Population Health

COVID-19 population health equity research grants

Image of the coronavirus by iXimus from PixabayThe Population Health Initiative launched a COVID-19 population health equity research grant program. This program is intended to support University of Washington researchers in partnering with communities of color – which are being disproportionately impacted by the pandemic – to develop COVID-19 research projects that address community-identified needs.

Awards of up to $20,000 each were available. The period of performance for these awards is five months.

Applications were due on July 31, 2020, and 14 awards were announced on August 13, 2020. You can learn more about the awardees by visiting our News page. Final project results can also be found on our News page.

Purpose of grant

The purpose of this funding call is to rapidly accelerate, or jumpstart, novel research designed to better understand, mitigate, or reverse the impact of COVID-19 on communities of color to improve population health equity. Our call is broad in scope, and applications can propose research projects and interventions in areas including, but not limited to, the following:

  • Expanding reporting of racial demographic data for morbidity, mortality, and other areas of disparity
  • Improving understanding of the variation in infection by race and ethnicity
  • Improving the understanding of the variation in death and excess mortality by race and ethnicity
  • Bolstering access to, and communication of, culturally appropriate, evidence-based information
  • Improving access to care for the treatment of COVID-19 infection and for individuals with chronic conditions who are afraid or unable to easily access the health system
  • Reducing implicit and explicit bias in the health system
  • Reducing disparities in the quality of care and protections for residents and staffers in nursing homes serving communities of color
  • Improving pandemic-related shortages in childcare and the protections for childcare workers, specifically as faced by communities of color
  • Reducing the digital divide between those with computer and internet access and those without
  • Understanding the pandemic’s impact on housing and rental markets
  • Improving the accessibility of testing for communities of color
  • Reducing employment-related COVID-19 risks and outbreaks
  • Addressing mental health impacts related to the pandemic
  • Reducing pandemic-related learning disparities in K-12 education
  • Improving the understanding of the variation in economic impact – such as unemployment, earnings, and so forth – by race and ethnicity
  • Addressing the recovery of small businesses, informal firms, and the gig workforce
  • Addressing recovery of non-profits and social services providers
  • Understanding the impact of the pandemic on youth employment

Project ideas can be proposed that will either (1) quickly bring to bear new knowledge, or (2) that will allow work on a larger, longer-term project to begin immediately as the project team continues to seek the necessary external funding for the bigger component.

Applicants are required to propose projects that (1) address community-identified needs and (2) that were developed in partnership with a domestic or international community-based organization as the initiative views such partnerships as being critical to improving health and well-being. Specifically, we are seeking projects that work WITH a community partner to identify needs and design the project rather than projects that are developed by researchers and then “pitched” to potential partners.


Open to faculty members and PI-eligible research scientists from all three University of Washington campuses (Bothell, Seattle, Tacoma).

Applicants are required to propose projects that were developed in partnership with a domestic or international community-based organization. A letter of support from that community organization that speaks to the strength of the partnership must be submitted with the grant application.


The timeline for this funding call is as follows.

  • Application Period Opens: June 23, 2020
  • Application Deadline: July 31, 2020 (11:59 p.m. Pacific)
  • Awardees Notified: mid August, 2020
  • Period of Performance: 5 months (September 1, 2020 – January 31, 2021)

This opportunity is intended for rapid response to the challenges the pandemic has created and/or exacerbated in communities of color. All proposed projects must therefore either:

  1. Be appropriately scoped so all work can be completed within the five-month period, or
  2. Be scoped as a five-month project that acts as a key, foundational step for a larger, longer project for which you are currently seeking external funding (i.e., allowing you to begin work immediately).

If successfully awarded a grant, the project team will be required to submit a brief, final written update to the Population Health Initiative 30 days after the project ends detailing their project’s results against their project evaluation plan.

Project teams must also ensure their results are accessible to community partners so that partners can apply the findings.


Awards of up to $20,000 in total expenses per project are available from the Population Health Initiative. We encourage applicants to request no more than is required to complete the proposed work to maximize the number of projects supported by this funding.

Funds will be disbursed to the department of the UW investigator (or designated co-investigator) for day-to-day administration. Budgets must be non-discretionary and able to accept gift funds.

Allowed expenses include:

  • Personnel (i.e., salaries and benefits for faculty, staff and students)
  • Equipment, materials, and supplies
  • Tuition for graduate students
  • Other direct costs related to the project (must detail the expense and include rationale; can include external partners)

Unallowable expenses include:

  • Indirect/overhead costs
  • Publication and patent cost
  • Office supplies
  • Administrative support
  • Marketing efforts

Review criteria

Applications will be reviewed based on the following criteria:

  1. Proposes a project with the clear potential to better understand, mitigate, or reverse the impact of COVID-19 on communities of color to support improvements in population health equity
  2. Proposes a partnership with a community-based organization that is substantive and bi-directional (e.g., the proposed partner was deeply engaged in the design of the project)
  3. Proposes a framework, methods, approach, and analyses that are appropriate to the project aims
  4. Proposes work that is feasible within the five-month limit

Applications that include matching funds (i.e., cash or in-kind support) will receive priority in the unlikely event that two proposals receive identical review scores.

Members of the Population Health Initiative executive council will review and score all applications, and will, if needed, consult with appropriate subject matter experts as part of the evaluation process. Awards will be granted to the highest-scoring applications.

Application format

Applications must meet the following standards:

  • Submitted as a single PDF file
  • Paper size no larger than standard letter (i.e., 8 ½” x 11”)
  • Margins of at least 0.5 inch (top, bottom, left and right)
  • Single-spaced
  • Eleven-point font or larger using either Arial or Times New Roman
  • Smaller text in figures, graphs, diagrams and charts is acceptable as long as it is legible when the page is viewed at 100%
  • We do not require a specific citation format

Each application must contain the following sections:

  1. Completed cover sheet (project title, total budget, applicant names, and 250-word abstract)
  2. Research plan (one-page limit, including tables and visuals but excluding references)
  3. Evaluation plan, project timeline, and brief biographies for all investigators (one-page limit)
  4. Budget and budget justification (one-page limit)
  5. Please provide verification of matching funds if a cost share is proposed. A .pdf of an email from the individual making the commitment is sufficient.
  6. Letter(s) of support from the community partner (see page 5 of the application template for details)

Download application template

Submit an application

Applications can be submitted beginning on Tuesday, June 23, 2020. All applications are due by 11:59 p.m. (Pacific) on Friday, July 31, 2020.

Applications must be submitted as a single .pdf file through the following online submission portal.

Review by the Office of Sponsored Programs is not needed for these applications.

Submit an application

Please contact us with any questions regarding this rapid response grant or the application process.