Population Health

Tier 2 grants: Establishing proof-of-concept

UW team conducting research on a boatThe purpose of this tier of grants is to support faculty and PI-eligible staff to develop preliminary data or proof-of-concept needed to pursue follow-on funding to scale one’s efforts. Examples of previously-funded projects can be found by scrolling to the bottom of this page.

Awards of up to $50,000 per project – or $65,000 per project for teams proposing meaningful partnerships with community-based organizations – will be available with a project period of up to 12 months. One award during the winter 2024 cycle was reserved specifically for an internationally-focused project through our partnership with the UW Office of Global Affairs.

Applications will be accepted once per year in January in a two-stage process: submission of a brief letter of intent, with the most compelling ideas then invited to submit a full application.

Application guidelines

Faculty members and PI-eligible research scientists from all three University of Washington campuses (Bothell, Seattle, Tacoma) are encouraged to apply for population health pilot research grants.

To encourage interdisciplinary collaboration, applications will only be accepted from project teams made up of either:

  • A minimum of two UW principal investigators (PIs), with each holding primary appointments in different and distinct academic departments; or,
  • A minimum of two UW PIs, each from different departments, and one PI from a community-based organization if proposing a community-based project.

Teams proposing projects that were developed in partnership with a domestic or international community-based organization to address community-identified needs must demonstrate how UW researchers worked WITH the community partner to identify needs and design the project (i.e., as opposed to UW researchers developing an idea and then “pitching” it to potential partners). Learn more about best practices in community engagement.

Applications should address a component of at least two of the three pillars of population health. Applications must also represent a new project, innovation or research direction for each of the PIs. The proposed project should provide preliminary data or proof of concept needed to seek outside funding and support. Tier 2 pilot grant applications should not be an extension of well-established, ongoing or recently funded studies or projects. Pilot grant applications should not be used to bridge funding for existing work.

Funds will be disbursed to the department of the lead UW co-investigator for day-to-day administration. Budgets must be able to accept non-discretionary gift funds. Departments that are not accustomed to working with community-based partners can seek administrative support from the Population Health Initiative.

If awarded, applicants will be required to submit a mid-project written update to the Population Health Initiative detailing their progress against their project evaluation plan. A final report detailing project accomplishments and final budget reconciliation will be due within 60 calendar days following the end of the funding period.


Applications for Tier 2 grants for projects seeking proof-of-concept will be accepted every winter on the following timeline:

Winter Quarter 2025

  • Letters of Intent Due: January 13, 2025 (11:59 p.m. Pacific)
  • Invited Full Application Due: February 28, 2025
  • Award Notification Made: early April, 2025
  • Period of Performance: June 1, 2025 – May 30, 2026

Review criteria

Successful Tier 2 pilot research grant applications should:

  • Demonstrate how the proposed project will position the project team to secure preliminary data or proof-of-concept.
  • Demonstrate how the proposed interdisciplinary collaboration will address at least two of the three pillars of population health (i.e., human health, environmental resilience and social and economic equity).
  • Propose a framework, methods, approach and analyses that are adequate and appropriate to the aims of the project.
  • Propose a project that is feasible within the 12-month limit.
  • Detail an evaluation plan that clearly describes the outcome the project team is seeking and how it will be used to pursue additional funding or concept development (i.e., the measure of a successful project).

Projects proposing a community-based partnership should also:

  • Demonstrate how the partnership is substantive and bi-directional (i.e., the proposed partner was deeply engaged in the design of the project and will be heavily involved it its execution if funded).

Tier 2 pilot research grant applications are encouraged, but not required, to include the following:

  • Partial or full funding match (in funds or in kind) from the Co-PIs’ schools/colleges/departments.
  • Propose a project that takes place in a community within the State of Washington, which is a priority for the Population Health Initiative.

Eligible 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, with the total number of awards varying cycle-by-cycle. Applications that include matching funds will receive priority in the event that two proposals receive the same review score.


Awards of up to $50,000 in total expenses per project are available from the Population Health Initiative for projects that engage only UW faculty, students and/or staff.

Projects that propose a meaningful partnership with a community-based organization(s) can apply for awards of up to $65,000 in total expenses. Please note: this higher award threshold is not intended to be $50,000 in funding for UW team members and $15,000 for the community partner, but rather is an increase in overall funding that should be equitably distributed to maximize the project’s impact.

School, college and/or departmental matching funds are encouraged but not required. Matching funds can take the form of either discretionary/non-discretionary monies or in-kind support. Other sponsored research projects cannot be counted as matching funds.

Funds will be disbursed to the department of the lead UW co-investigator for day-to-day administration. Budgets must be able to accept non-discretionary gift funds. Departments that are not accustomed to working with community-based partners can seek administrative support from the Population Health Initiative.

Allowed expenses include:

  • Personnel (i.e., salaries and benefits for faculty and students as well as staff at the UW or a community-based organization)
  • Equipment, materials and supplies
  • Travel, including airfare, transportation, and per diem (lodging, meals and expenses)
  • Tuition for graduate students
  • Other direct costs related to the project (must detail the expense and include rationale)

Unallowable expenses include:

  • Indirect/overhead costs
  • Publication and patent cost
  • Office supplies
  • Administrative support
  • Hosting expenses (e.g., receptions, alcohol)
  • Marketing efforts

All allowable expenses must adhere to applicable University of Washington policies. Please contact your department’s finance lead with questions regarding such expenses. In addition, an Office of Sponsored Programs review is not needed prior to submitting an application.

Application format

Letters of intent 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, Calibri 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 letter of intent must contain the following sections:

  1. Title of the proposed project.
  2. Approximate budget request.
  3. Names, titles, email addresses, and organizational affiliation for each member the current project team. More team members can be added at a later date if you are invited to submit a full application.
  4. Overview of proposed research plan for developing preliminary data or proof-of-concept (500 word maximum).

Note: you must have already engaged a community partner at the time of submission of a letter of intent if you are planning to apply for a budget of greater than $50,000.

Download letter of intent template

Submit a letter of intent

Letters of intent for the winter quarter 2024 round of funding can be submitted beginning on January 1, 2023. All letters are due by 11:59 p.m. (Pacific) on January 12, 2024.

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

Review by the Office of Sponsored Programs is not needed.

Submit a letter of intent

Please contact us with any questions regarding this pilot research grant or the application process.

Past Awardees

View the abstracts, mid-year updates and final reports for pilot projects funded to date.

Funded 2017 projects
Funded 2018 projects
Funded 2019 projects
Funded 2020 projects
Funded 2021 projects
Funded 2022 projects
Funded 2023 projects
Funded 2024 projects