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Promising Partnerships

Request for proposals

Award type

Community collaboration grant

Funds available up to


Application deadline

September18, 2020, 3:00 PM EST

Maximum project period

6 months

Boston BRI…DGE (Building Research Infrastructure…Developing Genuine Engagement) is a community-engaged partnered research program of the Center for Community Health Education Research and Service, Inc. (CCHERS). In January 2019, Boston BRI…DGE received its second Engagement Award from the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI)® to support capacity of patients and community members to become fully engaged in research partnerships and governance. 

Community-based organizations often struggle to build a significant research portfolio and tap into large funding sources. This may occur because of difficulty forming equitable relationships with researchers, the lack of preliminary data, and unfamiliarity with research oversight regulations. CCHERS’ current PCORI® Engagement Award presents an opportunity for Boston BRI…DGE to tackle these challenges by providing pilot grant funding and educational support for community-based organizations interested in advancing their community-initiated research partnerships with academia. We call this initiative the Promising Partnerships.

The Promising Partnerships is the Boston BRI…DGE’s pilot grant funding to accelerate partnerships between community-based organizations and academic community-oriented researchers. Through a competitive award process, selected grantees will receive seed funding and training support to foster a community-academic collaboration and perform preliminary work that will likely lead to a competitive research proposal for larger grant applications at the completion of the project period. Some examples of the larger funding resources are PCORI, National Institute of Health (NIH), Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), US Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health (OMH), and public health philanthropies or foundations.

Scope of funding

The Boston BRI…DGE Promising Partnerships offers seed funding in support of community-academic collaborations seeking to develop research proposals for larger grant submissions in the future. The resulting research proposals must focus on addressing health disparities, achieving health equity, or helping patients, families, and communities make better-informed decisions about their health and healthcare.

The resulting research proposals should utilize research approaches or methods that ensure equitable partnerships between community members and academic researchers. Examples of these approaches are, but not limited to, comparative effectiveness research (CER), patient-centered outcomes research (PCOR), community-based participatory research (CBPR), and community-engaged research (CEnR).

Award amount

The awardee will receive up to $5,000 of funding that must be expended within the award period (December 1, 2020 to May 31, 2021). This is a one-time award. Awardees of this cycle of Promising Partnerships are not eligible to apply for the next cycle.

The pilot grant may only be used for building relationships and activities related to developing research plans and/or preliminary data collection or analysis. The pilot grant should neither be used for the salary of researchers nor project staff. 

Key dates

Release of RFP

Application deadline

Award announcement

Award begins

Final report deadline*

*For awardees

August 20

September 18, 3:00 PM EST

November 22-25

December 1

May 31, 2021

Who can apply?

The following are eligible to apply:

  • Community-based organizations

  • Community health centers

  • Patient advocacy and support groups

  • Patient-Powered Research Network (PPRN) groups

  • Patient and Family Advisory Councils (PFACs)


Researchers working with community partners or looking to strengthen partnerships with the communities are also encouraged to apply. In order to be eligible, the applying entity must be based in Massachusetts and possess a 501(c)3 status. An organization without a 501(c)3 status must be affiliated with a 501(c)3 organization as a fiscal conduit. In this case, the fiscal conduit becomes the applying entity. Individuals and for-profit businesses are not eligible.


Application instructions

The application is due Friday, September 18, 2020 by 3:00 PM EST. Please note the following application instructions:

  • A complete application should include items 1-7 listed in the Application Components box below.

  • Please use the Application Form and templates for the Abstract, Narrative, Biosketch, and Budget provided.

  • The Abstract and Narrative must be written in 11-point Calibri font with 1” margins and 1.5 lines spacing.

    • The Abstract should not exceed 500 words.

    • The Narrative should not exceed 4 pages and should address the items listed under the Narrative subheading in the Application Components box.

  • All documents should be submitted as a single PDF or Microsoft Word documentName your document with “Promising Partnerships_[name of the applying entity]”, for example: “Promising Partnerships_Organization ABCD”.

  • Email the document as an attachment to by Friday, September 18, 2020, 3:00 PM EST. The name of your document must also be your email subject line, i.e. “Promising Partnerships_[name of the applying entity]”.

1. Application Form

Click here to download the Application Form. 

2. Abstract

In no more than 500 words, please provide a concise description of (1) the significance of the issue that your partnership wants to address, (2) potential impact of the resulting research, (3) outcomes your partnership hopes to accomplish within this seed funding period, (4) who will be engaged in the partnership and the role they will play, and (5) plans for seeking further funding. The abstract should be suitable for a general audience. Please use this template.

3. Narrative

The narrative should not exceed 4 pages and should be written in 11-point Calibri font with 1” margins and 1.5 lines spacing. It should address the following items:

  • Issue of interest: 

    • Describe the significance of the issue

    • Describe the burden to the community

  • Nature of partnership: 

    • Identify the project lead(s), partners, and their roles

    • Identify the applying entity and its relationship to the project lead or co-leads. 

    • Identify experience with partnerships and strengths brought to partnerships

    • Identify past funding experience (if any)

  • Engagement plan: 

    • Identify staff or community members who will be engaged in the partnership

    • Identify strategies to ensure/strengthen equitable partnerships

  • Project methods:

    • Describe project activities within the pilot grant period

    • Describe how the research plan will be developed

    • Describe plans for preliminary data collection or analysis

COVID-19 Consideration


The proposed project should be mindful of COVID-19 and explain how project activities will be carried out within this context. Information should also be included on how the project team will overcome any challenges that may arise. Applicants must ensure, and specify, preventative measures taken to comply with public health guidelines.

