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Projects for Progress - Frequently Asked Questions

Q) What is the application timeline?

  • The Projects for Progress application, complete with all required information and documents, must be submitted by 5:00 PM EST on Monday, March 1, 2021.
  • This is a new initiative, and we recognize that the planning timeline is relatively short for this first year. We only ask that you do your best with the time that is available, and we thank you for your interest.
  • The application period will begin on Monday, February 15, 2021.
  • Semifinalists may be contacted with a request to submit additional information.
  • Finalists will be contacted with instructions to prepare a live presentation for the Selection Committee, followed by Q&A.
  • TENTATIVELY, semifinalists are to be identified in April 2021, then finalists and subsequently prize recipients are to be identified in May 2021.


Q) Who is eligible to apply?

  • Applications must be submitted by teams of at least three and no more than five individuals.
  • Teams are strongly encouraged to take full advantage of the breadth of perspectives, life experiences, and academic expertise represented across and throughout the University to help inform their proposals. In the spirit of Penn Integrating Knowledge, interdisciplinary teams as well as those that include more than one type of affiliation (students/staff/faculty) across the team will receive priority consideration.
  • All listed team members are expected to contribute in a meaningful way and to participate in good faith in the development of the proposal, as well as in its full execution if selected for a prize.
  • Each team member must be (at least) one of the following:
    • A current Penn student in good standing who is enrolled in and has completed
      • at least one year/8 c.u. in a degree-bearing undergraduate academic program, or
      • at least one third of the required credits towards a degree-bearing graduate/professional academic program;
    • A current full time Penn staff or faculty employee who has been employed as such for at least one year.
  • Graduating Penn seniors (undergraduate students scheduled to graduate in May 2021 or August 2021) are strongly encouraged to apply for the President’s Engagement Prize or the President’s Innovation Prize. No student may apply for more than one of the following: Projects for Progress, the President’s Engagement Prize, or the President’s Innovation Prize.
  • No individual may be a member of more than one Projects for Progress application team.
  • Penn employee applicants must refer to Penn’s Principles of Responsible Conduct from the Office of Institutional Compliance, including but not limited to the section on Conflict of Interest under “Guidelines for Extramural Activities, Associations, and Interest for Staff.


Q) What should the proposal include?

  • For 2021, every proposal must:
    • Be clearly and directly related to – and demonstrate understanding of – one or more of the following three goals:
      • Eradicating or reducing systemic racism
      • Achieving educational equity
      • Reducing health disparities based on race, gender, sexual orientation, and/or social determinants of health.
    • Demonstrate intended impact in Philadelphia, whether at Penn in particular or more broadly anywhere in the city.
    • Be original and of the applicants’ own creation.
    • Be planned from conception through execution with a budget not to exceed $100,000. Proposals with project budgets in excess of $100,000 will not be considered. Budgets for winning proposals will be refined during the planning period after selection of the prize recipients.
    • Be feasible to begin within six months of being named as a prize recipient.

Q) What information and documents are required in the application?

  • 8-digit Penn ID, e-mail address, full name, résumé, and Penn affiliation (student/staff/faculty) of each team member.
  • Department and title for staff/faculty team memers, and anticipated graduation year for any student members.
  • Project Name.
  • The following information, combined into one .pdf document:
    • Project Proposal, not to exceed 1500 words. Please include data and information sources relevant to the issue or any element of the proposed solution (Penn research is particularly helpful where applicable). Citations/URLs do not count as part of your 1500 words. No appendices, please.
      • Consider the following questions: What specific challenge would this project address, and for whom? What would be its immediate impact? What would be its potential continued impact after any prize funds have been depleted? How would you measure said impact? What makes it unique and useful in light of other existing initiatives? How might your team minimize the ecological footprint of this project?
      • Proposals should demonstrate a deeper-than-surface-level understanding of the broader issue the initiative is meant to address with some acknowledgement of its underlying complexities.
    • Budget Proposal spreadsheet using this template.
    • Budget Justification not to exceed 500 words. Detail in narrative form how your team would put to use the funds from this prize.
    • A résumé from each team member.
  • Each team member must procure a recommendation from a full time Penn faculty or staff member. It can be from any full time employee who knows you well enough to genuinely speak on your behalf.
    • To submit, EACH team member must:
    • Recommendations must be received by 5pm EST on Monday, March 15, 2021 (REMINDER: the team’s application deadline is March 1, 2021)
  • Additional content where applicable:
    • If the proposal includes a pre-existing initiative, you will be asked to provide activity and funding information to date.
    • If your team’s proposal involves collaboration with an existing external organization, you must provide the name and contact information for the organization’s current employee with whom you have discussed this, and procure from them a letter confirming the possibility.
      • To submit, the primary team member who submitted the application must:
      • External organization prospective collaboration letters must be received by 5pm EST on Monday, March 15, 2021 (REMINDER: the team’s application deadline is March 1, 2021)
    • Any team comprised exclusively of students must indicate a full time member of Penn’s faculty or staff who has agreed to serve as Team Mentor, and who will submit a letter confirming this intention.
      • To submit, the primary team member who submitted the application must:
      • Mentor intent letters must be received by 5pm EST on Monday, March 15, 2021 (REMINDER: the team’s application deadline is March 1, 2021)
  • The following confirmation is included in the application:
    • By submitting this application, I represent that:
    • I and all team members have read and understood the terms and conditions outlined in the Projects for Progress FAQ;
    • Any student team members grant permission for the Office of Social Equity & Community and any designated members of the Selection Committee to access and view their unofficial Penn transcripts, and may be contacted to request a copy;
    • I and all team members have been provided the links to locate the University of Pennsylvania’s Copyright Policy and Patent and Tangible Research Policy;
    • This proposal does not infringe any copyright, violate any proprietary rights, contain any libelous matter, invade the privacy of any person or third party, or otherwise violate University of Pennsylvania Policy or applicable law; and
    • I and all team members will complete any additional necessary paperwork to memorialize the terms and conditions for receipt of these awarded funds.

