of the review process. Our aim in anonymizing proposal narratives and budgets is to help reviewers focus on the merit of the proposed research, scholarship or creative activity and limit potential unconscious bias while encouraging applications from investigators who otherwise might not apply due to perceptions of bias.

During the first phase, reviewers will only assess the anonymized project narrative for each proposal — focusing on project merits without taking into account the proposing team qualifications. Reviewers will submit their initial assessments via the program rubric (see below) to the Office of Research. As a final check, and only after the merit evaluation is finalized for all proposals, reviewers will be provided with the PI biosketches and budget to assess the project's feasibility and the qualifications of the team to execute a given proposed project. If there are clear, compelling deficiencies in the expertise required to accomplish the goals of the proposal or serious questions about the project's feasibility within the proposed budget, reviewers may note this in their comments to the Office of Research. This review may not be used to “upgrade” proposals for having particularly strong team qualifications, nor may it be used to re-evaluate the merits of proposals.

Following the two-phase review process, funding recommendations will be provided to the Vice Chancellor for Research for review and final approval within 8 weeks of the application deadline.

Review criteria include:

  • Merit and degree of novelty/innovation of proposed work
  • Feasibility
  • Evidence of the PI(s)’ capacity to lead the proposed work

Reviewers will assess these criteria using the KU Racial Equity Award Reviewer Rubric & Feedback Form (.docx). Applicants are encouraged to consult this rubric as they write their proposals.

The Office of Research and the review committee reserve the right to ask applicants to revise their proposals, and funding may be awarded for lesser amounts than requested.

Proposals must be submitted as a SINGLE PDF (including the budget template provided below) via email to racial-equity-awards@ku.edu by 11:59 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 15, 2023.

If you would like the Office of Research to screen your budget for any potential issues before you submit your final proposal, please send it to Nancy Biles at nbiles@ku.edu by 5 p.m. Tuesday, Nov. 7 to allow time for review and potential corrections.

All proposals must be completed in 11- or 12-point font with single spacing and 1-inch margins on each page.

The proposal must include the following in one single PDF:

  1. Cover page (1 page)
    Include the following information:
    • Title of the proposal
    • Name and detailed contact information for the lead applicant (title, mailing address, email address, phone number)
    • Department/center that will administer the award
    • Funding amount requested
  2. Anonymized project narrative (2-3 pages, including abstract, excluding references)
    Present an abstract of not more than 250 words, followed by a detailed description of your proposal, including answers to these questions:
    • How does the proposed work foster progress toward racial equity?
    • If applicable, what local problem does the project address and how does the proposed work engage one or more community partners?
    • What is novel, innovative and/or inventive about the proposed project?
    • How does the proposed project build upon KU’s existing work and resources in this area rather than duplicate them?
    • What are the metrics and outcomes that will signal success of the project?
    • If applicable, how does the proposed project involve students and/or collaborations with colleagues at other universities, nonprofit organizations or industry partners?

    Importantly, the text in the project narrative must be anonymized, omitting names and departmental affiliations of the team members as well as any other individually-identifying information.

    Anonymization guidance
    Proposers are required to write the project narrative for the proposal in an anonymized format, i.e., in a manner that does not explicitly identify the names of the team members or their KU departmental affiliations. Some specific points:

    1. Do not claim ownership of past work, e.g., "my previously funded work..." or "Our prior analysis demonstrates that…"
    2. Do not include the names of the personnel associated with the proposal or their departmental affiliations. This includes but is not limited to, page headers, footers, diagrams, figures, watermarks, or PDF bookmarks. This does not include references to past work, which should be included whenever relevant (see below).
    3. Do not associate personnel with named teams or collaborations, e.g., “the PI is a member of the ColLAB: KU Research Collaborative.”
    4. When citing references, use third-person neutral wording. This especially applies to self-referencing. For example, replace phrases like "as we have shown in our previous work [17], …" with "as previously shown [17], ..."
    5. As always, reviewers expect proposers to describe past work in the field to put the proposed work into context and explain how the proposed work would improve, build upon, complement, contradict, or complete that past work. Using the above guidelines, proposers should be able to successfully accomplish this in an anonymized manner.

