Seed Grant Program Guidelines

The CPRC seed grant program is made possible by funds from the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health & Human Development (NICHD), the Columbia University Office of the Provost, the Executive Vice President for Arts and Sciences, and the Institute for Social and Economic Research and Policy (ISERP). The goal of the CPRC seed grant program is to help faculty lay the groundwork for intellectually innovative population research to the point where they can attract external funding. 

As always, CPRC is interested in proposals that address our research priorities by focusing on:

  1. one of CPRC’s four primary research areas, which are children, youth, and families; immigration/migration; reproductive health and HIV/AIDS; and urbanism; or
  2. our cross-cutting theme of attention to inequalities and policies to mitigate those inequalities. Preference is given to proposals that move beyond documenting inequalities, and instead focus on understanding the causes of or solutions to inequalities.

CPRC will continue to support seed grant proposals related to the COVID-19 pandemic.


All full-time faculty and research scholars or scientists at Columbia University are eligible to apply. 

CPRC affiliates, particularly tenure-track faculty, receive priority consideration. Priority is also given to applicants who are active participants in CPRC’s intellectual community (participating in seminars, mini-conferences, etc.) and to applications that include the mentorship of a junior scholar by a more senior one, of that will build new interdisciplinary, interdepartmental, or cross-campus collaborations. 


November 16, 2020

Please submit your application to Applicants will be notified by the end of June. 

Review Criteria

  • Is the proposed project related to one of CPRC’s four primary research areas or cross-cutting themes, or COVID-19?
  • Does the proposed project have intellectual merit and the promise of innovation?
  • Does the project have the potential to attract further funding?
    • Preference is given to projects with a clear plan for submitting to NICHD or for requesting secondary assignment to NICHD, specifically projects that will be eligible for funding under the Population Dynamics Branch (PDB).
  • Does the research team include investigators from at least two Columbia departments/schools, and/or represent the mentorship of a junior investigator by a more senior investigator?

Grants will not be awarded to proposals that request funding for a stand-alone project (that is, a project which is not intended to build towards the development of a subsequent research proposal), that do not describe plans for obtaining external funding, or that poorly justify their budget.

Note that for proposals using restricted-access microdata (e.g. collected by the U.S. Census Bureau, the National Center for Health Statistics, and the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality), the process for agency approval to use the data can be very lengthy. We will only consider proposals using restricted data after they have received agency approval.

Award Amount and Budget Period

Up to $20,000 may be awarded, but many grants request amounts considerably below that level. Seed grant funding is limited to funding direct costs of research. Funding may not be used for faculty release time, faculty summer salary, or computer purchases. Food purchases that adhere to the NIH Grants Policy Statement guidelines are allowable. CPRC seed grants are awarded for a period of one-year. In some cases, we will grant no-cost extensions, if justified, and if allowed by funding source.

Submission Materials

To apply, submit the following application materials to

  • Cover page - Include the 
    • project title, 
    • e-mail, telephone number, and departmental affiliation of each investigator
    • contact information for the PI’s department chair and department administrator, and the
    • IRB Protocol # (optional).
      • To expedite the award process, we recommend you submit a protocol to the relevant IRB at the same time you submit your CRPC application and include the protocol number on your cover page.
  • Abstract - Outline your research in a one-paragraph abstract suitable for public reports (to the non-social science public).
  • Clinical Trials Designation – Please address whether your proposed study would be considered a clinical trial by NIH by answering Yes or No to these four questions:
    • Does the study involve human participants?                                                                
    • Are the participants prospectively assigned to an intervention?
    • Is the study designed to evaluate the effect of the intervention on the participants?
    • Is the effect that will be evaluated a health-related biomedical or behavioral outcome?
  • Narrative - Summarize your research question, theoretical foundations, existing literature, empirical facets of the research (if applicable), and the significance of the eventual project that the seed grant will help to develop. Be sure to distinguish between the seeded research and the eventual project for which you will obtain external funding. If the eventual project for which external funding will be sought is sufficiently advanced so that the project's specific aims can be included, even in draft form, please do so. Please also briefly address how your proposal addresses the review criteria. Excluding references, the narrative may be no more than five (5) with a minimum font size of 12 points.
  • Budget Worksheet - Include the line item budget as a separate Excel attachment with your submission. The budget should reflect a 0% indirect cost rate. 
  • Budget Justification - Clearly justify each item in the budget. Explain the role and planned effort for any supported personnel, as well as the specific purpose for any supplies, purpose of any funded travel, etc.
  • Appendix A: Plan for Obtaining External Funding - Describe your plans for obtaining external funds, including: a) what NIH institute or other funder you may approach, and why; b) what contact you have already had with these agencies, if any; c) when you expect to apply for funds; d) the expected scale of the eventual project; and e) how the activities funded by the seed grant will help to attract further external support. List current or pending grant applications that are related to the project, including funds requested or received from sources both internal and external to Columbia University. The maximum length for Appendix A is one (1) single-spaced page.
  • Appendix B: Relation of Proposed Activities to Existing Research - If the seed grant is related to ongoing, funded research, describe: (a) how the seed grant differs from the currently funded project, and (b) how the activities funded by the seed grant and how the existing project will benefit and support each other. If included, the maximum length for Appendix B is one (1) single-spaced page.
  • Curriculum Vitae (or current NIH biosketch) for all investigators.

IRB Approval/Exemption

Research projects involving human subjects must maintain Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval. If your project does not involve interaction with human subjects or identifiable data, you must still apply for exemption from the relevant IRB. While proposals that have not yet undergone IRB review will be considered for funding, no funds will be disbursed until CPRC has received a copy of your project's IRB approval letter, IRB letter of exemption, or demonstration of a Not Human Subjects Research designation. Due to the conditions of CPRC's own IRB approval, there are no exceptions to this requirement.


For additional information about CPRC's seed grant program or for advice on applications, contact