Q) Who submits the team’s application?

  • One team member will serve as Primary Contact and submit the application with all required documents compiled on behalf of the team. With this in mind, please ensure that this individual has received all other required information from individual team members in advance of the deadline.
  • Teams are strongly encouraged to prepare and review the Project Proposal, the Budget Proposal, and the Budget Justification with input from all individual members prior to application submission.

Q) What are the evaluation criteria?

The Office of Social Equity & Community will coordinate initial review with consultation from the Selection Committee based on criteria including:  

  • Appropriateness of the proposal to the purpose of the award.  
  • Feasibility of the proposed project.
  • Preparedness of the applicants, including but not limited to a student’s academic performance at Penn, a Penn employee’s professional experience, and the strength of any team member’s prior record of engagement with social issues. 
  • Strength of the recommendations and engagement with the proposed project.  
  • Such other factors as the Office of Social Equity & Community may deem appropriate to assess the contributions of the applicants and the project to the overall goals of the award. 

The Selection Committee will conduct subsequent evaluation of semifinalists and finalists based on criteria including:  

  • The project’s potential impact for progress with regard to the articulated inequities that the Projects for Progress are seeking to address.
  • The project’s exemplification of the Penn Compact 2020’s commitment to local, national, and global engagement.
  • The strength of the individual team members’ commitment to the project.
  • Such other factors as the Selection Committee may deem appropriate to assess the contributions of the applicants and the project to the overall goals of the award.   

The Selection Committee will consist of representatives from:

  • The School of Social Policy & Practice
  • The Graduate School of Education
  • Penn Nursing
  • The Perelman School of Medicine
  • The Netter Center
  • Civic House
  • The Vice Provost for University Life
  • The Office of the General Counsel

Q) What can prize recipients expect after being named?

  • Upon designation as an award recipient, each member of the team must indicate in writing their acceptance of the prize, commitment to the project, and agreement to the terms and conditions of the award. During the 1-3 months immediately following the award designation, the team must develop and submit a detailed plan for implementation of the proposed project including final project budget, any necessary third-party commitments, and any preparatory arrangements for carrying out the project.
  • Acceptance of a Projects for Progress award indicates acknowledgement of and agreement to the University’s Copyright Policy, and Patent and Tangible Research Policy, subject to the modifications and agreements between the University and project applicants to further the goals of Projects for Progress.
  • Detailed plans must be reviewed and approved by the Office of Social Equity & Community prior to disbursement of funds.  
  • Recipients will be required to submit a written report on their progress every two months following the disbursement of funds and continuing through to project completion, followed by a post-project assessment to summarize results and the project as a whole. Additional reporting requirements may be imposed by the Office of Social Equity & Community in consultation with the Provost and the President.    

Q) How will funds be disbursed to prize recipients?

  • Funds will be disbursed to prize recipients through internal transfer with the applicant’s budget administrator if the team’s Primary Contact is a university employee, or through coordination with the Office of Student Affairs if the team’s Primary Contact is a student. 
  • Funds will be disbursed in two installments roughly six months apart. The first is likely to be distributed within three months of being named a recipient, though this may vary depending upon the needs of the project.
  • Funds may NOT be used to pay costs incurred prior to the effective date of the project implementation period (July 1, 2021).
  • Funds may NOT be used towards living expenses or other any other personal expenses.

Q) What else should our team know before applying?

  • Under the University of Pennsylvania’s Copyright Policy, which is similar to policies of most academic institutions, creators “own the copyright to works resulting from their research, teaching, and writing,” with the noted exceptions. Consistent with that policy, and apart from University course, program, and school arrangements that specify a different ownership model, the copyrightable materials that could result from a selected project proposal that are created without substantial use of University resources are owned by the project participants. If the use of substantial University resources is proposed or anticipated, discussion and agreement on copyright ownership will be part of the application and selection process. Although the Copyright Policy usually applies to faculty, since these projects may involve a team comprised of faculty, staff, and students working together, the same policies are anticipated to be applied to all project participants.
  • While it is less likely that a patentable invention would result from a Project for Progress, if there is a patentable invention resulting from the award-funded work, ownership of the patentable invention will be administered pursuant to the terms of the University of Pennsylvania’s Patent and Tangible Research Property Policy, and consistent with the goals of the program.
  • The goal of Projects for Progress is to encourage teams of faculty, staff, and students, to work together to design and implement new projects based on innovative research that will advance our aim of a more inclusive University and community. To facilitate this goal, award recipients are expected to allow the University the right to reproduce, distribute, and display the material resulting from a project on a nonexclusive, royalty free basis, for all traditional, customary, or reasonable academic uses in furtherance of the University’s mission, including promotional uses. The University will not sell or transfer the selected project for financial gain.
  • Award recipients are expected to acknowledge the support of the University and the Projects for Progress award in any publications arising from the project as a condition of receipt of the awarded funds. Award recipients may also be asked to sign additional paperwork to facilitate the University’s ability to promote, implement, and otherwise administer the project.
  • The University reserves the right to use and distribute the interim and final reports on the award recipients’ projects for any purpose, including in administration, teaching, publications, and promotional activities.

Q) What if we have additional questions that are not answered above?