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Measuring the Quality of Civic and Political Engagement RFP Submission Guidelines

Investigators are asked to submit a preliminary proposal as the first step in the review process. If the Foundation is interested in the project, the Principal Investigator will be invited to a full proposal.

Deadlines and Review Process

The deadline for preliminary proposals is 4:00pm Central Time, Tuesday, July 1, 2014. A subset of the preliminary proposals will be invited to submit a full proposal. Decisions on preliminary proposals are expected in early August 2014. Invited full proposals will be due by October 7, 2014, with a final funding decision in early April 2015.

Eligibility and Restrictions:
  • Principal Investigators (PIs) and Co-PIs applying for a Grant must have an earned doctorate in an academic discipline or professional field, or appropriate experience in a related profession.
  • The PI must be affiliated with a college, university, school district, non-profit research facility, or non-profit cultural institution that is willing to serve as the fiscal agent if the grant is awarded. The Spencer Foundation does not award grants directly to individuals.
  • Proposals are accepted from the U.S. and internationally, however all proposals must be submitted in English and budgets must be proposed in U.S. Dollars.
  • PIs and Co-PIs may only hold one active grant from the Spencer Foundation at a time. Simultaneous submissions to the Foundation from PIs and Co-PIs are discouraged due to this policy.
Submission Guidelines

The guidelines below are meant to clarify questions about the Spencer Foundation’s online application and provide details about what will be requested. We recommend referencing these guidelines as you complete your preliminary proposal  online. The online system is configured for the Principal Investigator (PI) on the project to register and submit the application. If someone other than the PI will be completing the application (e.g., an administrative assistant), the PI should register as described in Step 1 below, and then provide their username and password to the individual who will assist them with the application.

Step 1 - Registration: If you (the PI) have never accessed the Spencer Foundation online system, you must register and create a profile by going to and clicking the “Register Here” button under the Login box.

Organization – required. This is the organization that you are affiliated with. If the proposal will be administered by a different organization than your home institution, you can change it within the application. As you type in this field, your organization should appear in the list that appears – click on it to auto-fill this field. If your organization is not listed, be sure you are typing the full common name of the organization; no abbreviations or “legal names” (e.g. type “University of Illinois at Chicago” rather than UIC or Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois). If your organization does not appear as you type, you will need to register your organization following the directions provided online.
Email/Username– required. This is your primary email address where you will receive correspondence about your proposal.
First Name – required. Please capitalize the first letter.
Middle Name/Initial – optional. If entering your middle initial, please capitalize it and follow it with a period.
Last Name – required. Please capitalize the first letter.

Once registered, the online system will send you a temporary password. This may take as long as 5 minutes; please be patient. If you do not receive your temporary password within 5 minutes, check your Junk and Spam folders in case the automated email has been flagged as such. Once you receive the temporary password, you can log in and change your password.

Password Requirements – your password must be at least 8 characters long and include at least one of each of the following: a letter, a number, and a special character ( ~ ! @ # $ ^ & * ( ) { } [ ] ; : ' " < > ? ).

Step 2 - My Profile: After logging in, complete the information requested on the My Profile page (upper right corner of the screen) and upload your current CV (10 page limit). The My Profile page is your online account with the Spencer Foundation whether you are applying for a grant, reviewing a proposal for the Foundation, etc. If you have interacted with the Spencer Foundation in the past, you will find that some of the fields are already completed within your profile; update as needed. The following information will be requested on the My Profile page:

  1. Contact Details - This section asks for general information, such as name, organization, email address, title, position, education background, mailing address(es), and phone number(s). You are also required to upload a current copy of your CV (10 page limit) in PDF format (see Tip #2 below).
  2. Profile Data - You are asked to check off the appropriate selections in the following categories: disciplinary perspective, topics, methodologies, as well as some demographic information about yourself.

Once you’ve completed and Saved your My Profile information, click Home to return to the Applicant Workbench.

Important: Co-PIs must also register and complete their profile information as described above.

Step 3 - New Proposal: To create a new draft preliminary proposal application, on the Applicant Workbench click the New Proposal tab on the Home Screen and click the Apply button for The New Civics Measurements Preliminary Proposal Application. Below are two helpful tips for applicants as they work in the online system:

Tip #1: Remember to frequently click the “Save Draft” button at the bottom of the application page. Any changes you make will not be retained until you click the “Save Draft” button; click it often.

Tip #2: You will be required to upload PDF files during this process. If your file name has special characters within it (e.g. period, dash, etc), the file may not upload. Remove all special characters from your file names before attempting to upload them.

The draft  application can be saved and then accessed through the Pending Proposals tab. However, once the Submit button is clicked, the application will no longer be editable.

Measuring the Quality of Civic and Political Engagement RFP Preliminary Proposal Application

The top section of the application page shows the program you are applying to, the PI name, and the Administering Organization. If the Administering Organization is different from your home institution, you may change this field.

View/Print Proposal button – This button creates a view of your draft application which you can export to PDF and download for your files if you like.

Project Personnel - This section reminds you to complete your My Profile page (as in Step 2) and contains the instructions on how to add a Co-PI to the grant application:

  1. Any Co-PI(s) on the project need to first register and fill in their My Profile page in the Spencer online system (as detailed in Steps 1 & 2 above).
  2. Within their My Profile page, they will see a Researcher PIN Number (a long string of numbers and letters, normally ending with a handful of Xs). The Co-PI will need to give this PIN to the PI on the project.
  3. The PI should then log in and open the draft application. In the Project Personnel section, there is an Add Co-PI button that will allow the PI to enter the Researcher PIN and the last name of the Co-PI in order to add them to the application.

Proposal Summary – This section asks for some basic information about the project: 

  • Project Title
  • Requested Amount - auto-populated after the budget form is completed
  • Research Area - auto-populated with Civics Measures
  • Start Date – should be on or after May 1, 2015 and start on the first day of the starting month
  • End Date – should fall on the last day of the ending month
  • Number of months of the project – auto-populated based on the start and end date

Proposal Narrative
The preliminary proposal narrative should be uploaded as a PDF file and should clearly respond to the criteria detailed on pages 7 and 8 of the RFP.

Formatting guidelines: The preliminary proposal narrative may not exceed 2500 words; at the conclusion of the narrative, please note the word count in parentheses. Your reference list should follow your narrative in the same PDF file and will not count toward the 2500 word limit. The text should be double-spaced and in a standard, readable font.

Note: Before clicking the “Edit Budget” button to add your proposed expenses, click the “Save Draft” button at the bottom of the page. This will create a budget form that has the appropriate number of years based on the start and end dates entered in the Proposal Details section.

The budget limit for projects under the Measuring the Quality of Civic and Political Engagement RFP is $400,000, including indirect costs charges. Spencer Foundation policy limits indirect cost charges to no more than 15% of the total direct costs.

Project Data
Check off the appropriate selections with regard to your research project in the following categories: topics, methodologies, disciplinary perspective, subjects/informants, and geographic scope.

If you have additional documents that you would like to attach to your preliminary proposal submission, you are able to upload them as PDF files in this section. Examples of accepted Appendices include survey instruments, interview protocols, letters of agreement, etc.

This section lists the project personnel currently associated with the proposal.

Once you have completed all of the required information within the application  click “Submit” at the bottom of the page. The PI will receive an email acknowledgement once the proposal has been accepted for review (normally within 2 business days).

Online Application
Click here for access to the Spencer Foundation’s online application system.