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National Service and Civic Engagement Research Competition - Notice of Funding Availability

NOFA/NOFO End Date: 
Thu, 07/16/2015
CFDA number: 
94.026
Contact Information
NationalServiceResearch@cns.gov
The National Service and Civic Engagement Research Competition has been updated. Clarify has been provided regarding the submission of additional documents.
 
All modifications to the National Service and Civic Engagement Research Competition are highlighted in yellow within the Notice of Funding Availability, Application Instructions, and FAQs. Please review these documents and take note of the changes.
 
For applicants that have already submitted a grant application, you can request to have your application returned to you by sending an email to NationalServiceResearch@cns.gov. Please include your Application ID Number and the Legal Applicant Name in your request. In cases where your application is returned to you for additional work, all applicants are still required to adhere the deadline of Thursday July 16, 2015 by 5:00 p.m. Eastern Time
 
Please contact NationalServiceResearch@cns.gov if you have any questions.
 

Table of Contents

 
To further achieve its mission, CNCS has a strong belief in the importance of research in order to identify effective strategies for national service and increase the evidence-base for its programs. This means engaging the broader community of academic researchers involved in studying and evaluating national service, volunteerism, and civic infrastructure. The goal of this competition is to increase the nation’s understanding and knowledge about the importance and potential of volunteering, national and community service, and/or civic engagement in America.  
 
We are seeking applications that build on existing research in the field, address gaps in knowledge, and provide new ideas and methodological approaches to the study of national service and civic engagement. 
 

Eligible Applicants

This competition is only open to institutions of higher education. All applicants must demonstrate an institutional capacity to manage large research projects and Federal or other grants. We will select one or more institutional candidates for doctorates, or one or more established researchers, scholars, and postdoctoral researchers who will be actually doing the research on behalf of the applicant, depending on the category of funding selected by the applicant. 
 
Activities to be funded through this competition include:
 
  • Research design, planning, and implementation including data collection, analysis and reporting.
  • Dissemination of results, including reports, publications, and presentations, as well as designing and teaching university-level courses.
  • Collaboration with practitioners and policymakers to apply and use results from research findings to support their work with communities, volunteers and/or national service participants. 

Funding Categories

CNCS anticipates funding projects in two categories: Dissertation and Scholars. Applicants may submit applications in one or both of the award categories. Applicants can submit more than one application to either category, though to the extent possible CNCS seeks to fund a diverse pool of applicants and it is likely only one application per applicant may be funded. Applicants to either award category must comply with all of the rules and restrictions described in this Notice, and will be subject to the same selection criteria described below in section. Generally, applications within one category will not be compared against those in the other category. 
 
Dissertation Category: This category targets research that may support doctoral dissertations. Applicants must select one or more institutional candidates for doctorates who will be doing the research, although the institution of higher learning will be responsible for meeting the performance objectives and other agreed upon criteria set forth in the Cooperative Agreement. Award amounts are expected to be lower than in the Scholars Category.
 
Scholar Category: This category targets established researchers, scholars, and postdoctoral researchers, with a proven track record and standing in their respective fields.  Again, applicants must select one or more established researchers, scholars, and postdoctoral researchers who will be actually doing the research on behalf of the applicant, although the institution of higher learning will be responsible for meeting the performance objectives and other agreed upon criteria set forth in the Cooperative Agreement.  Projects are expected to be of larger scope than those submitted to the Dissertation Category, including a team of researchers and substantial primary or secondary data collection. Results for the Scholars Category are also expected to have wider dissemination than those from the Dissertation Category. Award amounts are expected to be higher than in the Dissertation Category.
 

Funding Priorities 

CNCS seeks to support research in three broad areas of equal priority. Each funding priority has the potential to inform the agency’s policy and program decisions as well as provide evidence that CNCS is achieving its mission. Specifically, we seek to fund research in the following areas:
 
1) Economic benefits of national service, volunteering, and civic engagement
CNCS is interested in studies that address the economic benefits of national service, volunteering and civic engagement to individuals and communities. Though exploratory studies will receive consideration, CNCS prefers projects in this priority area that are confirmatory and testing hypotheses that can provide causal evidence of economic benefits. CNCS has sponsored several studies in this area, and encourages applicants to consider building on this existing work or exploring new areas. 
 
2) Innovative research methodologies applied to national service models
CNCS is interested in research methodologies that are innovative and have not yet been applied to national service models, and which have strong potential to yield useful results for policymakers, practitioners, and researchers. Applicants are encouraged to consider innovations in data collection, data analysis, and research design. 
 
Many CNCS programs require recipients to conduct program evaluations in order to develop their evidence base. However, CNCS programs, and national service programs broadly, have a wide range of intervention strategies that may not be amenable to traditional program evaluation methods, such as randomized control trials or comparison group designs. For example, AmeriCorps recipients may be engaged in stream rehabilitation, an AmeriCorps NCCC team may respond to natural disasters, and AmeriCorps VISTA members may train organizations to recruit board members. Such activities cannot necessarily be measured through conventional methods. Applicants are encouraged to consider research in one of the CNCS focus areas where less evidence of program effectiveness exists, namely: Disaster Services, Environmental Stewardship, Healthy Futures, and Organizational Capacity Building.
 
3) Measuring and exploring relationships among civic engagement, national service, and volunteering
CNCS is interested in research studies that can explore measuring civic engagement and related concepts, including social cohesion and social capital. Additionally, CNCS is interested in studies that explore the relationships among national service, volunteering, and civic engagement. While applicants should be deeply familiar with theoretical or conceptual work, CNCS is seeking studies that apply theoretical concepts in the analysis of empirical data, either quantitative or qualitative.
 

Application Deadline:

A Letter of Intent is due June 19 2015 no later than 5:00 pm EST.  A Letter of Intent is not required for this competition, but recommended. Please refer to the Notice for instructions.
 
Applications are due July 16, 2015, no later than 5:00 pm EST.
 
Frequently Asked Questions (PDF) | Updated July 21, 2015
 

Technical Assistance

Technical Assistance Call Schedule
 
A Technical Assistance call will be held on June 11, 2015 at 1 pm Eastern time. The call will provide a general overview of the Funding Availability and allow time for questions from potential applicants.  The call-in number is 877-918-5751, and you must enter passcode 2129912. Note: you will be asked to review the Notice of Funding Availability and Application Instructions prior to joining the call.  
 
All calls will be recorded, and the replay number for the call is: 800-945-3639. The replay will be available following the call, through July 16, 2015. 
 
 
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