AWI announces project funding for grants, internships

The Arizona Water Institute (AWI) is announcing availability of up to $600,000 in funding for collaborative research projects, and $145,000 for faculty incentive grants and student internships across the three state campuses. This year's approach to the AWI grants process is designed to result in a smaller group of larger, more strategic projects. Selected projects are likely to be spread across the identified research focus areas...

September 5, 2008 -- The Arizona Water Institute (AWI) is announcing availability of up to $600,000 in funding for collaborative research projects, and $145,000 for faculty incentive grants and student internships across the three state campuses.

This year's approach to the AWI grants process is designed to result in a smaller group of larger, more strategic projects. Selected projects are likely to be spread across the identified research focus areas (see below). Maximum funding per collaborative project will be $100,000, but AWI will expect projects to add significant cash matching (50% or more of the total budget) from external funding sources. However, AWI may fund some top priority projects even though they are unable to obtain significant matching funds. AWI anticipates putting extensive AWI staff resources into the development, oversight and in some cases the actual work for each funded project.

There are two basic funding sources: 1) the large projects portfolio for collaborative research projects and 2) faculty incentive grants/student internship opportunities on all three campuses. Each of these is addressed in additional detail below.

Joint Pool - Collaborative Grants
Unlike the two previous years, AWI is not soliciting complete proposals this time -- only concept proposals. However, as with previous funding cycles, each project should contain cross-university collaboration to the maximum extent feasible. Project concepts should be structured to maximize opportunities for creative collaboration and to minimize the needs for extensive coordination across different units. Engagement with water managers, community stakeholders and decision makers will be emphasized even more than for AWI's 2007 and 2008 projects. These projects may be funded for more than one year, but with interim deliverables and phased funding to ensure timely performance and no guaranteed funding beyond the first year.

Process
Conceptual proposals are due on Friday October 12 at 5 pm, via email and/or web form. Instructions will be posted on the AWI website by September 19. The concept ideas will be limited to 300 words and should NOT include a budget or a final project team but must include potential stakeholders who might be interested in partnership and financial participation, and a statement addressing the need for and expected impact of the project.

There are no limitations on who can submit concept proposals. However, the funding from AWI grants must be connected to university activities, faculty, staff or students. Those interested in developing concept proposals, including private and public sector interests outside of the universities must contact one of the campus coordinators or AWI associate directors to discuss ideas prior to the due date (contact information appears on the AWI website).

AWI staff can assist project proponents with concept development, and if the concept is selected, will assist with further developing proposals, project teams, and funding options.

AWI staff will jointly develop a list of recommended project ideas, using the review criteria in this document, including internal concepts as well as those developed through this solicitation (perhaps 10 to 15 different potential projects). An estimate of AWI staff time required and possible funding available from various sources will be considered in each case. The recommendations will go to the AWI Executive Committee, along with a list of potential faculty PI's, possible external partners and options for funding for each proposed topic, by November 15.

Shortly after November 15, the AWI Executive Committee will review and approve a final list of priority projects, with the expectation that in some cases AWI and the project team may not be successful in finding sufficient project funding or appropriate partnerships. The Executive Committee will list its priorities in a manner that allows AWI to move on to new projects if the higher priority projects do not move forward expeditiously.

Consistent with the Executive Committee guidance, AWI staff will continue the process of developing projects, identifying and working with PI's, securing matching funds, finalizing draft workplans, and establishing stakeholder and researcher/faculty advisory groups to work with each effort until the full $600,000 is committed across the three universities.

Each project will have an AWI project manager, but in most cases a faculty PI will serve as project director (just as on current grants).

The goal is to have detailed work plans and MOU's in place for work to begin on 1/1/09 (or sooner if possible). We expect that these MOU's will be finalized sequentially over a period of several months and expect most, if not all, of the funds to be allocated and the work initiated in January- February 2009.

