Pilot Grants

The Current Cycle for Pilot Grant Funding has closed. Check back in December 2022 for info on applying for the next Cycle! 

The University of Minnesota Program in Health Disparities Research announces Pilot Grants in Health Disparities Research annually. These grants are designed to encourage community-initiated research and foster sustainable long-term collaboration between community-based organizations and academic researchers on research projects focused on reducing and eliminating health disparities. The Pilot Grant program is made possible with support from the Masonic Cancer Center, University of Minnesota; and the Office for Business & Community Economic Development Community Health Initiative (CHI), University of Minnesota.

For the 2023 funding cycle, up to 3 grants will be awarded, with a maximum award amount of $25,000 per grant. Projects are supported for a one-year period. This year's application cycle is now closed. Please check back in December 2022 for updates.


Pilot Grant Recipients Hold a Community Presentation and Conversation to Disseminate Research Results

Recipients of a 2020 Pilot Grant in Health Disparities Research, Rodolfo Gutierrez, PhD and Gabriela Bustamante, PhD, presented their Un Poco de Luz: Learning from Cervical Cancer Screening among Uninsured Hispanics in Minnesota research findings to the community on September 23, 2022. Gutierrez and Bustamante identified factors that have contributed to the high level of usage of free cervical cancer screening (CCS) services provided by the Minnesota Department of Health’s (MDH) Sage program among low-income uninsured and underinsured Hispanic women in Minnesota using focus groups and in-depth interviews. In addition to sharing research findings, they debuted a video co-created by and starring participants from the study and produced by MLatino Media promoting cervical cancer screening and the use of the Sage program. To stay informed about what HACER is doing, please visit their website. For information on applying to the next cycle of Pilot Grants, check back here in December. 



Tallaya Byers, Envision Leader, Envision Communities, Inc.
Armel Green, Envision Leader, Envision Communities, Inc.
Sherry Shannon, Envision Leader, Envision Communities, Inc.
Freddy Toran, Envision Leader, Envision Communities, Inc.
Stuart Grande, PhD, MPA, Senior Lecturer, Health Policy and Management, School of Public Health


Shaunequa James, MSW, BSW, LGSW, Gilda's Club Program Director
Rachel I. Vogel, PhD, Division of Gynecologic Oncology, University of Minnesota Medical School



Angela D-B Reed, CDA, BC, CHW, Chief Operating Officer, Turning Point, Inc.
Tanner Nissly, DO, Assistant Professor, Medical Director, Department of Family Medicine and Community Health, University of Minnesota Medical School
Mary Lonergan-Cullum, PhD, Research Project Manager, Department of Family Medicine and Community Health, University of Minnesota Medical School

Funding Priorities

Projects must be conducted within a partnership between community-based organizations and academic researchers. Priority will be given to projects that:

1. The Masonic Cancer Center (MCC) Community Research Grant supports (up to 2) proposals for cancer-related health disparities in Minnesota.

    • Because our goal is to reduce the burden of cancer in Minnesota, proposals must identify and address a disparity in cancer incidence, treatment, or outcomes among groups of Minnesotans. Groups can be defined by race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, or geography (e.g. rural). All proposals addressing cancer risk factors need to be directly tied to cancer.
    • Special consideration will be given to projects that address one of the Cancer Center’s catchment priorities, including disparities in incidence and mortality of colon, liver, and prostate cancers, geographic and racial/ethnic disparities in colon cancer screening, and disparities in infection-related cancers.
        • Examples of appropriate topics include, but are not limited to: lifestyle factors such as tobacco use, diet, and physical activity; environmental exposures to different types of chemicals and radiation; certain types of infections known to cause cancer (e.g., Hepatitis B and liver cancer, HPV and cervical cancer).
        • Topics related to socioeconomic barriers to cancer care, screening, education, or clinical trials will be considered.

2. The Community Health Initiative (CHI) Research Grant supports the work that reduces or eliminates Health Disparities in North Minneapolis.  Proposed research projects must address a public health issue that has been identified by a community or community-based nonprofit organization.

3. You may submit a dissemination research project related to one or both of the topics listed above.  Dissemination research projects must have a rigorous evaluation component. Grant awardees previously funded by PHDR are encouraged to apply.

    • Dissemination research is a broader sharing of new knowledge generated from a research project.
        • “Broader sharing” refers to the dissemination of research findings to a target audience(s). For example, a plan that focuses on individuals, groups, organizations, and/or decision-makers to learn about research findings. New and creative ways of sharing information are highly encouraged.
        • “New knowledge” refers to all information or resources generated from research. For example, new products or materials from an intervention, findings from a survey, and focus group and interview results.
        • “A Research Project” includes all types of study designs.
        • “Generated from a research project” refers to research findings from a prior or existing community-academic partnership.