    Investigator(s)’ suitability for the proposed research should be described in the biosketch, which will be available to reviewers (along with the proposed budget) during the second phase of review, when applications will no longer be subject to anonymization.

  3. PI biosketch (2 pages per PI; if co-PIs, submit for each)
    ​Similar to the ones for major federal funding agencies, the biosketch should demonstrate current research strength and capacity in the proposed area. It must include professional preparation; current and past positions/appointments; a list of up to 5 most recent publications and/or other outcomes (exhibitions, films, grant proposals for a nonprofit, etc.) closely related to the proposed area; if applicable, a list of applications to externally funded sponsored awards in the last 5 years, including those that are currently awarded or pending (with information about sponsor, duration, budget amount and role of individual); collaborative and/or community-engaged research activities, and other relevant research achievements.

    Examples of biosketches:
  4. Budget (on the provided template)
    Budgets may include funds to cover:
    • KU investigator(s) salaries and fringes (not to exceed 2 weeks of salary per investigator)
    • KU staff salary and fringe
    • Summer salary and fringe for KU students, plus minimal summer tuition costs
    • Hourly payments for KU students who do not incur tuition costs
    • Non-conference travel (conference travel is not allowed)
    • Materials and supplies
    • Small equipment (not to exceed a cost of $5,000)
    • Collaborative activity on the KU campus
    Budgets should not include:
    • Subrecipient agreements
    • Spring/fall tuition
    • Indirect costs
    • Cost share. Contributions from other units are, of course, welcome. Although not required, other contributions should be mentioned in the narrative.
    • Equipment over $5,000
  5. Budget narrative
    Describe and justify overall budget plan, planned expenditures and timing of expenditures.

KU Racial Equity Award reviewers are selected based on their knowledge, skills and experiences, per the following criteria:

Preferred skills and experience

Peer reviewers must be:

  • Faculty or academic staff on KU’s Lawrence-Edwards campus.
  • Able to analyze grant proposals effectively against published submission and evaluation criteria.
  • Able to express their evaluations in writing following established submission and evaluation guidelines.
  • Interested/invested in the advancement of racial equity through research, scholarship and creative activity as demonstrated in administrative, philanthropic, community, scholarly and/or creative activity/record/service.

Preferred backgrounds

Racial Equity Award sponsors (Office of Research and Hall Center for the Humanities) are interested in potential peer reviewers with:

  • Demonstrated history/experience in racial equity research, scholarship, creative activity, community engagement and/or community organizing.
  • A diverse range of identities that includes representation of groups historically excluded from higher education.
  • Scholarly experience representing a range of disciplines, including arts and humanities, social sciences and STEM.

Time commitment

  • Reviewers are needed annually in late fall to evaluate proposals that arrive by the November deadline.
  • Time commitment varies depending on the volume of applications and the number of proposals assigned to each reviewer. Reviewers will meet twice: once for an orientation that includes bias training and later to discuss proposals after scoring.
  • In addition to scoring each proposal, reviewers must provide written comments for each proposal that speak to how they evaluated the level of the proposal and be willing to support their scores with evidence from the proposal. Reviewers must also be willing to listen to input from other reviewers, engage in discussion, and work to resolve discrepancies in scoring.
  • At the present time, reviewers are not compensated monetarily for their service. 

Detailed budget template instructions

The calculation cells of this budget template have been locked, and you will not be able to alter their contents. Cells highlighted in blue are unlocked and data can be entered on those cells. If you need to add budget lines or otherwise alter the budget template, please contact Nancy Biles for assistance.

  1. Enter the start date of your project in Cell B2.
  2. Choose the appropriate tuition rate type from the drop-down menu in Cell A5. If no GRAs are included in your budget, or if they will not be enrolled in the summer for which you are requesting student salary, you can skip this step.
  3. Enter the PI name in Cell B6.
  4. 5. and 6. Enter the names of any co-investigators in Cells B8, B10, B12, as applicable.
    1. Enter the name of non-co-I senior personnel in Cell B14 as applicable.

