Community-University Research Partnership Grants for New Brunswick 2018-2019

2018–2019 Grant Recipients

Documenting Past and Present Public Opinion in New Brunswick to Enrich the City’s Future
Rutgers co-director: Ashley Koning, Eagleton Institute of Politics
Community co-director: Jaymie Santiago, New Brunswick Tomorrow

The Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling and New Brunswick Tomorrow have collaborated for four decades on the New Brunswick Community Survey, which polls residents on the current state of the city; however, this data has never been systematically catalogued. This project will create a data archive of the 19 existing iterations of the survey, providing insight into the evolution of the quality of life, safety, health, youth development, education, and general wellness in New Brunswick over time. The data will be available to local stakeholders and the public, will help map the strategic plan of New Brunswick Tomorrow going forward, and will provide measures of accountability for future programs in areas like health, education, and safety.


Creating an Environmental Science Community School
Rutgers co-director: Michael J. Camasso, Department of Agricultural, Food & Resource Economics
Community co-director: Janene Rodriguez, McKinley School, New Brunswick Public Schools

This project will expand the reach of Nature thru Nurture (NtN), a program encouraging students grades 4 through 8 to engage in scientific exploration, from its current 15 participants at New Brunswick's McKinley School to the entire 900-student population. Rutgers and school stakeholders will develop a framework for curriculum (including topics like environmental science, sustainability, land and water use, global environmental change, and more), McKinley students will have the opportunity to visit SEBS labs, and SEBS faculty will visit and teach at McKinley. The goal is to increase student interest in environmental science and STEM fields.


Promoting School Readiness through Developmental Monitoring and Language Promotion
Rutgers co-director: Manuel Jimenez, Department of Pediatrics, Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School
Community co-director: David J. Harris, The Mae J. Strong Child Development Center

Children from urban settings like New Brunswick are at an elevated risk for developmental delays that can limit their school readiness. This project will pilot test an intervention plan that encourages parents to both monitor their child’s development and promote development through activities like reading daily. The project will distribute developmental monitoring materials as well as age- and language-appropriate children's books, and send two text message reminders per week to parents as reminders. The project will then measure whether this intervention enhances parent knowledge about child development as well as the cognitive environment in the home. Moreover, it has the potential to impact school readiness and well-being for young children in New Brunswick.


Windows of Understanding: A Creative and Community-building Approach to Addressing Hate
Rutgers co-director: Marc Handelman, Department of Visual Arts
Community co-director: Tracey O’Reggio Clark, New Brunswick Cultural Center and New Brunswick Arts Council

Windows of Understanding is a program that will promote awareness and compassion around an array of social justice issues via original art displays in local storefronts of area businesses. The project will also include walking tours, Tables of Understanding events at restaurants, performances, poetry readings, educational workshops, and screenings that will complement the art displays. Ultimately, Windows of Understanding will challenge artists, organizations, and community members alike to engage in new and difficult conversations by amplifying underrepresented voices, encouraging cross-cultural dialogues, and bridging differences within the community. It aims to engage roughly 30 organizations across the city.


Union Management Collaborative for School Improvement
Rutgers co-director: Saul Rubinstein, Labor Studies and Employment Relations
Community co-director: Aubrey Johnson, New Brunswick Public Schools; Nancy Coppola, New Brunswick Education Association

Rutgers has conducted extensive research on the impact of partnerships between teachers unions and school management on education reform. What they found was that effective partnerships can impact educator collaboration, student achievement, and teacher turnover; however, achieving such partnerships has historically been a challenge, nationwide. This project will bring together Rutgers researchers, school administrators, and the teachers union to apply these findings in New Brunswick. It will put research to practice in all 12 New Brunswick Public Schools, via capacity-building workshops and follow-up support workshops focused on problem-solving, conflict resolutions, communication, planning, organization change, decision making, leadership, and meeting skills. 

Community-University Research Partnership Grants Overview

Significant benefits ensue when universities and communities collaborate on research resulting in both scholarly publication and community action. Recognizing Rutgers’ responsibility to be a strong partner in New Brunswick, the Office of Community Affairs is administering a grant program with awards up to $25,000 to support community-based research.

Community-University Research Partnership Grants for New Brunswick will do the following:

  • Address one or more of the following topics: public health, safety and wellness; cultures and diversity; sustainability and innovation; and citizenship, leadership and youth development.
  • Involve a partnership between a Rutgers faculty member and an identified community organization
  • Yield results both scholarly and practical, of benefit to the community
  • Utilize the best practices for community-university research practices

Community Partners
Proposals require clear evidence of a strong commitment from at least one community partner that will be directly involved in the project. A “community partner” is defined as a nonprofit group or public entity residing in New Brunswick and providing local services. Community partners may be required to provide proof of their 501c3 status.