  • All community-based, 501(c)(3) organizations with an interest in health disparities are eligible to apply.
  • Community-based organizations with or without an established working relationship with an academic researcher are welcome to submit a letter of intent.
    • Letters of Intent from organizations without an established working relationship with an academic researcher will be matched with a researcher with similar interests at the University of Minnesota by Program staff. Continued consideration will be based on suitable matches; if no appropriate match is made, the applicant will be duly informed.
    • After matches are made, each project will consist of a minimum of two co-principal investigators—at least one member from a community-based organization and one academic researcher. If the matched research teams agree to work together, they will be invited to submit a full research proposal.
    • Prior awardees are eligible to apply with new or expansions of previous projects.

Informational Session - TBD January 2023

The purpose of the informational session is to provide background and information to the interested community and academic partners on the Health Disparities Pilot Grants..

The 2022-23 Cycle's Info Session is still TBD for January 2023; check back here for updates!

Slides from last year's Session

If you have additional questions, please send them to hdpilotgrants@umn.edu.

Required Letter of Intent

A letter of intent is required. You may submit the LOI online at https://z.umn.edu/2022pilotgrantsLOI or email a completed LOI form to hdpilotgrants@umn.edu by 4:00 p.m. on Friday, February 4, 2022.

The LOI form can be found at https://z.umn.edu/2022pilotgrantsLOIForm 

Pre-application Technical Workshop

The pre-application technical workshop will provide community and academic partners who have been invited to submit a full application with technical assistance to guide them through the grant application process.

The Pre-application Technical Workshop is now available. You may access the slides here. You can hear the audio by opening the slides in PowerPoint and 1) clicking on the audio button in the lower right corner of each slide, or 2) use the presentation mode and the audio will automatically turn on.  Note: Slide 6 does not have any audio.

A new virtual workshop for the 2022 cycle is TBD for the week of February 28 2022. 

Application Guidelines

Step 1. Submit a Letter of Intent.

A letter of intent is required. You may submit the LOI online at https://z.umn.edu/2022pilotgrantsLOI or email a completed LOI form to hdpilotgrants@umn.edu by 4:00 p.m. on Friday, February 4, 2022. The LOI form can be found at https://z.umn.edu/2022pilotgrantsLOIForm.

 Step 2. Invitation to Submit a Full Application.

Matching will begin after LOIs have been submitted for community-based organizations without academic partners. Invitations to submit a full application will be sent out by February 21st, 2022. Application details will be provided with the invitation. Deadline for full applications is Friday, April 15, 2022 by 12:00 p.m. No late applications will be accepted.

Review and Scoring Criteria

All applications will be reviewed by a committee consisting of individuals from the local community and the University of Minnesota faculty and staff. Applicants will be notified of the review outcome by May 25, 2022. Awards will be made for one-year. Awardees will be required to attend a Kickoff Orientation, Partnership Workshop and to present a poster about the project at the annual poster session and awards banquet. Additionally, all awardees will need to commit to PHDR’s partnership support and problem-solving process.

Full Applications will be evaluated based on the following six criteria:

  1. Specific aims – Each proposal should have clearly stated Specific Aims with measurable objectives. This section should include a clear statement of the primary research question(s) being addressed by the proposed study.
  2. Background and significance – This section should address the following questions:
    • What is the significance of the health disparity topic or health issue being addressed?
    • What is currently known about the health disparity topic?
    • What gaps in knowledge will the proposed study address?
    • How will the proposed study reduce health disparities and improve the health of the target population? This section also should describe the applicants’ relevant experience with the proposed topic.
  3. Community – In this section, please address the following:
    • Who is/are the group(s) that will benefit from this research project?
    • How are they involved in the proposed research?
    • What community-academic decision- making process is in place for the study?
    • How are communities represented in decision-making at each level of the project?
  4. Methodology – The proposal should include a clear description of the study design and assessment, evaluation tools, or other methods appropriate to the Specific Aims and research questions. Dissemination research projects must have rigorous evaluation methods that are clearly described. For example, evaluations might include: Who did the resources/information reach? Did the audience find the resources/information useful? How did the audience use the resources/information? How do they intend to use the resources/information in the future?
  5. Dissemination – The proposal should describe how and to whom the findings will be disseminated. Dissemination costs also should be included in the budget, with appropriate justifications.
  6. Long-Term Plan – The proposal should describe:
    • Implications of this project for advancing this type of research
    • Plans for future research and funding after the project is completed

Frequently Asked Questions

Do you have questions about the pilot grant program? Check out the Frequently Asked Questions.

Email Maiyia at hdpilotgrants@umn.edu if you have additional questions.

2022-23 Key Dates

TBD December: Request for Applications for 2022 Health Disparities Pilot Grants released
TBD January: Informational Webinar uploaded on PHDR website
TBD February: Deadline for the required Letter of Intent from community-based organizations
TBD February: Community-academic teams invited to submit full application
Week of February 28 (TBD): Pre-application Technical Workshop webinar uploaded on PHDR website
TBD April: Full research proposals due from research teams
June 1: 2021 Grant awardees announced
TBD July: Kickoff Orientation and Partnership Workshop
Aug 1 – Jul 31: Award Period

*Dates may change without prior notice.