Senior Personnel

Principal Investigator (PI) – Enter the biweekly rate for the PI in Cell N7. Enter a percentage value in Cell J7. This represents the portion of salary requested for the PI. If requesting the full 2 weeks allowed, the percentage should be 100%

Co-Investigator (Co-I) or Non-Co-I Senior Personnel – Enter the biweekly rate for each co-I or senior person in Cells N9, N11, N13 and N15, as applicable. Enter a percentage value for each individual in Cells J9, J11, J13 and J15, as applicable. This represents the portion of salary requested. If requesting the full 2 weeks allowed, the percentage should be 100%

The total salary amount requested for senior personnel (PI, co-Is and other senior personnel) will populate in Cell R16.

Other Personnel

Postdoctoral Associate – If requesting salary for a postdoc, enter the name of the postdoc in Cell E19. Enter the FTE for the postdoc in Cell I19. Enter the number of biweeks of salary requested in Cell J19. Do not exceed 26. Enter the postdoc’s biweekly rate in Cell N19.

Technician – If requesting salary for a technician, enter the name of the technician in Cell E21. Enter the FTE for the technician in Cell I21.Enter the number of biweeks of salary requested in Cell J21. Do not exceed 26. Enter the technician’s biweekly rate in Cell N21.

Graduate Student (GRA) – Graduate students who are doing work that is related to their degree program should be categorized as GRAs. If requesting summer salary for a graduate research assistant(s), enter the number of students in Cell H24. Enter the FTE for the GRA in Cell I24. Enter the number of biweeks in Cell J24. Enter the biweekly rate for the GRA in Cell N24. The minimum biweekly rate for a GRA is $954.

Undergraduate Student or Hourly Graduate Student (GA) – Graduate students who are doing work that is not related to their degree program can be categorized as GAs. Enter the number of undergraduate students or GAs in Cell H26. Enter the number of hours per student in Cell L26. Enter the hourly rate in Cell N26.

Other personnel – Enter the name of other personnel who do not fit into the categories above into Cell E30. Enter the number of biweeks of salary requested in Cell J30. Do not exceed 26. Enter the biweekly rate for other personnel in Cell N30. The total salary amount requested for other personnel will populate in Cell R31. Total salaries and wages for all personnel will populate in Cell R32.

Fringe Benefits

Fringe benefits will be calculated based on standard rates for each type of appointment. All of the cells in the fringe benefits section are locked. The total amount of fringe benefits will populate in Cell R38.


Travel costs should be budgeted using the Travel Worksheet tab at the bottom of the budget spreadsheet. Do not enter data directly into the Travel section of the budget spreadsheet.

Click on the Travel Worksheet tab.

For trips requiring airfare, use travel table (a). For regional travel using a personal car, use travel table (b).

Travel Table (a) – Enter the number of persons traveling in Cell F19. Enter the number of trips in Cell H19. Enter the number of travel days/trip in Cell J20. Review the rates for airfare (Cell L20), meal per diem (Cell L21), lodging (Cell L22), and car rental (Cell L23) and adjust as needed depending on your destination. You can access allowable per diem and lodging rates for your destination city using the widget at the US General Services Administration website. Travelers requesting a lower per diem rate than the approved rate for their location must complete a per diem exception form before travel.

Travel Table (b) – Enter the number of persons traveling in Cell F31. Enter the number of trips in Cell H31. Enter the number of miles per trip in Cell I31. Enter the number of travel days per trip in Cell J31. If returning home on the same day, do not enter anything into Cell J31. Review the rates for meal per diem (Cell L33) and lodging (Cell L34) and adjust as needed depending on your destination. You can access allowable per diem and lodging rates for your destination city using the widget at the US General Services Administration website. Travelers requesting a lower per diem rate than the approved rate for their location must complete a per diem exception form before travel.

