Year of Engagement Funding Opportunity FAQs

Here we present a list of questions and answers that may arise as you consider applying for the Year of Engagement funding opportunity.

What is the Year of Engagement and its goals?

The Year of Engagement is an unprecedented opportunity to position the University of Pittsburgh as a global leader in engagement. The Funding Committee invites students, staff and faculty to build partnerships that confront challenges and co-create solutions at the institutional, local, regional, statewide, national or international levels 2020-21 academic year and beyond.

What is the Year of Engagement Funding Opportunity?

The Steering Committee for the University of Pittsburgh Year of Engagement invites funding requests for $500 up to $8,000 to support programs, events, productions, curricula, convenings, experiments, operational improvements, practices, research, product development and other possibilities toward reaching Year of Engagement goals are invited. Proposals should indicate how applicants would match the grant through with funds, materials, equipment, space, or other contributions commensurate with or greater than the amount requested.

Where do I apply for Year of Engagement Funding Opportunity?

All applications for Year of Engagement funding must be submitted here.

Who is eligible to apply for Year of Engagement funding?

Students (graduate and undergraduate), faculty, and staff at all University of Pittsburgh campuses.

What information do I need to provide with my application?

Applicants must submit a completed application which includes: (1) the Qualtrics survey that can be accessed here, and (2) a detailed budget that demonstrates all sources of funding currently secured or applied for in addition to funding requested from the Year of Engagement, and 3) letter(s) of support from the partner(s) or co-creator(s). The budget template can be downloaded here.

Applicants may also include supplemental materials that complement the proposal. Such supplemental materials are not required.

The submission form will ask for the applicant’s contact information and a University account number (if known) where funds can be deposited if awarded.

When can I apply for Year of Engagement funding?

The Year of Engagement Request for Proposals launched on September 1, 2020 and proposals will be funded in three rounds.

Funding Round Submission deadline Awardees announced
1st October 1, 2020 Ongoing until October 15, 2020
2nd December 1, 2020 Ongoing until December 15, 2020
3rd February 1, 2021 Ongoing until February 15, 2021
If I as a student, or my group, is awarded funds, how do we receive the funding?

Student groups on the Pittsburgh campus are provided an account number by the Student Organization Resource Center. Please contact that office to find out the appropriate University account number to which the Office of the Provost may transfer funds.

Students on the regional campuses should contact the Business Office and the Office of Student Affairs on their respective campus.

If your proposal is not affiliated with an official student group, funding can be released to your department. For example, a student in the English Department who proposes a project of their own can, with the approval of the Department, have awarded funds dispersed to the English Department; the Department would then handle dispersal of funds to the student. Students should come to an agreement with their Department before funds are requested.

If I am faculty or staff, am I required to provide a letter of support from my department chair or supervisor?

Staff and faculty should follow their unit’s standard guidelines and practices when applying for University opportunities of this sort. While the application process for this funding opportunity does not require a letter of support from the department chair or supervisor, that practice may be the standard for your department and should then be followed. Such letters can be submitted as supplemental material through the submission portal. The committee recommends alerting your chair/supervisor and your financial administrator prior to submitting an application.

What does the Steering Committee mean by engagement?

Definition of Engagement: Engagement means co-creating opportunities and partnerships that produce ideas and initiatives, resulting in long-lasting and impactful change to our campus and our world.

What are some qualities of a successful proposal?

We seek proposals that address following areas:

  • Support/expand existing partnerships or develop new partnerships that are innovative in terms of composition or goals.
  • Meet a need (as identified by project team) that will result in measurable outcomes
  • Generate new knowledge and understanding, including teaching/learning, research, and creative activities, about and/or through Engaged Scholarship – scholarship that explicitly combines academic and community-based knowledge.
  • Provide tangible benefits that will continue to support engagement and knowledge production and be sustainable beyond the Year of Engagement.

More specific information is found in the Request for Proposals.

How will proposals be evaluated?

Proposals will be assessed according to the following criteria:

1. Partnership

a.     Co-created and equal
b.     Mutual benefit
c.     Novel teaming or novel opportunity
d.     Mix of partners (students, staff, faculty, communities, alumni, industry, government, etc.)

2. Scholarship

a.     Generates new knowledge/understanding
b.     Interdisciplinary composition
c.     Targets current challenges

3. Evidence/Outcome

a.     Supporting evidence of need (urgency and magnitude of need)
b.     Clearly defined and measurable outcomes
c.     How will outcomes be measured and who will measure them
d.     Potential impact

4. Sustainable Benefit

a.     Strategic tie-in with programs or existing infrastructure
b.     Sustainability beyond the Year of Engagement
c.     Implement long lasting changes (institutional or public policy change, organizational, structural)

My proposal did not receive funding. Can I revise and resubmit?

Yes. If your proposal is not accepted, we encourage you to take advantage of resubmission opportunities in the following round of funding.

I want to use Year of Engagement funds to buy equipment for our project or event. Is this allowed?

Equipment purchased with University funds belongs to the University. If your budget includes equipment to be purchased with Year of Engagement funds, please make sure the narrative states which University department has agreed to take on the equipment after your project or event is complete.

Does the University have technology/equipment that I can borrow for my project so that I can focus my proposal’s budget on other materials and way to actively engage participants in the effort?

Yes. Hillman Library Equipment Office and the Center for Teaching and Learning have equipment that can be used by University faculty staff and students.

I want to use Year of Engagement funds to provide food or cover catering cost for our project/event. Is this allowed?

While not prohibited, this will be considered on a case by case basis. We understand the value of food in developing a sense of engagement with others, but we are primarily interested in using Year of Engagement funds to make possible opportunities for new connections, partnerships, and opportunities. For events open to the student body, we suggest you consider applying for the Donated Food Services program administered by the Department of Housing, Food Services, and Panther Central. View the guidelines and application for this program.

Can YOE funds be used for staff/faculty salary support?


Can YOE funds be used to support student workers?


What kind of costs does the committee anticipate?

We recognize that under the current circumstances, the costs and needs for proposers would be unique. It is important to qualify and justify the need.

Are projects required to comply with the University’s Resilience Framework during the COVID-19 crisis?

Yes, please see

Can funds be used to support external community partner’s expenses?


Can funds be used for interdepartmental cost sharing arrangements?


Can the proposed project be an “add value” to an existing program or project?


Will grant funds be distributed in a single payment?


Must awarded funds be expended during the 2020-2021 academic year?


Other questions?

This FAQ is a work in progress, and we welcome additional questions. Please email