  • 2021-2022
  • 2020-2021
  • 2019-2020
  • 2018-2019
  • 2017-2018
  • 2021-2022

    HmongHPV eHealth website: A Pilot to Evaluate Dissemination Strategies
    Kathleen Culhane-Pera, MD, MA, Community Clinician Researcher, SoLaHmo Partnership for Health and Wellness
    April Wilhelm, MD, MPH, Assistant Professor, Department of Family Medicine and Community Health, University of Minnesota Medical School
    Empowering Parents for Wellness in Shelter (EMPOWER): Adapting and scaling a shelter-based health empowerment program for parenting youth experiencing homelessness
    Christina Heineken Woodlee, MPA, Senior Director of Strategy and Partnership, Bridge for Youth
    Janna Gewirtz O'Brien, MD, MPH, FAAP, Assistant Professor, Department of Pediatrics
    Digital Breast Cancer Champions: Increasing access to care for underserved communities 
    Benita Robinson, Sisters Standing up to Breast Cancer
    David Haynes, PhD, Assistant Professor, Institute for Health Informatics
  • 2020-2021

    Participatory Theater to share learnings about living with Type 2 Diabetes while homeless
    Maren Ward, Artistic Direction, zAmya Theater
    Kate Vickery, MD, MSc, Assistant Professor, Department of Medicine, University of Minnesota
    Implementation of Culturally Tailored Lung Cancer Screening In The Native American Community Clinic
    Antony Stately, PhD, Chief Executive Officer, Native American Community Clinic
    Shannon (Fahey) Klingelhutz, MS, Chief Information Officer, Native American Community Clinic
    Abbie Begnaud, MD, Assistant Professor of Medicine, School of Medicine, Department of Medicine 
    Utilizing traditional tobacco to reframe what tobacco is and is not to promote commercial smoking cessation in American Indians
    Dylan Jennings (Bizhikiins), Tribal Council member, Bad River Band of the Lake Superior Tribe of Chippewa Indians
    Dana Mowls Carroll, PhD, MPH, Assistant Professor Division of Environmental Health Sciences, School of Public Health and University of Minnesota and Masonic Cancer Center, University of Minnesota
    Dorothy Hatsukami, PhD, Professor, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, University of Minnesota and Associate Director of Cancer Prevention and Control, Masonic Cancer Center, University of Minnesota
    Un poco de luz: Learning from cervical cancer screening among uninsured Hispanics in Minnesota
    Rodolfo Gutierrez, PhD, Executive Director, Hispanic Advocacy and Community Empowerment through Research (HACER)
    Gabriela Bustamante Callejas, PhD, Postdoctoral Fellow, Program in Health Disparities Research, University of Minnesota Medical School
  • 2019-2020

    Activating Nature Play to Reduce Cancer Disparities in Red Wing
    Erin Aadalen, Live Healthy Red Wing
    Cathy Jordan, PhD, Institute on the Environment, Department of Pediatrics

    The African Immigrant Memory Loss Assessment Project
    Wynfred Russell, African Career, Education & Resources, Inc. (ACER)
    Joseph E. Gaugler, PhD, Division of Health Policy and Management, School of Public Health

  • 2018-2019

    Choosing Life in the Black Community, Achieving the Dream: A Learned Self-Management Program for Trauma
    Alfred Babington-Johnson, Stairstep Foundation
    Jonathan Miller, PhD, Family Medicine and Community Health

    Stress Exposure, Acculturation, and Cancer Screening in East African Men and Women
    Jemal Tufe, Oromo Community of Minnesota
    Motohiro Nakajima, PhD, Family Medicine & Behavioral Health
    Mustafa al’Absi, PhD, Family Medicine & Behavioral Health

    Reading for Health: Reducing Cancer Screening Disparities Through Addressing Health Literacy in the Somali Community
    Imam Sharif Mohamed, Islamic Civil Society of America
    Rebekah Pratt, PhD, Family Medicine & Community Health

  • 2017-2018

    Healing Project
    Rev. Alika Galloway, Liberty Community Church (formerly Kwanzaa Community Presbyterian Church)
    Ross VeLure Roholt, PhD, MSW, School of Social Work, UMN College of Education & Human Development
    Lauren Martin, Robert J. Jones Urban Research and Outreach-Engagement Center (UROC)

    Increasing HPV vaccination in American Indian health systems through a tailored toolkit
    Kristine Rhodes, MPH, American Indian Cancer Foundation
    Annie-Laurie McRee, DrPH, General Pediatrics & Adolescent Health, Department of Pediatrics, UMN Medical School