When you click back to the Year 1 tab, the total travel request will populate in Cell R47.

Participant Support Costs

This section is only for non-employee, non-student participants in training. Incentive payments to human subjects should not be included here. They should be entered as Other Direct Costs. Many proposals will not include any participant support costs.

Enter the number of participants in Cell E53. Enter the stipend amount per participant in Cell N49. Enter the stipend amount per participant in Cell N50. Enter the subsistence amount per participant in Cell N51. Enter the other costs per participant in Cell N52. Total participant support costs will populate in Cell R54.

Other Direct Costs

The descriptions in Cells E56, E57, E58, E59, F67 and F68 have been included as common types of project expenses. They can be revised to accommodate other types of expenses that may apply to your project, including incentive payments for human subjects or usage fees for KU service labs, for example.

Research materials and supplies – Equipment purchases of $5,000 or above unit price are not allowed. Costs for other materials and supplies should be entered in Cell R56.

Publications – Includes publication costs for electronic and print media to disseminate results.

Consultant Services – KU employees are not allowed to serve as consultants on sponsored projects. They must be paid through the payroll system at their current rate of pay. If you are requesting salary for KU employees for this project, they should be included in the Senior Personnel section above.

Tuition – If requesting tuition for GRAs, enter the number of GRAs to receive tuition in Cell N66. Summer tuition rates will be populated in Cell H65 based on the tuition rate schedule you selected in Cell A5. This rate will be multiplied by the number of GRAs specified in Cell N66, and the total tuition amount will be populated in Cell P66.

Total other direct costs will populate in Cell R73.

The total budget amount will populate in Cell R74.

Project reporting expectations for awardees

Awardees will communicate any project developments, challenges and/or achievements — such as evidence of positive changes for the community or in relevant public policy, publications, external grant applications, invention disclosures, patents or patent applications, conference presentations, creative work, press releases, licenses, etc. — to racial-equity-awards@ku.edu as soon as possible, and for up to three years beyond the initial funding period, so that they can be disseminated through KU Research and KU News. Any publications (or other “products”) arising from this request for proposals should acknowledge that it was "Made possible through support from the KU Racial Equity Research, Scholarship & Creative Activity Fund."

  • A final report will be submitted to racial-equity-awards@ku.edu within 60 days of the project end date. The report must:
    • Summarize the extent to which original proposal goals and objectives have been achieved, highlighting metrics for measuring project success as included in the proposal.
    • Highlight any other significant achievements and outcomes.
    • Address plans for future work.
  • Awardees must follow all KU Office of Research policies and procedures, including research compliances.
  • No extensions of project end dates will be approved, except where exceptional circumstances substantially impeded progress on the work proposed. Unused funds will be retained by the Office of Research to support future Racial Equity Fund competitions.
  • Rebudgets over 10% of total award amount must be approved by the Office of Research. Any rebudgeting must still adhere to the budget requirements above.

Racial Equity Award FAQs

Program eligibility

Titles depend on source of salary funding and include assistant scientist, associate scientist, senior scientist, curator, specialist, assistant research professor, associate research professor, research professor, assistant clinical professor, associate clinical professor, and clinical professor.

See Unclassified Academic Staff Titles and Related Administrative Practices in the KU Policy Library.

No. Only faculty and unclassified academic staff are eligible. Postdocs can, however, be members of a research team.

It’s possible. Principal investigator eligibility for KU Racial Equity Awards is limited to KU Lawrence/Edwards campus faculty and academic staff, and Board of Regents policy generally prevents KU Medical Center employees from serving as consultants on projects for other state institutions/agencies. However, KUMC employees could receive salary as senior personnel through an interagency memo with the KUMC Research Institute. Any other payment arrangements with KUMC (student employees, other project costs) would require a subrecipient agreement, and those are not allowed in this program.

Community partners

Community partners can be community groups/organizations, schools, government bodies/agencies, health-related organizations, faith-based organizations, business/industry partners, and others. Although partnerships within the university are encouraged, those would not be considered community partnerships unless the KU partner has a relationship with an external partner that will be relevant to the project.

