Poverty Research Small Grant Program


The Center for Social & Behavioral Science (CSBS) will provide small grants to social and behavioral scientists at the University of Illinois to study issues related to poverty and inequity. Poverty rates in the United States remain stubbornly high despite years of economic growth and multiple policy interventions. Outside of the U.S., the situation is even more dire insofar as over 3 billion people live on less than $2 per day. The contributing factors and the inevitable consequences of poverty and inequity are reflected in many social science efforts across the university, from the work of economists in LAS and ACE to the psychosocial consequences of poverty studied in Social Work and Education.

The goal of the CSBS Solving Poverty small grant program is to seed efforts by social and behavioral scientists to work together to address poverty and inequality challenges faced by individuals and society. The long-term goals of this funding initiative are 1) to create successful teams of researchers who will apply for grants from external funding agencies like the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health and 2) to establish a future Center at the University of Illinois that will focus on poverty and inequity.

The CSBS Solving Poverty small grants may range from $5,000 to $20,000 and are available to both faculty and staff at the U of I. Teams of researchers at various stages of the research process are encouraged to apply. In addition to the financial support provided to initiate projects, the CSBS will also match the initial funding after research teams submit viable proposals to national funding agencies or foundations that reflect the efforts first supported by the CSBS.

Applications will be accepted on a continuous basis until funds are depleted. Applicants will be notified of the decision after the applications have been reviewed.


The CSBS Solving Poverty small grants are intended to support activities that will result in the eventual submission of a proposal for external funding such as:

  • The development of new, innovative research projects
  • The creation of interdisciplinary networking groups
  • Small pilot studies needed to support larger funding proposals

Criteria for submissions to the CSBS Solving Poverty small grant program:

  • A well-articulated plan of research activities that focus on poverty and inequity
  • Innovative approaches to research on poverty and inequity
  • A clear path to writing and submitting one or more funding proposals to external granting agencies
  • Research that has the potential to contribute to the broader community of scholars working on issues related to poverty and inequity

The CSBS Solving Poverty small grants are not intended to support:

  • Expenditures generally made by departments and colleges (e.g., travel to professional conferences)
  • Delivery of outreach programs or services
  • Student master’s or dissertation research
  • Tuition waivers
  • PI/Co-I salary
  • Course buyouts
  • Meetings/brownbags
  • Travel (unless specifically required for data collection to complete the research project)

Submission process:

Applicants are asked to first upload a one-page pre-proposal via the online submission form.

The pre-proposal should provide a brief indication of:

  • The goal of the project
  • The methods used to achieve the goal
  • How the financial support will be used
  • The members of the team being assembled
  • The nature of the external funding proposal to be written
  • The funding announcement, if appropriate

The one-page pre-proposal will be vetted by the CSBS. If the pre-proposal is deemed viable then a 6-page full proposal will be requested covering the same topics.  The full proposal will be evaluated by the review panel, which consists of senior social and behavioral science researchers from across the campus.

A current CV from each team member should be submitted along with the full proposal.

Post-award support:

The CSBS will provide close follow-up support on funded projects. If unforeseen problems arise in the implementation of the research, the CSBS will do everything possible to help address the situation. However, the CSBS reserves the right to recoup monies from projects that cannot be completed as outlined in the original proposal. The decision to recoup monies and the determination for when monies will be recovered will be made at the sole discretion of the CSBS.

For projects that are completed, a funding proposal submitted to a granting agency will suffice for a progress report.

If a funding proposal is not created as a result of the support within a year, investigators are expected to provide an annual project status update and a brief (one page) final report upon completing the project. These efforts allow us to track and report outcomes as well as monitor the success of our small grant program.

If investigators wish to make changes to the project team, description, design, or budget during the course of your project, please send a request to CSBScience@illinois.edu with the details of these changes. Any such changes will be considered on a case-by-case basis and should not be made without prior approval from the CSBS.


If you have any questions about the CSBS or the CSBS Poverty Research Small Grant Program, please contact Elsa Augustine at elsaa@illinois.edu. You may also contact Cristina Alvarez Mingote at alvarez9@illinois.edu.

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