Carnegie Mellon University

Community-Based Research-to-Practice Program


Student Proposals due Wednesday, March 13, 2024 (11:59 pm EST)
Mentor Letter of Recommendation Upload Due: Monday, March 18, 2024 (11:59 pm EST)
Decisions Announced Early April

The Research-to-Practice grant awards $5000 to undergraduates at Carnegie Mellon for 8-10 FULL-TIME weeks (300 hours) of summer research that positively impacts the Greater Pittsburgh Region community.

The Community-Based Research-to-Practice Program offers a limited number of financial awards for qualified undergraduates sponsored by the Center for Shared Prosperity (CSP). CSP is borne from efforts to reduce barriers to equitable prosperity in the Pittsburgh region while working to build healthier relationships between institutions and the communities of which they are a part. Research-to-Practice projects are strongly encouraged to be developed in partnership with local community-based organizations, and all projects must be for the benefit of our Greater Pittsburgh Region.  We define the term "research" loosely and encourage students to prioritize learning with and from their community partners.

Who is eligible to apply

  • Open to current undergraduates (including first-years) in degree-granting programs at Carnegie Mellon. Students must be planning to be enrolled full-time during the Fall semester after your fellowship. Students who are graduating in May 2024 are not eligible, whether or not they are continuing on to graduate school at Carnegie Mellon.
  • Students must be in good standing at the university (not on academic or disciplinary probation or suspension).
  • Preference will be given to students who are physically located in Pittsburgh to work on their project (ideally, students are able to be present with their community partners), but we recognize that this is not always possible and location will not be prohibitive to receiving the grant. 
  • This grant is considered to be full-time (37.5 hr/week). Students may hold other jobs during the grant period, but this must not interfere with your full-time hours of research and responsibilities to community partners. If you plan to work in addition to your research hours, you cannot have another position within Carnegie Mellon University, as working over 40 hours per week at CMU is considered overtime status. Additionally, students are discouraged from pursuing credit-bearing work (including TA/instructor work) during the period of their Research-to-Practice program. If a student has a compelling reason for taking a summer course, it should not interfere with the Research-to-Practice program. Contact Illah Nourbakhsh if you will need to enroll in credit-bearing work during your Research-to-Practice program period.

Can this be an individual or group application?

  • This can be an individual or group application. Because these projects are accountable to our regional community, it is important to gauge what is doable and manageable. A detailed accounting of task/ responsibility delineation should accompany a group proposal.

How much support is available?

  • $5000 stipend per individual student. For group projects, this amount would be awarded to each student (groups are suggested not to exceed 3 students).
  • The award is subject to all applicable taxes. Students will not be compensated from CSP beyond the $5000 maximum or beyond the established 300-hour maximum.
  • Housing is not provided with the Research-to-Practice grant. Information on summer housing is available here.

What is the grant period?

  • Projects will take place primarily in the summer within the 8-10 week timeframe.  The allocation of the 300 hours can be flexible, depending on the research and the community partner's needs.

What is Research-to-Practice?

  • Connecting universities to communities and communities to universities.
  • Recognizing that universities are part of a community ecosystem, therefore universities have a responsibility to ensure a community where everyone can thrive.
  • Breaking down barriers between researchers and practitioners, and acknowledging that expertise comes in many forms and from many ways of knowing.

How should project ideas be developed?

  • Students are invited to create their own projects, inspired by their interests, talents, and demonstrating an understanding of regional needs and community goals (however, you must have a faculty mentor who will oversee the work and advise). We expect these project ideas to either be instigated or further developed in direct collaboration with local community organizations, individuals, or issue-based efforts.
  • Students may also propose a project that is part of a larger faculty research endeavor but will need to demonstrate how their unique perspective benefits the research-to-practice grant and greater community.

What locale and set of issues fit the parameters of this research program?

  • This program is designed to address pressing issues that are impacting the Greater Pittsburgh region such as: the environment, education, health and wellness, food insecurity, housing, transportation, among others.

What are community-based organizations?

  • They are owned and managed by people in the Greater Pittsburgh Region.
  • They have a mission to improve the region for all peoples.
  • Examples of community-based organizations include Urbankind Institute, ACCAN, Lawrenceville United, Poise Foundation, GASP, Homewood Children’s Village, Gwen’s Girls, North Braddock Residents for Our Future, Take Action Mon Valley, New Sun Rising, Community Development Councils, and many others.

How to find mentors:

Mentors should support your work, provide advice, and help you work through hurdles as they come up. Individuals listed on this slide have submitted themselves as potential mentors for Research-to-Practice students. The listed mentors have agreed to be contacted by students in need of a Research-to-Practice mentor, but you may also request an introduction by Illah Nourbakhsh.

Grant Acceptance:

By accepting a Research-to-Practice grant, you are agreeing to:

  • Participate in SLICE & CSP’s “Intro to Community Engagement” training in Canva.
  • Meet at regular intervals (ideally weekly or biweekly) with their mentor(s).  The schedule for these meetings should be agreed upon with your mentor(s).
  • Attend 2-3 meetings with CSP staff and fellow research grant recipients during Summer 2024.
  • Write a short reflective piece upon completion of the research project.
  • Share your outcomes and learnings with the relevant community partners and stakeholders, with an emphasis on knowledge transfer and sustainability.  You are also encouraged to present your research and findings at the annual campus-wide Meeting of the Minds, held in early May each year.