Community partners may be international collaborators if the relationships and arrangements are in compliance with KU policies. Please note that paying international collaborators without subcontracts is potentially risky. Because subcontracts are not allowed in the Racial Equity Awards program, arrangements to pay foreign collaborators would require additional scrutiny.

Visit the International Travel page on the KU Research website.

Yes, letters of support/collaboration are welcome in the proposal packet. Please include them as separate documents within the packet. If appropriate/helpful, you can also reference the letters from the proposal narrative, as long as doing so does not compromise the narrative’s anonymity.

Anonymized proposal narrative

No. Proposal narratives will be screened for anonymity before being shared with reviewers. If it is determined that a proposal is not completely anonymized, it will be returned to the applicant for the opportunity to edit identified elements and then resubmit in a timely fashion with no penalty.

It depends. Please consider context and use your best judgment. If a community partnership is sure to tip off reviewers to the proposer’s identity, describe the partner and/or the nature/value of the partnership without revealing the partner’s identity. Partners could then be fully identified in the budget and budget narrative.


Yes, please. Having a narrative explanation can help the Office of Research answer any questions that arise about your intentions/decisions in the proposed budget.

If you are comfortable working in Excel, feel free to add lines to the budget template. If you’re not, please contact Nancy Biles for assistance. Please note that personnel costs are the most expensive part of most budgets, so it’s unlikely that a $20,000 Racial Equity Award would include enough funding to add more personnel than there is already room for in the budget template.

If you have other support available for your project (not required), please do not include it in the budget template. Rather, you can discuss it in the budget narrative of your proposal.

You can budget for partial biweeks by adjusting the percentage of time for the relevant personnel. The maximum amount of salary allowed for Racial Equity Awards is 2 weeks (100% of a biweek). To account for less than two weeks, simply enter the biweekly rate and adjust the percentage of time (e.g., 75% or 50%).


Lodging, meals, incidentals and other allowable expenses should be covered in your budget if you’re asking people to travel as part of your project. Typically, U.S. General Services Administration per diem rates are used for domestic travel; rates for travel outside the U.S. are determined by the Department of State.

The KU Office of Research has a per diem exception policy for principal investigators and other key personnel. If you have other funding to cover travel or you are expecting senior personnel to cover their own travel costs, you may submit a Per Diem Exception Request Form (.docx). You should not ask students or postdocs to travel without covering their expenses.

Yes, it is generally permissible to seek other funding to cover project expenses that you anticipate would exceed the maximum award amount for this program. This approach would be allowable as long as the proposed work also adheres to the regulations and guidelines associated with the other funding source (which should not be federal sponsored project funds). Please note that if you have not secured this alternative funding at the time you submit your proposal, you should have a contingency plan in place in case that funding does not materialize.

International travel is allowable, as long as it fits within the scope of your budget and is justified to accomplish the aims of your project. The rates included in the spreadsheet are appropriate for domestic travel. If you are including foreign travel, you likely will need to increase the travel, lodging and per diem rates on the travel worksheet to account for the higher cost of international travel. You should explain the increased costs in your budget narrative.

Geographic/international matters

Yes, and yes. As long as all elements of the proposal align with what’s allowable in the budget and per KU policy.


Yes, as long as the relationships are in compliance with KU policies and policies of any associated international institutions.



While not strictly prohibited, paying international consultants often proves logistically difficult or impossible. Payment arrangements can be successful if the consultant is an individual based somewhere KU has an existing relationship and financial systems/agreements are already in place. Consider carefully whether attempting such an arrangement might delay or prevent work on your project. Please also note that subrecipient agreements with institutions are not allowable in this program.

International travel is permissible. KU Human Resource Management rules about remote work abroad may determine what is allowable. Employees who are doing approved work on a sponsored project that requires their presence in an international location may be exempt from certain limitations. Please contact HRM with specific questions.