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Grand Challenges Grants Resources for Applicants

Grand Challenge Grants

The Grand Challenges Accelerator is a series of Info Sessions, Workshops, and Customized Support for the UMD Grand Challenges Grants Program to help teams: 1) iteratively develop and improve their proposals at each stage of the selection process, and 2) accelerate towards impactful solutions addressing a grand challenge. The Grand Challenges Accelerator is a joint innovation initiative out of the Division of Research and Academic Affairs.

The following resources for the Grand Challenges Grants Program will be offered:

Information Sessions:

  • Grand Challenges Kickoff Information Session on April 26:
    • See Video Recording of Information Session on April 26  (Note: Requires UMD sign-in and authentication to view)
    • View Presentation Slides from Information Session on April 26: Powerpoint Format | PDF Format
      • This session provides an overview of the goals of the Grand Challenges Grants Program and explains processes, timelines, funding details, and other information. This session also includes a Q&A portion at the end of the session.

Weekly Office Hours:

Budget Template for Institutional Proposals:

Find the Institutional Grants and Team Project Grants Budget Template Here
(The Team Project Grants Budget Template can be found on the tab at the bottom)
*Note: This budget template was updated on June 5, 2022. If you began entering numbers into the budget template prior to June 5, 2022, please download it again — the previous version contained an error. If you have already populated it, you can correct the error yourself by adding the value in line 11 to the sum in line 25.

Resources for Incorporating Educational Components in Proposals:

Contact the Teaching and Learning Transformation Center (TLTC)

Accelerator Workshops:

  • Mini-workshops to help with all stages of proposal development
  • Length: 60-90 minutes, virtual format
  • Workshop topics:
    • Kickoff Accelerator Workshop: This optional 60-minute workshop will provide assistance with grand challenge problem scoping, stakeholder mapping, creative approaches and solutions, and other tools to help teams develop and improve Letters of Intent and Proposals. 
    • Accelerator Workshops for Presentations to Leadership: These 60-90 minute workshops will be offered in September 2022 to help Institutional Grant finalists refine their ideas and prepare to present their proposal to campus leadership. The workshops are designed specifically for the Institutional Grants teams whose LOIs were selected to move forward to the next phase of consideration. The workshops will take a deeper dive into topics from the Kickoff Workshop, including learning from stakeholders, ideation tools, testing new ideas, team formation, new operating models, and sustaining impact. 

Customized Support - Optional

  • Length: 30-60 minutes
  • On-demand meetings with a member of the Grand Challenges Accelerator team.  These are optional follow-up sessions for any team that would like to discuss anything from the Kickoff Workshop or Accelerator Workshops or get help from the GC Accelerator team to continue the work they started in the Kickoff Workshop or Accelerator Workshops.

Accelerating Your Project from Proposal to Impact

The Grand Challenges Accelerator will help teams every step of the way from proposal to impact by working with teams to continually answer key questions like:

  1. What specific aspect of a grand challenge are you addressing, and why is this specific aspect such a significant problem?
  2. Who are the stakeholders that will benefit from your grand challenge solution? How does the grand challenge problem affect the daily lives of those stakeholders, and how will your solution impact and benefit those stakeholders? 
  3. Describe how this grand challenge is being addressed today and what the limitations are of those current practices? 
  4. What is novel in your approach? What is the technology / policy / methodology / process / cultural innovation, and why will it be significantly better than current practices? 
  5. How will you measure success at UMD, the surrounding communities, and more broadly? How will you measure success throughout the course of the project, especially in the first 12 months? What are the key milestones and corresponding qualitative or quantitative metrics? 
  6. How much will your project cost? What other resources, partners, and strategies will you need to execute and scale your grand challenges solution so that it ultimately improves the lives of millions of people. 
  7. What are the assumptions, hypotheses, and risks with respect to the grand challenge problem and your project? What will you do to explore these questions?


Learning by Doing in the Grand Challenges Accelerator

In the Grand Challenges Accelerator, teams will actively engage in design thinking and lean startup.

  • Design Thinking builds creative confidence and provides experience with tools, processes, and methods that help navigate ambiguity and complexity in tough problems, ultimately leading to creative solutions.
  • Lean Startup informs “business models” for scaling creative solutions and maximizing the number of people who benefit, used at small companies, large companies, non-profits, and government.

Both involve experiential, discovery-based “learning by doing” to gain insights and learn the nuances of real-world problems and needs. Both require quickly and iteratively generating and testing numerous unconventional concepts, learning from ones that work and, more importantly, from ones that fail, and ultimately reaching innovative solutions and ways to scale those solutions. Ideally this is all done alongside real stakeholders out in the world,, and the Grand Challenges Accelerator will try to provide these kinds of opportunities or something similar where possible. 


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