Social Innovation Research Grant RFP

Request for Proposals: Social Innovation Faculty Research Grants

Proposals Due: Friday, November 17, 2017

This Request for Proposals (RFP) announces a faculty research grant competition to fund social innovation research that improves the quality of life for residents of low-income, urban communities.  Funding is available beginning January 1, 2017.

A limited number of one-year grants will be made.  Grants will not normally exceed $25,000, however, larger grants will be considered.  Funds must be expended on or before December 31, 2018.  Approximately, $100,000 is available.

About the Sol Price Center for Social Innovation

The USC Sol Price Center for Social Innovation was established in 2011 with a generous gift from Price Philanthropies to name and endow the USC Price School of Public Policy.  The mission of the Price Center is to develop ideas and illuminates strategies to improve the quality of life for people in low-income, urban communities.

We fulfill this mission through research, education, and community engagement, with a particular eye toward understanding large-scale change efforts in places and populations.

The Price Center conducts research and evaluation in three strategic areas:

  • Developing successful pathways of opportunity for children and families in low-income communities
  • Advancing new models of delivering social impact, including: new organizational forms, financing models, public-private collaborations, and technologies.
  • Developing new evaluation frameworks that account for risk and allow for successes and failures to be evaluated in social innovation frameworks


USC tenure-track and full time faculty may apply.  The RFP invites applications to undertake research on solutions to challenges facing low-income urban communities.

Successful applicants may be eligible for competitions in later years, contingent upon satisfactory completion of the current project.  However, each separate application should encompass a well-defined, self-contained program of research.


Eligible expenditures include:

  • Directly related travel and accommodation
  • Faculty summer stipend (subject to the University’s 33.5% fringe benefit charge and standard withholdings). Requests for release time during the academic year must be approved by the relevant dean and be justified in terms of the proposed research objective.  The request and approval for course release should be part of the application packet.
  • Faculty with 12-month appointments may charge their grant-related effort with approval of their dean.
  • Salary support for Graduate Research Assistants and other student wages including tuition.
  • Collection and purchase of archival materials
  • Ethnographic and survey research (including software, data sets, etc.)
  • Materials and supplies

Ineligible expenses include:

  • Large equipment expenditures (greater than $750)
  • Expenditures supplementing or offsetting direct or indirect costs of related projects
  • Indirect costs

Note that conservative and cost-effective budgets are strongly encouraged. Funding for students is encouraged in all projects.


A faculty panel will review proposals according to a range of criteria including:

  • Consistency with the Sol Price Center for Social Innovation RFP and mission
  • Innovation and research significance
  • Likelihood of continued external funding
  • Qualifications to perform work within the time frame specified
  • Reasonableness of budget and cost-effectiveness

Due to limited resources, not all proposals can be funded, and some may be funded for less than the requested amount.

The Price Center oversight board will make final project selections, taking into account referee reports, programmatic priorities and prior project performance.  Oversight board members may submit proposals, but are not allowed to deliberate and vote on their proposals.


Successful applicants will be appointed as FELLOWS of the Sol Price Center for Social Innovation for the duration of their projects.

The principal investigator will be responsible for the successful execution and timely completion of the proposed research.  Awardees are responsible to submit:

  • A policy brief in the form of a publishable four-page paper accessible to a general public readership that may be included in the Center’s publication series.
  • An academic working paper.
  • A final report providing a summary of project results as well as publications, external funding leveraged or applied for, and presentations based on the research.
  • One presentation of research at a seminar or conference organized by the Price Center.

Any publication or creative endeavor arising from work supported by the Price Center should acknowledge support from the USC Sol Price Center for Social Innovation.  Please submit copies of publications to the contact person below.


Proposals should be succinct and clearly written.  Proposals are limited to no more than 7 pages, not including abbreviated CVs and dean’s course release approval, if appropriate.  Each proposal must include the following elements:

  1. Cover Page (use attached cover sheet)
  2. An abstract of up to 100 words and a proposal narrative not to exceed four-pages of single-spaced, 12 point, Times New Roman typescript with one-inch margins.
  3. Detailed budget (use attached Budget Form)
  4. General timetable of work to be performed
  5. A two-page NSF bio-sketch that includes professional appointments, degrees awarded, as well as, key related publications and grants for PI and co-PIs.

The entire application package should be emailed to the contact person whose address is given below.


November 17, 2017  Proposals Due

December 15, 2017   Announce Decisions

January 1, 2018         Funds available

December 31, 2018   Deadline for expenditure of grant funds

January 31, 2019       Deadline for receipt of final report


Inquiries may be directed Caroline Bhalla, Managing Director, at (213) 821-7008 or