Selection Criteria
• Strategic relevance of project topic and connection to AWI research focus areas listed at the end of this document
• Active stakeholder desire for project, including willingness to provide or help secure cash funding and/or actually participate in project activities.
• Significant potential benefits related to water sustainability and AWI mission
• Project characteristics that are uniquely suited to AWI participation
• Commitment to cross university collaboration, public or private sector partnerships and/or other economic or social benefits
• Clearly demonstrated motivation, availability and interest of faculty and AWI staff in pursuing the project

Faculty Incentive Grants
Across the three campuses, approximately $115,000 will be allocated for faculty incentive grants, generally not exceeding $10,000 per individual grant. The principal objective of faculty incentive grants is to cover summer salary and expenses for faculty to develop large grant proposals to external funding agencies and foundations. Incentive grants may also be used to develop curriculum or other products that are directly related to the AWI mission and focus on critical, interdisciplinary sustainability issues connected to water.

The faculty incentive grants will be managed within each university but proposal selection will be coordinated across campuses. AWI will encourage cross university collaboration in these projects, but due to the nature and small size of these grants they will generally support individual faculty members at individual institutions. (It is possible for the same proposal to be submitted to more than one university but only one PI can receive funding per university per proposal). Grant requests must be no more than one page in length, no less than 12 point type single spaced, plus a budget page developed using the AWI budget format on the AWI website. Projects must address one of the AWI research theme areas and will be expected to include significant stakeholder engagement in the development of the larger proposal. Proposals generated are expected to be run through AWI so that AWI benefits from the overhead on successful grants. Payment for the incentive grants will depend on meeting agreed-upon expectations regarding product development and grant proposal submittals.

Process
Faculty incentive proposals are due November 15 at 5 pm. If funding is not entirely committed in the initial round of applications, individual campuses will continue to receive proposals pursuant to this notice until the end of the fiscal year. Funding not used for Faculty Incentives may be available for additional student internships.

Proposals will be submitted via email to the campus coordinators for the campuses where the faculty member resides.

Decisions on these proposals will be made via internal review committees/processes at each university, with input from AWI central staff.

Graduate Student Internships
Student internships are intended to provide real-world, applied experience related to an AWI research theme or water sustainability-related issues within local, regional, state or federal agencies or non-governmental entities. AWI staff are available to help identify and negotiate such opportunities. Faculty members, agencies, non-governmental organizations, or students may propose internships. Internship proposals must include a campus supervisor, a supervisor in the proposed location of work, a description of the work to be performed, an estimate of the number of hours and funding involved, a letter of commitment from the external entity and an identification of project outcomes. At a minimum the hiring agency or entity needs to commit the staff oversight resources to ensure a successful internship. A one-page summary of project outcomes is required at the end of the internship. Funding available for Internships is $30,000.

Process
Student internship proposals for the spring semester are due November 15 at 5 pm. If funding is not entirely committed in the initial round of applications, individual campuses will continue to receive proposals pursuant to this notice until the end of the fiscal year. Internships can also be funded during the summer.

Proposals will be submitted via email to the campus coordinators for the campuses where the faculty or students reside.

Decisions on these proposals will be made via internal review committees/processes at each university, with input from AWI central staff.

AWI Research Focus Areas
AWI has selected 6 research focal areas that are current areas of investment in building the capacity of the university system to support communities, agencies and private sector interests. They include:

• Building the Arizona Hydrologic Information System (AHIS), which is a data access and retrieval platform for water-related information, designed for a variety of users: public, private and research interests.
• Climate change/drought/adaptation, which focuses on reducing vulnerability to droughts and floods, long range planning, scenario development, supply adequacy, and designing strategies for competitiveness in the changing global market.
• Energy/water sustainability, which is centered on the nexus between water and energy issues, ie, the water requirements for generating electric power and the power requirements for pumping, treating and delivering water supplies, and on water and energy conservation.
• Capacity building/watershed research and support, which helps watershed groups, communities, tribal entities, and private sector interests get better access to information for decision-making, including groundwater and surface water modeling, drought planning, facilitation and support for conflict resolution, etc.
• Salinity management & technologies, which develops ways to reduce the cost of desalination, improve efficiency of treatment processes and membranes, and manage waste streams.
• Emerging contaminants and treatment technologies, which includes research into the occurrence, fate, measurement, and treatability, (including the development of detection devices), for emerging contaminants such as pathogens, pharmaceuticals, and other organic contaminants, and issues of emerging concern such as management of sulfate, arsenic, radon and uranium in water.

Please contact one of the AWI staff members if you have any questions.

AWI will post Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) and updates on the website during the process.

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