Pilot Grants


Required Letter of Intent Due February 7, 2020

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 2020 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.


Utilizing traditional tobacco to reframe what tobacco is and is not to promote commercial smoking cessation in American Indians
Community Partner(s): Dylan Jennings (Bizhikiins), Tribal Council member, Bad River Band of the Lake Superior Tribe of Chippewa Indians
Academic Partner(s): Dana Mowls Carroll & Dorothy Hatsukami

Un poco de luz: Learning from cervical cancer screening among uninsured Hispanics in Minnesota
Community Partner(s): Rodolfo Gutierrez, Hispanic Advocacy and Community Empowerment through Research (HACER)
Academic Partner(s): Gabriela Bustamante Callejas

Participatory Theater to share learnings about living with Type 2 Diabetes while homeless
Community Partner(s): Maren Ward, zAmya Theater
Academic Partner(s): Kate Diaz Vickery

Implementation of Culturally Tailored Lung Cancer Screening In The Native American Community Clinic
Community Partner(s): Antony Stately & Shannon (Fahey) Klingelhutz, Native American Community Clinic
Academic Partner(s): Abbie Begnaud


Funding Priorities

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

  • have a strong community engagement component, evidenced by involving people from the race/ethnicity and/or socio-cultural communities being served in all aspects of the proposed research project, as well as increasing skills, connections, and growth opportunities for all partners;

  • have a high likelihood of leading to future funding by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) or other federal, state, or private funding agencies, as well as projects that demonstrate a clear contribution by both community and academic partner;
  • are grounded in the principles of community-based participatory research as described in the University of Minnesota’s Performance of Community-based Research: Guidance Statement (PDF) and take into account the elements and principles noted in the PHDR Gold Standard Checklist.

Based on the priorities indicated by our funding stakeholders, proposals should focus on one or all of the following areas:

  • Cancer-related health disparities in Minnesota. Cancer is a complex disease with many possible causes. All proposals addressing cancer risk factors need to be directly tied to cancer.
    • 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; and, 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. For example geographic barriers to care for residents of greater Minnesota. 
  • 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. 

You may submit an application for broader sharing of new knowledge generated from a research project (e.g., dissemination research) 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.

  • “Broader sharing” refers to disseminating research findings to a targeted audience(s). For example, a plan that focuses on individuals, groups, organizations, and/or decision makers to receive findings from a research study. New and creative ways of sharing information are highly encouraged.
  • “New knowledge” refers to all types of research-generated information or resources. 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 - January 21, 2020

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

Tuesday, January 21st, 2020
12:30pm – 1:30pm
Northeast Library
2200 Central Avenue NE
Minneapolis, MN 55418

Please RSVP to Maiyia Kasouaher at hdpilotgrants@umn.edu by January 15, 2020.

PowerPoint Slides will be uploaded after the event has taken place.

Required Letter of Intent

A letter of intent is required. You may submit the LOI online at https://z.umn.edu/2020pilotgrantsLOI or email a completed LOI form to hdpilotgrants@umn.edu by 4:00 p.m. on Friday, February 7, 2020.

The template can be found at https://z.umn.edu/2020pilotgrantsLOI.

Pre-application Technical Workshop - March 3, 2020

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.

451 Lexington Parkway North, Room 2510
Saint Paul, MN 55104
4:00 pm - 6:00 pm

Please RSVP to Maiyia Yang hdpilotgrants@umn.edu by February 27th, 2020.

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/2020pilotgrantsLOI or email a completed LOI form to hdpilotgrants@umn.edu by 4:00 p.m. on Friday, February 7, 2020. The LOI form can be found at https://z.umn.edu/2020pilotgrantsLOIform.

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 28th, 2020. Application details will be provided with the invitation. Deadline for full applications is Friday, April 24th, 2020 by 4:00 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 June 12, 2020. 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.

2020 Key Dates

December 16, 2019: Request for Applications for 2020 Health Disparities Pilot Grants released
January 21, 2020: Informational Session at Northeast Library
February 7, 2020: Deadline for the mandatory Letter of Intent on a health disparities research topic from community-based organizations with an interest in health disparities.
February 10-21, 2020: Matching process for community-based organizations without an academic partner
February 28, 2020: Community-academic teams invited to submit full application
March 6, 2020: Pre-application Technical Workshop (highly recommended, but not required)
April 24, 2020: Full research proposals due from research teams
April 27 – May 11, 2020: Grants reviewed by community and academic review committee
June 10, 2020: Grants reviewed by PHDR Advisory Board
June 12, 2020: Awardees announced
July 2020: Kickoff Orientation and Partnership Workshop
Aug 1, 2020 – Jul 31, 2021: Award Period

*Dates may change without prior notice.

  • 2019-2020
  • 2018-2019
  • 2017-2018
  • 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