Stanford Impact Labs is pleased to announce the third call for proposals for Impact Lab Start-Up Funding. These two-year, $250,000 per year, investments will be allocated on a competitive basis to new or existing teams/labs that identify a well-defined social problem they wish to tackle, provide evidence of a strong partnership in place to facilitate the research and development process, communicate a promising research design, demonstrate that they have a credible team in place to carry out the work, and have a compelling theory of the relationship between scientific progress and impact on this problem.
We expect the Start-Up Funding competition will appeal to a wide variety of teams/labs at different stages in their work:
- For more established teams/labs, we expect that applicants would demonstrate a promising new direction that they would not otherwise be in a position to pursue with existing funding/resources. This might involve a new aspect of the problem space in which they work, an opportunity with a new partner, or a strategy for scaling proven interventions to new contexts (as long as there is a clear scientific component as well).
- For new teams/labs, the investment might provide the capital needed to build out a professional team to support an initial project or set of well-defined projects to launch an R&D cycle with an external partner.
We expect to make five to seven investments in this cycle, funding a combination of established and new teams/labs.
PI-eligible Stanford faculty and researchers may apply. If appropriate, faculty may apply in teams where there is a clear commitment by all members to engage in the research and clarity about the skills/capabilities/contributions of each team member. Collaborators may reside at other universities.
When Stanford Impact Labs invests, we invest both our time and our money. We expect to see a return on that investment in terms of improved outcomes on people’s lives, with a particular focus on the lives of marginalized or historically-excluded groups. We’re willing to take bold risks on ambitious ideas, knowing that not every investment will succeed. We’re also willing to be patient, because we understand that making progress against some of society’s hardest problems doesn’t happen overnight.
Start-Up Funds provide selected teams with a two-year investment of $250,000 per year, plus a suite of lab support services tailored to their needs. In exchange, teams/labs that receive Start-Up Funds will be expected to share key learnings, tools, and practices in order to benefit the larger community of Impact Labs on campus.
Candidates that are selected to receive start-up funds will meet with the SIL team to create a delivery plan, identify lab and partner roles and responsibilities, define what success looks like, and map anticipated milestones for the first year. Progress on the plan and milestones will be used to evaluate eligibility to receive the second tranche of funding in the second year.
During the two-year investment period, teams should expect:
- touchpoints every other month with SIL staff on their delivery plan
- a quarterly reflection exercise on key learnings – both successes and failures
- the sharing of tools that you develop in the course of your research and partnership work including training MoUs, data use agreements, job descriptions, training materials for partners, tracking and reporting mechanisms, etc.
- attendance at convenings with other SIL Impact Labs
- participation in media opportunities and narrative building to promote social problem solving work at Stanford (ex: featuring your Impact Lab’s work on our website, participating in a promotional video, presenting at major public events, etc.)
We encourage applicants to budget and plan appropriately for this work. All labs will be expected to have a Program Director/Manager or to designate someone for this role. In the past, labs that didn’t already have someone in this role have typically hired for this role.
While SIL investments are flexible and largely unrestricted, the most compelling budgets will be those that invest resources in partner needs, uptake/implementation strategies, research and administrative support, and data collection or analysis etc. As part of the Letter of Interest, applicants will be requested to provide a high-level summary of how they intend to use the funds, with a more detailed budget requested as part of the full proposal. While course buyouts or summer salary for PIs may make sense in some contexts, the investment team generally views PI time as an in-kind contribution to the work of an Impact Lab. We understand that, in some schools, PIs must raise their own salaries and account for their time through grants; in those contexts, SIL is more open to providing salary support.