2017 Teaching & Engagement | Request for Proposals

2017 Teaching & Engagement

Thank you for your interest in the 2017 Rural Futures Institute Teaching & Engagement Awards Program. As it is after 4:00 pm CST on Wednesday, March 1, we are no longer accepting proposal submissions.

  • Up to five awards will be made with $20,000 maximum per award.
  • The project time period will not exceed 24 months.
  • Each program/project/course must be delivered twice during the two years.

If you have questions about the submission process, please contact Kim Peterson kpeterson@nebraska.edu or call 402-472-9287.

The University of Nebraska is committed to establishing a transformative Rural Futures Institute (RFI). RFI's vision, mission and core values are the fundamental underpinnings for this request for proposals.


RFI will be a locally, nationally and internationally recognized leader focused on increasing community capacity as well as the hope and confidence of rural people to address their challenges and opportunities, resulting in resilient and sustainable futures.


Through a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship, RFI mobilizes the diverse resources of the University of Nebraska and its partners to support rural communities and regions in building upon their unique strengths and assets to achieve their desired futures.

Core Values

The work commissioned and supported by RFI must be guided by the Institute’s core values:
  • Bold
  • Transdisciplinary
  • Innovative
  • Agile
  • Collaborative
  • Reflective
The purpose of RFI Teaching & Engagement Competitive Awards is to foster the development of civic engagement in both students and community partners. Inherent to the vision, mission, and core values of RFI, the awards program particularly encourages rural community members in partnership with higher education institutions to seek funding that results in college students involvement in providing services to help meet the community’s needs. Faculty and staff seeking funding should ensure that any civic engagement or service learning endeavor integrates meaningful student service experiences into the curriculum and, in the case of service learning, builds curriculum-based reflection activities to enhance student learning. RFI will assist in identifying potential partners, if asked. Project proposals must focus on involving students in one or more of the following areas:

a) Civic Engagement

Implement civic engagement efforts into new or existing programs to develop RFI's core values in both communities and partnering campuses. For example, involving partners in recruitment/retention programs; creating learning communities that include civic engagement in the design; establishing diversity initiatives that explicitly link active and collaborative community-based teaching and learning with the academic success of underrepresented students or internship programs in rural communities. Community partners are particularly encouraged to seek, in conjunction with participating campuses or institutions of higher education, funding for the civic engagement portion of the teaching and learning award funding.

b) Undergraduate & Graduate Service Learning

Applicants must enhance curriculum by designing new course(s) or revising an existing course(s) with a partner agency to include a service learning component. Service learning is a transformational pedagogy that integrates service in the community with academic study. Faculty, in partnership with community representatives, design service learning projects based on two main objectives:
  • meeting identified community needs, which helps strengthen the community;
  • advancing student understanding of course content through real world experiences.
Strong reflective components should be built into the course to help students consider the relationships among their service, the course curriculum, and its impact on their personal values and professional goals. See the following websites for information and examples of service learning:

