A new University of Minnesota grant program aims to support solution-based research that holds potential to build a more equitable and just society.
The Social Justice Impact Grant program, funded by the Office of the Vice President for Research and available to faculty across the UMN system, is now accepting applications. The grant program is designed to fund research into social justice topics ranging from criminal justice reform and housing segregation to achievement gaps and health disparities.
A diverse and interdisciplinary University committee will review applications and evaluate them based on the relative importance of the problem addressed; the potential for near-term, meaningful change; the potential for future external funding and ongoing success; the potential for investigator career advancement (especially for historically disadvantaged scholars); and the clarity of the proposal. Research chosen for funding may focus on any geographical place or scale, but work benefiting Minnesota will receive priority.
Michael Oakes, PhD, associate vice president for research and professor of epidemiology and community health in the School of Public Health, said the SJIG program demonstrates the high value the University places on social justice research and offers incentive and support for new ideas in this space.
“There are libraries filled with scholarship documenting past and present social inequalities and injustices in health and education, police actions, environmental impacts, and so forth,” Oakes said. “Underrepresented is research on credible, viable, action-oriented, solutions. OVPR can play a small role in this by catalyzing rigorous efforts to identify potential solutions that also hold promise for longer-term external support.”
The SJIG program will accept and respond to applications on a continuous basis, with reviews and funding decisions made approximately every two weeks until the program funds have been fully allocated. The committee will fund between three and six awards, with each receiving $25,000 to $50,000 over a 12-month period.
Oakes said OVPR expects to support a new funding round of the program each year in the autumn, budget permitting, to further address disparities in our society.
“My hope is that UMN researchers raise the bar on evidence-based solutions for major social justice issues, especially those we grapple with here in Minnesota,” Oakes said. “The program will be successful if it helps our talented investigators move their ideas forward, make useful recommendations to decisionmakers, gain external support for their work, and, in some case, advance their careers at UMN.”