  • Outcomes: 

    • Identify what the partnership hopes to accomplish within and after the seed grant period

    • Identify potential grant applications upon the completion of the seed grant


Click here to download the Narrative template.

4. References

Please list all sources or references cited or used in the process of developing the Project Narrative.

5. Biosketch

Please provide the information requested in the Biosketch templates for the project lead and all key individuals listed in the Application Form. Community partners serving as key individuals may choose to complete the Community Partner Biosketch form in lieu of the Academic Biosketch form. The Biosketch should not exceed 4 pages per person. 

6. Budget

The pilot grant may only be used for building relationships and activities related to developing research plans and/or preliminary data collection or analysis. These activities must be done within the 6-month of the funding period (December 1, 2020 to May 31, 2021. Institutional overhead is allowed for up to 10% of the grant money. The pilot grant should neither be used for the salary of researchers nor project staff from the community. Please use the Budget template provided below.

7. Letters of support

Please include signed letters of support (LOS) from partners/collaborators involved in your partnership. Electronic signatures are acceptable. The LOS should indicate the collaborator’s commitment to the project, specific roles in the project, and support for the partnership. Enclose the letters of support with the other above mentioned components as the last attachments.

Application Components

All documents should be submitted as

a single PDF or Microsoft Word document


by Friday, September 18, 2020, 3:00 PM EST.

Have questions? 



Post-award requirement

  • Mandatory participation in the BRI…DGE Learning Community training series held between January – March 2020 (dates to be determined).

  • A final report due by May 31, 2021 that includes:

    • Lessons learned:  What works, what matters, what’s different  

    • A research plan

    • A potential grant submission plan

    • Goals after the Promising Partnerships funding

Frequently asked questions

What is PCORI?

The Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI)® is a United States-based non-profit institution that funds research and project that offers patients and caregivers the information they need to make important healthcare decisions. PCORI is funded through the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Trust Fund (PCOR Trust Fund), which was established by Congress through the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010. In December 2019, the Congress reauthorized PCORI’s funding for the next 10 years and the bipartisan legislation has been signed into law. To learn more, visit PCORI's website.

What is an equitable partnership?

An equitable partnership is one that values the following principles: (1) reciprocal, where roles and authority of all partners are defined collaboratively and clearly, (2) co-learning, where the experience and expertise of all partners are valued, (3) respect for partners’ commitment, time, and diversity, and (4) transparency, honesty, and trusts. These are PCORI Engagement Principles that key to promote equitable relationship and genuine engagement in a research partnership. To learn more, please visit or download PCORI Engagement Rubric here.

How many people or organizations should be in the partnerships?

There is no limit on the size of the partnership.

What are allowed activities?

The Promising Partnerships seed funding will support activities related to building relationships, developing research plans, and/or preliminary data collection/analysis. Some examples of these activities are convening virtual meetings with community partners, focus group discussions with community constituents, key informant interviews, travel support for community partners. The seed funding cannot be used for the salary of researchers or project staff from the community.

Who should be the project lead?

As the idea of the Promising Partnerships is to foster community-academic collaborations, anybody from or affiliated with an applying entity can become a project lead. Hence, the project lead can be a staff member of a community organization, a community health center staff member or clinician, a member of a patient advocacy or support group, a member of a Patient-Powered Research Network group, or a PFAC member of a hospital or community health center. A researcher or faculty member can also become a project lead as long as they work with a community partner or have identified a community partner that is willing to engage in the proposed project. A proposal can also has multiple co-leads, e.g. a researcher with a community partner.

Do I need to identify a novel problem, or can I address a problem our partnership has already convened on?

The proposal can either address a new problem or a problem that a partnership has been working on. If a partnership chooses to work on an ongoing issue, the proposal should describe what part of the issue would be addressed differently and how the new approach would significantly improve community outcomes.

Can I use the grant to disseminate work previously completed by my partnership?

No. The Promising Partnerships’ goal is to support community-academic partnerships conducting preliminary activities necessary for future research grant applications. It will not fund dissemination efforts.

What will the review process look like?

Each incoming proposal will be first screened for its completeness, i.e. if it has all the required Application Components, and the applicant’s eligibility, i.e. if the applying entity falls under the categories listed on the Who Can Apply? section above.

Proposals that pass the screening will then be reviewed by a review panel comprised of members of CCHERS’ Research Governance Committee, members of the Boston BRI…DGE Project Advisory Board (PAB), and external members. External members are individuals who do not have any employment affiliation with CCHERS and do not sit on CCHERS’ Board of Directors and any Committees under CCHERS’ Board of Directors.

Each proposal will be vetted based on a Review Metric by individual reviewers or a subgroup of reviewers. The results will be discussed in a fully convened review panel and CCHERS' Board of Directors meetings.

How will I know if I get funded?

The Boston BRI…DGE team will send a notification to both awarded and non-awarded applicants. The project lead will receive the notification via email from our team in late November 2020.

I am a PFAC member. How can I participate in this opportunity?

An individual is not an eligible entity. The applicant must be an organization or institution listed under the Who Can Apply? section above, based in Massachusetts, and has a 501(c)3 tax exempt status. Since a PFAC generally does not have an independent 501(c)3 status, it may not be an eligible entity per se. However, a PFAC and its member can still participate in this funding opportunity by partnering with a 501(c)3 institution, such as its affiliated hospital, a community health center, or a community-based organization. The 501(c)3 institution should become the applying entity, the PFAC should be listed as a partner, and you can become either a project lead, co-lead, or team member.