c) Undergraduate & Graduate Student Community-based Research

Applicants must develop and initiate a community-based research project focused on advancing the field of civic engagement through service learning by addressing a community identified need/issue.
  • University faculty and staff as well as Nebraska community members and non-NU higher education faculty/staff are welcome to apply, however, either the Principal Investigator (PI) or a co-Principal Investigator (co-PI) must be affiliated with NU and take responsibility for administering the award funds.
  • Collaboration with partners external to the University of Nebraska is strongly encouraged.
  • An individual may serve as the PI for only one proposal but may serve as a (co-PI) on one or more proposals.
Proposals will be reviewed by a panel that will include representation from the University of Nebraska’s four campuses who have expertise in service learning, civic engagement, and a clear understanding of RFI's vision, mission and core values. The panel will prioritize applications for funding based upon the selection criteria provided in Section V of this RFP. Final selections will be made by the RFI Executive Director.
  1. Potential to result in contributions to and measurable outcomes consistent with the RFI vision and mission.
  2. Compatibility with the RFI core values, especially reflective and collaborative.
  3. Potential for student learning, addressing rural community needs/issues, advancing the field of civic engagement, and advancing professional development of the applicants.
  4. Potential for establishing and sustaining the program/project/course(s) to continue after the grant period.
  5. Matching funds are not required but may increase the likelihood of funding success.
Those proposals ultimately funded will have certain expectations of the PI and the key personnel including the following:
  • Recipients are expected to participate in a working group composed of RFI Teaching & Engagement award recipients. It is anticipated that group will gather at least once a year to share ‘best practices’ around innovative and creative processes and strategies unique to engaged teaching.
  • Recipients are expected to conduct their program/project/course during both years of the project.
  • Recipients are expected to demonstrate impact by sharing their engaged teaching/research at a number of venues including conferences, such as the Rural Futures Conference, and in refereed publications. In addition, the PI is expected to work with both the RFI Director of Competitive Awards and the RFI Director of Communications on external communications opportunities (white papers, interviews, recorded presentation, lecture, webinar, etc.) to share project results/findings with the broader RFI audience.
  • A final report is required and due to RFI no later than one month following the conclusion of funding.
  • The project should be completed within 24 months and extensions are discouraged and will only be considered for extreme circumstances (6 months maximum).
Funds may be used for wages and salaries of faculty and staff (provided the award is not used to generate salary savings*), graduate and undergraduate students and other key personnel, as well as operating expenses such as databases, supplies and travel that are directly related to the project.

Funds may not be used for any of the following purposes:

  • To replace current funding*;
  • Remodeling, renovation or construction;
  • Recruitment or start-up packages for new hires; and
  • Items for purposes not exclusive to the project, such as desktop or laptop computers, iPads, printers, software and related accessories and general office supplies.
* In general, RFI funding cannot be used to replace current salary funding. Exceptions can be made if the salary savings are needed to backfill positions that allow the PI or other team members to meet current program commitments. Summer salary or positions funded with “soft” dollars are allowed. Exceptions should be explained in the Budget Justification section.
Click here to:
  • Enter title page information using the online form
  • Upload proposal information as a single PDF document

1. Title Page Information

(entered online, required for submission)
  • Title
  • Total Request Amount ($)
  • Principal Investigator (Name, Affiliation, Telephone & Email)
  • Co-Principal Investigator(s) (Name, Affiliation, Telephone & Email)
  • Other Partners (if applicable)

2. Project Description

The project description is limited to three single-spaced pages, using Times New Roman (or similar) 11-point font and one-inch borders in a PDF format. The project description should describe the proposed program/project/course(s) as it relates to one or more of the following three focus areas, clearly addressing the issues listed in the area below that will be the focus of the project. The plan must include a project timeline.

Undergraduate and Graduate Service Learning

  • Include a course description and learning outcomes.
  • Provide a clear rationale for why and how service learning should be integrated into the course(s).
  • Describe the reflection activities that clearly link the service experience with the learning objectives of the course.
  • Provide evidence for the sustainability of the course after the grant period ends.

Undergraduate and Graduate Student Research

  • Describe the community-based project.
  • Describe how the project integrates with teaching and professional service.
  • Describe student roles in the project and the reflective activities structured to link the service experience with the learning.
  • Provide evidence for project sustainability.
  • Describe how the results will be communicated.

Civic Engagement

  • Include a description of the engagement program and expected outcomes (recruitment/retention rates, diversity focused learning objectives, etc.).
  • Provide a clear rationale for why and how the engagement activities are integrated into the program.
  • Provide evidence for the sustainability of the program after the grant period ends.

List the project's long-term and short-term goals related to:

  • Student learning;
  • Furthering institutional and departmental goals toward institutionalization of civic engagement and service learning;
  • Addressing community needs/issues;
  • Advancing the field of civic engagement and service learning as the pedagogy of engagement; and
  • Community partnerships including the role of community representatives in the design and implementation of the program/project/course(s).
Note: References cited in Project Description are included in the three-page limit and should conform to an accepted journal format.

3. Project Budget

Provide a one-page budget in which personnel and operating expenditures are identified and explained.

4. Biographical Materials

Provide up to a two-page biographical sketch/vitae for each PI/co-PIs. Do not exceed two pages per person.

Proposal Deadline:
March 1, 2017, 4:00 PM CST

Award Notification:
May 1, 2017

Start Date:
July 1, 2017