Faculty Research Grants

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I. Summary and F.A.Q.

The Tommy G. Thompson Center on Public Leadership takes as its mission the promotion of effective leadership, bipartisan approaches to public policy, and well-researched policy.  The Thompson Center funds faculty research across the UW System that will advance public leadership and help leaders to address pressing policy challenges. “Tommy G. Thompson Research Grants” are intended to help University of Wisconsin System faculty, and researchers within the System, research issues in need of attention here in Wisconsin.

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Frequently Asked Questions

II. Research Priorities

The focus of Faculty Grants is determined each year based on a consultative process undertaken by the Public Leadership Board in conjunction with the Faculty Advisory Committee.  While the Thompson Center is interested in all public leadership projects, this year we are particularly interested in projects that address improving independence for persons with disabilities, ways to increase Wisconsin’s role in the biomedical field, and future energy reforms in the state.

a.     Improving Independence for People with Disabilities in Wisconsin

The Center seeks to analyze how policymakers can assist Wisconsin’s disabled population to become increasingly independent and self-sufficient. The Center will fund research proposals and speakers devoted to this topic. It seeks faculty research that identifies effective ways to assist those with physical or cognitive disabilities to enter the work force, to pursue education, and otherwise to improve their lives through greater independence and self-sufficiency.


b.     Increasing Wisconsin’s Influence in Biomedical Advancements

How can Wisconsin develop new frontiers in biomedical research? What opportunities and obstacles exist for Wisconsin to continue as a powerhouse in biomedical technology? The Thompson Center aims to determine how Wisconsin’s policymakers can continue to work with the University of Wisconsin and Wisconsin’s private sector to make Wisconsin the preeminent location for biomedical research and investment. The Center will fund research proposals and speakers devoted to this topic.

c.     Reforming Wisconsin’s Energy Future

Many Wisconsinites demand an energy policy that is increasingly self-sufficient and cleaner. Battery powered cars can supplement many gas-powered vehicles. Solar and wind power provide reasonable alternatives for businesses and residential customers. Methane produced from cows fuels thousands of Wisconsin homes already. Costs are down dramatically, with equally dramatic returns on investment. For many businesses, renewable sources make more sense. The Thompson Center seeks faculty research and speakers to examine how our leaders can cultivate these energy sources. What kinds of technologies are particularly useful for Wisconsin? What homegrown advancements will lead the way toward our energy revolution?

III. Application Requirements and Deadlines

A.     Eligible Applicants

All faculty members (tenured or tenure-track) and researchers eligible to serve as principal investigators who are affiliated with the University of Wisconsin System’s universities may apply. Applications from research teams are allowed.  Faculty and researchers from any discipline are welcome to propose projects, as long as they address or have clear implications for public leadership and address the topics identified above.

    B.     Due Date and Submission Requirements

Proposals must be submitted:

1)     no later than 5:00 pm (Central Standard Time) on Sunday, March 31, 2019;

2)    electronically to Michael Knaak, Thompson Center Administrative Assistant, at thompsoncenter@wisc.edu; and

3)     in paper copy via 9 packets which are stapled, and include the summary sheet attached to the maximum 4-page document.  The envelope containing the cover letter and 9 hard copy packets must be postmarked by March 31 and sent to:

Michael Knaak
Tommy G. Thompson Center on Public Leadership
University of Wisconsin – Madison
219 North Hall
1050 Bascom Mall
Madison, WI 53706

Electronic copies and paper copies must be identical.

      C.     Award Amounts and Notification

The Thompson Center has allocated a sizable amount of funds for grants. Individual grant awards may range from $5,000-$500,000.  The Center will notify grant recipients in writing after the committee finalizes its award decisions.

    D.     Award Period

Award recipients must present a plan for, and spend all funds by the end of the fiscal year in which they receive the grant.

The UW System runs on a July 1 – June 30 fiscal year. As such, funds must be expended well in advance of the June 30 deadline to be accounted for within the fiscal year in which the award was made. Awardees may request a no-cost time extension if necessary (see III(f)(vi) below.)

E.     Required Application Materials

Applications must be no longer than four pages and must be single-spaced.  Applicants should use a minimum of 12-point font, with a minimum of one-inch margins, and include page numbers (center, bottom of page). They must include the following:

(1)   A one paragraph summary that describes the project and its importance. The one paragraph summary should serve as the cover page of the application narrative, with only the title and project summary included on this document;

(2)   The applicant name and institution must be included on a cover letter to accompany materials, but may not be included on the application materials including the summary sheet.  Only the title of the project may be listed on the application materials (this aids our blind review process);

(3)   A discussion of the policy or leadership problem and the project the applicant seeks to undertake to resolve it;

(4)   A proposed budget which includes a detailed narrative describing the need for each category of funds and how the funds will be used to meet the project goals; and

(5)   A data management plan that describes:

a.     The types of data, samples, physical collections, software, and other materials to be produced in the course of the project;

b.     Policies for access and sharing any data obtained including provisions for appropriate protection of privacy, confidentiality, security, intellectual property, or other rights or requirements;

c.     Policies and provisions for re-use, re-distribution, and the production of derivatives; and

d.     Plans for archiving data, samples, and other research products, and for preservation of access to them.

