Social Justice Impact Grants

Social Justice Impact Grants (SJIG) aim to catalyze rigorous, solution-oriented research on social justice topics, including criminal justice reform, housing segregation/gentrification, systemic racism, achievement gaps, health disparities, environmental justice, and related topics.

SJIG funds are to support research that holds high potential for building a more equitable and just society, future external funding, and career advancement. All research designs and methodological approaches (e.g., quantitative, qualitative, mixed method, record reviews) are welcome. Focus may be on any geographical place or scale, but work benefiting the state of Minnesota is prioritized.

See our past Social Justice Impact Grants Awardees

Funding & Cycle

RIO expects to support approximately 3-6 awards per year with total budgets $25,000 - $50,000 for a 12 month period. SJIG funds are not meant to provide sole support for research activities. Applicants who leverage other (external) funds and UMN resources will be prioritized.

Upcoming deadlines:

02/19/24: Application opens
03/11/24: Principal investigator submits application to approvers (by 11:59 p.m.)
03/14/24: Approvers submit application to RIO (by 11:59 p.m.)
May 2024: Award notification
07/1/24: Award period begins

Evaluation Criteria

Applications will be reviewed by a diverse and interdisciplinary committee from the University. Evaluation criteria include: 

  1. Relative importance of the problem addressed, especially for Minnesota
  2. Potential for near-term meaningful impact/change, especially in Minnesota
  3. Potential for future external funding and ongoing success
  4. Potential for investigator career advancement, especially for historically disadvantaged scholars
  5. Proposal clarity

RIO emphasizes the importance of criteria 2 above: SJIG is focused on catalyzing work with strong potential for near-term impacts, however modest. There is an extensive body of research documenting disparities and inequities; feasible, pragmatic solutions are now needed.

Eligibility Requirements

Who Can Apply?

SJIG applications are accepted from UMN faculty (professor, associate professor, assistant professor) conducting research and who hold (or will hold during the relevant academic year) full time (100 percent) tenured or tenure-track appointments (employee class FAR). New faculty must begin their appointment by the start date of the grant.

UMN faculty (professor, associate professor, assistant professor) holding full-time (100%) salaried multiple year contract, annual renewable contract or fixed term contract appointments (employee class FAC, FTD, or ACP) and who are annually evaluated like tenured and tenure-track faculty (in terms of their research accomplishments, independence and ability to secure external funding), are also eligible for SJIG support.

A faculty member may be principal investigator (PI) on only one application at a time or one awarded SJIG during a given grant period. 

Proposals That Are Not Eligible

  • Proposals from PIs who have held two SJIG awards within the past five years 
  • Proposals that have been reviewed three times previously, unless the PI was specifically encouraged to resubmit the proposal following the most recent submission. Note: given constraints only minimal feedback can be given.
  • Applications directed primarily toward curriculum or educational development (e.g., preparation of textbooks or course materials, or toward product development, market surveys, etc.) These are more appropriately funded by the faculty member's department or college, or by industry, respectively.
  • Projects that are evaluations of educational (e.g., classroom) experiments, industrial processes, etc. are generally not eligible for funding unless it is clear that the research is part of a broader hypothesis that is the basis of the scholarly work of the faculty member and that the evaluation is not an end in itself.
  • Graduate student thesis research per se (although graduate students are often major participants in projects receiving support).
  • Applicants who have more than $50,000 of uncommitted nonsponsored/internal funding (e.g. start up, matching, Imagine Funding, funds associated with position).

By approving the application, the department chair/head guarantees a commitment for salary and space for the term of the grant.

Terms of Support

Specific projects are typically supported only once. Should faculty wish to apply for a second term of support, a new proposal must be submitted that addresses the following issues: a) there must be a strong indication that the potential for useful results and/or outside funding would be markedly improved by the additional term of support; b) the first term must show appropriate progress; and c) concrete efforts should have been made (whether successful or not) to obtain external funds.

Note: New projects will have priority for funding, other factors being equal. Support for a specific project beyond the second term is granted only in exceptional circumstances.

How to Apply

Application Instructions

Application instructions provide information about system requirements, how to edit or check an existing application, required attachments, proposal requirements, budget requirements, and approval routing.

Start a New Application

during an open funding cycle. Only applications submitted through this system are accepted; fax, email, and paper copy applications will not be accepted.

If you click on the new application link when a competition is closed, you will not be able to apply and will receive a message: "This competition type is currently closed. Please contact for more information."

Edit an Existing Application

To , choose "RIO Other Funding Opportunities" from the "Process" drop down list (top left corner). Click on “My actions to do.” Click on the relevant link in the “Action” column. On the next screen, you will see your application. Note: Only applications created in the current competition will be accepted.


General areas of support include: personnel, such as graduate or undergraduate research assistants; operating supplies and services; equipment; and limited travel.



  • Faculty salary/fringe support for departments where such a budget model is the norm/expectation (e.g., Public Health) Note: There is a required 50% match for faculty FTE coverage from the department/school/center
  • Salary/fringe support for graduate or undergraduate research assistants; partial support for post-doc and civil service personnel and non-faculty P&A
  • Non-UMN personnel (e.g., consultants, honoraria, artistic commissions). May not exceed $5000 or 20 percent of the total SJIG project cost, whichever is smaller.
  • Research subject/participant payments

Not allowed:

  • Support for personnel to edit or index publication material or to word process manuscripts or proposals
  • Subcontracts

Operating Supplies & Services


  • General operating supplies and services (including core facility use charges) for this project, including computer supplies and software, if clearly necessary for the project. Publication costs for journal fees are limited to $1,000.
  • Professional or lab services outside the UMN. May not exceed $5,000 or 20 percent of the total SJIG project cost, whichever is smaller.

Not allowed:

  • Routine maintenance/repairs of equipment
  • Books, subscriptions, reprints
  • Utilities (e.g., phone lines)



Transportation and/or per-diem expenses to a) gather data or use resources otherwise not available, or to b) work with other colleagues on research of mutual interest. Note: Most scholarly meetings and conferences intended primarily to report on research are not appropriate. 

See rates and other travel information. Rates should be reduced proportionately for visits longer than one month in one locale, when it should be possible to make more economical arrangements. Explanation of long-term arrangements must be included in the budget justification section.

Not allowed:

  • Travel to sabbatical and single semester leave sites from Minnesota and return. Travel and per-diem expenses for single-semester leave and sabbatical sites to another site (“side trips”) for strictly research purposes may be considered.
  • Travel expenses associated with professional meetings, conferences, and short courses
  • Fees and expenses associated with conferences

Equipment or Rents & Leases


  • Minor or major equipment, including computer equipment, if specifically needed for the purpose of the proposed project. Note: It is expected that departments or other University resources (e.g., Office of Information Technology and Minnesota Supercomputing Institute) will provide computer support.
  • The justification for a computer request must include the following: 1) Specify the special features of the computer that are necessary and integral for supporting the project. 2) Explain why other University computing resources (e.g. MSI, departmental computers) cannot meet the needs of the project. 3) Explain what will be done with the computer when the research is finished.
  • Shared equipment requests must include a 30–50 percent match. Non/shared equipment requests of capital equipment (equal to or greater than $5,000) should also include matching funds, typically 30–50 percent.