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Small Grants Program

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The small grants program of the Polson Institute for Global Development is designed to expand and support the research activities of faculty, associates, and graduate students in the department. There are two rounds of competition for small grant funds each year, with application deadlines on October 1 (with awards announced by November 1) and March 1 (with awards announced by April 1). Funds may be used for seed funding for new research projects or to support special lectures, workshops, or seminars that contribute to the intellectual life of the department.


Funds can be used to support research expenses and expenses related to campus conferences, workshops, seminars, and other events. Grant funds cannot be used to cover salary replacement, summer salary, graduate student assistantships, off-campus conference participation, on-going program-related expenses, equipment, and dissertation research.


Faculty, senior associates, and graduate students in the department are eligible to apply to the small grants program. While the principal investigator on the proposal must be a member of the Department of Development Sociology, projects may support collaborations across campus and beyond.


During the grant period or following completion of research activities, awardees are required to present a white paper or summary report to the Institute that will be posted on our webpage, and/or to hold a public seminar or another activity (e.g. panel discussion, workshop, conference) that is open to the public. Applicants should indicate in the application how they intend to meet this requirement.


In reviewing applications, the Polson Steering Committee will consider the following:

  • Overall strength of the application in terms of the quality and significance of the research or activity proposed;
  • Collective benefit of the activity to the department, including plans for public presentation or dissemination; and
  • Feasibility of the project and potential for on-going research activity stemming from the initial seed funding.


$500 to $5,000


All funds must be used within one year of the award date. A one-year no-cost extension may be requested by submitting a summary of accomplishments as well as a plan and timeline for completion of the remaining activities. Approval of the extension and the duration of the extension will be determined by the Polson Institute Steering Committee.


Interested faculty, senior associates or graduate students should submit a proposal that includes, in one continuous document, the following:

  1. Small Grants Proposal Form (available on-line)
  2. Project description, including objectives, activities, work plan, expected outputs and deliverables to the Polson Institute, beneficiaries, and impact (not to exceed 1,500 words)
  3. Budget with justification of expenses
  4. Curriculum Vitae for principal investigator(s)
  5. Human subjects approval if necessary

Click here to access the Small Grants Proposal Form.


Proposals should be submitted electronically before 11:59 PM on the deadline dates to polsoninstitute@cornell.edu.