Grand Research Challenge Request for Proposals


Application Deadline Date


Principal Investigator (PI) Eligibility: All Grand Research Challenge (GRC) project PIs must be tenure-line faculty at HWW consortium institutions in the humanities or humanistic social sciences

Collaborator Eligibility: GRC project collaborators must include one of the following: faculty at a HWW consortium institution other than that of the PI, faculty at Minority Serving Institutions or community and regional colleges, and community organizations (excluding for-profit entities).

Award Amount: Up to $150,000

Project Period: January 1, 2023–December 31, 2025

Application Deadline: November 15, 2022 at 11:59 p.m., Central Time

How to Submit: Proposals should be emailed as a single PDF to

Before you apply: Work with your home university’s Office of Proposal Development or equivalent to ensure that your proposal meets these requirements and complies with your home university’s policies on sponsored research. PIs should contact their HWW consortium center director, department chairs, and college deans (when applicable) no later than October 1, 2022, with an email indicating intent to submit to HWW.

Humanities Without Walls: The Grand Research Challenge Initiative

The Humanities Without Walls Grand Research Challenge (GRC) funds collaborative and interdisciplinary humanities research projects that demonstrate a commitment to methodologies of reciprocity and redistribution. These methods are at the heart of HWW’s work to support humanities scholarship that is truly “without walls”; i.e., research that is not only publicly and community engaged but co-designed by all partners in recognition that expertise is located within not just within research universities but also in scholars located in a wide variety of institution types, occupational positions, and the communities.

Reciprocity and Redistribution

Our aim is to develop sustainable practices which guarantee that equitable, non-extractive structures and ways of working are embedded in intellectual collaborative projects—so that they will occupy a more prominent place in the long-range transformations of academic culture in the humanities to which HWW contributes.

HWW understands reciprocity and redistribution as:

  • methods for engaging collaborators in genuinely equal partnerships that are not unidirectional or faculty-centered (i.e., from campus outward, or hierarchical in ways that privilege presumptively white western scholarly expertise).
  • strategies for equity-based change by design. These strategies aim to challenge the academic status quo by enabling community partners to participate on their own terms, to co-create transformative projects, and to be equitably resourced for their contributions.
  • practices that create new forms of collaboration: between faculty, students, and staff; between HWW consortium universities, regional and community colleges, and MSIs; and between each campus and its variety of public and community stakeholders.

This RFP is also available as a downloadable PDF.

Guideline Forms and Documents

2022 Grand Research Challenge RFP.pdf213.89 KB 2022 HWW3 signature page - checklist.pdf262 KB 2022 Budget Template HWW.xlsx13.56 KB Budget Guidance for GRC Applicants.pdf276.1 KB 2022 HWW Budget Justification Form.docx77.55 KB

Application Guidelines

Applications should be submitted by email to Applications must consist of a single PDF file incorporating all of the following materials:

  • Completed Signature Page and Application Checklist (PDF)
  • Proposal abstract (no more than 200 words)
  • Proposal narrative (no more than 2,000 words, excluding notes). This is a descriptive rationale of your research-based project, which includes evidence of:
    • Commitment to methods of reciprocity and redistribution through project co-design with collaborative partners
    • Plans for graduate partnership and collaboration
    • Identification of proposed outcomes such as publications, public or community-facing events, multimedia projects, etc.
  • Work schedule detailing activities from January 1, 2023, through December 31, 2025.
  • Names, contact information, and a brief description of expected intellectual contributions for project collaborators, including evidence of their participation in design of the proposed project.
  • Detailed budget outlining all anticipated expenses, using this budget template form (opens in Excel)
  • Budget justification narrative, using this budget justification form (opens in Word Doc)
  • Name and contact information for the departmental-level financial manager at the PI’s institution.
  • CVs or resumes for the project PI and primary collaborators (maximum of five, at no more than two pages each)
  • Letter of Intent from the PI’s university indicating the proposal has been reviewed and approved at an institutional level. This is typically provided by your campus sponsored projects office. NB: A letter of support is NOT required from PI applicants from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.

Application Deadline Details

Applications are due by November 15, 2022 at 11:59 p.m. Central Time.


To be eligible for funding, research teams must:


  • include participants from one HWW consortial partner institution and one or more of the following: Minority Serving Institutions (MSIs), including Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and Tribal Colleges and Universities (TCUs) and Hispanic Serving Institutions (HSIs), regional and community colleges, and community organizations (excluding for-profit entities)


Applicants will know the results of the competition by mid-January 2023.

Additional Details

Proposal Budget

Maximum award amount: $150,000.

The amount awarded will vary according to the requirements detailed in each application. However, we strongly encourage teams to think expansively in terms of budget. Budget design should reflect the priorities of reciprocity and redistribution through equitable remuneration of all collaborative partners, whether they are faculty of institutions of higher education, community partners, and/or graduate students. All funds awarded must be expended by December 31, 2025. Annual progress reports, including detailed financial information, are due from the project PI to HWW staff by October 1, beginning in 2023.

The budget should constitute your best estimate of the project’s total costs. All expenses for your project should fit into one of the existing budget categories If you find that you need to alter the budget form, please contact us at for assistance.

The budget justification should explain each budgeting decision in narrative detail to provide a clear understanding of the necessity and basis for all proposed costs.

Please find additional budgeting recommendations and best practices in our Budget Guidance for GRC Applicants (PDF).


The PI’s university will receive the full award and subsequently issue subawards to collaborating institutions or organizations. Each subaward requires a letter of support from the subawardee institution or organization, a subaward budget form, and a subaward budget justification form. These materials should be included with the primary project proposal to HWW.