Although not required, the Center favors applications that identify key public and private sector actors relevant to the research topic and a plan, if funded, for reaching out to these individuals to collaborate on the project design and/or dissemination of research results. For example, a project on prisoner re-entry might identify relevant individuals at the Department of Corrections, the Legislature, and elsewhere, who would be interested in the study and potential collaboration now or in the future.

The Center reserves the right to seek additional information, to hold in-person or telephone interviews with applicants, and to modify proposed budgets.

    F.      Awardee Responsibilities

Awardees must agree to work with Thompson Center staff and their home campuses to perform the following tasks:
(i)     Promote the findings and implications of the funded work broadly across the State of Wisconsin consistent with the Wisconsin Idea and in a manner that is easily accessible to the public;

(ii)    Where possible, strive to engage with policymakers in the relevant branches of government regarding the project;

(iii)    Provide summaries of their research findings for posting on the Center’s website (https://thompsoncenter.wisc.edu/);

(iv)     Provide a public presentation of their results, either at their home campus or at an alternative location, which must be in close proximity to their home campus; and

(v)     Prepare a short report and/or presentation to the Center which discusses the challenges and successes of the project.

(vi)     Expend all awarded funds within the fiscal year in which they are awarded. If necessary, the awardee may request a no-cost time extension. The granting of no-cost time extensions are not guaranteed and are rare due to fiscal year constraints under which the Center operates. Applicants who absolutely need to apply for a no-cost time extension to the award must do so in writing to the Director of the Thompson Center by May 1 of the awarding year.

    G.     Grant Restrictions

Recipients may not use funds to buy out courses.  Students working on Thompson Center funded projects must be eligible to perform work consistent with UW System policies.

 IV. Merit Review and Grant Approval

Thompson Center grants go through a two-step process involving 1) initial review by the Faculty Advisory Committee based on established principles and criteria, and 2) subsequent review by the Public Leadership Board.

A.    Merit Review Principles and Criteria Used by the Faculty Advisory Committee

To be considered for funding, projects must be of high quality and have the potential to advance, if not transform, the frontiers of policy and public leadership in Wisconsin. The Faculty Advisory Committee will recommend awarding a grant only if a project meets the following criteria:

(i)     The grant application must satisfy all the deadlines and  requirements (Laid out in this document);

(ii)     The project will collect and/or analyze original data, pursue an original inquiry, or secondary research;

(iii)     The proposed topic must be researchable;

(iv)     The project must objectively study public leadership in American political and legal institutions, policymaking, and policy implementation;

(v)     The project must address an issue of direct and urgent relevance for the state of Wisconsin, aiming for long-term solutions;

(vi)     The application must contain a plan for carrying out the proposed project activities, and must do so in a way that is well-reasoned, well-organized, and based on a sound rationale; and

(vii)    The application must clearly describe the deliverables and output of the project.  For example, will the project generate policy papers, policy proposals, academic studies, or other products?

B.   Subsequent Review by the Public Leadership Board

The Public Leadership Board respects and relies upon the Faculty Advisory Committee’s academic expertise and will work with the Committee in a collaborative manner that recognizes everyone’s comparative advantages.  Accordingly, the Public Leadership Board may overrule the Committee’s recommendation if a majority of Board members determine that a recommended grant:

(i)     Is inconsistent with the mission of the Center; or

(ii)    Is not relevant to the call for grant proposals.

V. Questions

Check the Thompson Center website https://thompsoncenter.wisc.edu/ for a list of Frequently Asked Questions.

Direct all other questions to:

Michael Knaak

Email: thompsoncenter@wisc.edu
Office: 608-265-4087
Tommy G. Thompson Center on Public Leadership
University of Wisconsin – Madison
219 North Hall
1050 Bascom Mall
Madison, WI 53706

VI. Submitting an Application

Have you put together everything you need to submit your application?

If so then please send your paper copy documents to the Tommy Thompson Center on Public Leadership at the University of Wisconsin – Madison:
North Hall
1050 Bascom Mall
Madison, WI 53706

Additionally, please send an electronic copy via email to thompsoncenter@wisc.edu with the subject line Grant Competition Submission.  While no automated response will be generated, an acknowledgment of application submission will be forthcoming within 24 hours or by the end of the next business day.

If you do not receive an acknowledgment via email, please resubmit your electronic applications materials and feel free to call us at 608-265-4087, between 8:00am and 4:30pm.