Who Can Apply
Although a faculty member or a community organization may initiate ideas for proposals, a Rutgers faculty member must write and submit the proposal, actively serve as the P.I., and assume financial responsibility for the project.

Tenured, tenure-track, and full-time clinical and research (supported by non-state funding) faculty are eligible to apply. Faculty members who submit proposals must actively serve as the proposed project’s co-director and may not sponsor a project that will be conducted by someone else. Community organization representatives, administrators, and students can participate as project co-directors with a faculty member.

Award Timeline

  • The application period for 2018–2019 has passed.
  • The funding cycle is from July 1, 2018–June 30, 2019.
Submission Requirements
  • Electronic submissions are required.
  • Application packets should be saved as one PDF document and submitted through the NB Grant Application site in Sakai.
  • Application packets must include:
    • completed grant application form no longer than four pages
    • completed budget form
    • letter of endorsement and commitment from the community partner organization
    • an abbreviated CV of the P.I. that demonstrates related research (two pages maximum)


Selection Criteria

Evaluation of proposals will be made by the University Engagement Committee–New Brunswick (in consultation with community partners). Proposals should have a direct and demonstrable positive impact on residents of New Brunswick. These grants are designed to foster new programs, research, and partnerships; however, grants may be awarded to a new facet of an existing program or initiative if it expands or enhances the project substantially.

Successful partnerships are all marked by common characteristics, whether a project is large or small, simple or complex, or research- or service-based. Successful proposals will embrace the following:

Mutual respect and trust grow from the belief that each party brings valuable assets to the collaboration and values the other’s interests as equal to its own. Clear communication incorporates both effective practices and meaningful discourse to bridge differences in language, culture, and tradition as well as address the unique organizational constraints and capabilities of each partner.


The most effective partnerships incorporate practices that are known to support success and avoid problems. Best practices include the following:

Establishing mutually agreed upon goals and strategies for achieving the purpose of the research and fulfilling the needs of each partner. Creating effective communication structures that express clear expectations, recognize progress, and allow constructive feedback. Defining roles, responsibilities, and expectations and documenting them in a written agreement appropriate to the size and scope of the project. Establishing agreement on the disposition of data, including its ownership, interpretation, and dissemination. Developing a plan for reporting research findings that is agreeable to all partners, especially when those findings might be sensitive for the community.
  • Flexibility allows partners to manage unexpected changes while remaining focused on achieving the project’s goals.
  • Cultural understanding extends to an appreciation that community organizations differ from each other—and from academia—in fundamental ways, from goals and values to timelines and staffing.
  • Shared authority for assigning roles and responsibilities allows all partners to feel comfortable deferring to others in support of the wider goals of the project.
  • Reciprocity—values the goals of both the community (positive change) and the university (new knowledge)—ensuring that all partners are equally invested. 



Grant recipients must submit a mid-year update by January 2, 2019, and a final report by September 1, 2019. Mid-year reports should be no longer than one page and include a project status including activities, meetings, milestones, and concerns.

Final reports should contain clear statements about research accomplishments, active outcomes, contributions to the community and constituencies served, and research publication plans in addition to a complete budget accounting. Final reports may be no more than four pages in Times New Roman font, at 11 pt. size or greater.

Budget Guidelines
  • Use the attached budget form when submitting your proposed budget. You may attach a brief statement explaining items within your budget, if needed.
  • Budgetary oversight and control will reside with your collegiate department or appropriate dean’s office. Consult with these units when developing your budget proposal.
  • Resources are state funds and thus are subject to the rules and policies governing state funding. No permanent hiring may be done.
  • Budget categories must include only one-time costs. Grant funds are temporary and may not be used for permanent on-going costs.
  • When developing your proposal, consider unanticipated or “hidden” costs. For instance, consider the costs of supplies, postage, mailings, etc. No additional support will be available for unanticipated expenses.
  • Non-fundable expenses include student tuition, conference attendance, course buyouts, meals/food not directly related to project programming, indirect costs, and expenses that occurred prior to approval of the project.
  • Fundable expenses include costs incurred by community partners, summer salary for faculty, and hourly wages for post-doc, graduate and undergraduate students, or part-time employees. Remember to budget for applicable fringe costs.
  • Awarded funds will be transferred to the appropriate department once all required paperwork is received by the Office of Community Affairs.
  • Any funds remaining at the end of the project must be returned.
  • Some awards may be less than the requested amount.

Support and Questions
The Office of Community Affairs serves as the coordinating office for this grant program. For more information contact Melissa Selesky, Senior Director, Office of Community Affairs at 848-445-1961 or