Early Stage Urban Research: RFP

Each year, the Initiative on Cities invites Boston University faculty and graduate students to apply for seed funding through our Early Stage Urban Research Awards. These awards support research addressing urban challenges and urban populations in the U.S and abroad. 

Please note that submissions for our 2021 Early Stage Urban Research Awards have closed.

Early Stage Urban Research Request for Proposals: Spring 2021

The Initiative on Cities (IOC) is pleased to announce its Spring 2021 Request for Proposals for our Early Stage Urban Research Awards. These seed grants support research addressing urban challenges and urban populations in the U.S. and abroad. This year, we are particularly interested in proposals related to race, place, and spaceequity and inclusion; contemporary implications of history; lessons and implications of COVID-19; and international projects. As in prior years, we are also interested in proposals that leverage data from the Menino Survey of Mayors in new ways; seven years’ worth of Menino Survey codebooks are available upon request. Additionally, we always welcome projects from other academic disciplines that work toward sustainable, just, and inclusive urban transformation.

Awards are open to all Boston University schools, and interdisciplinary collaboration is encouraged. BU faculty and BU graduate students with faculty oversight are eligible to apply for funding. Please note that past awardees are eligible to apply for new research projects unrelated to prior awards. Successful proposals will receive seed funding up to $10,000.

Last year, we funded ten proposals through our traditional RFP, as well as an additional five COVID-19 Research-to-Action proposals. Awarded proposals last year included studying female homeownership in U.S. cities, exploring civil service reform, research about urban greenspace and health, projects in Istanbul and Copenhagen, and an examination of race and policing during the COVID-19 pandemic.

We seek to continue our catalytic investment in diverse academic research across the Boston University community, while advancing the understanding of complex urban challenges and effective policies and solutions.

Proposals will be reviewed by members of the IOC Faculty Advisory Board and IOC leadership and staff. Grant awards should be used within a reasonable timeframe and recipients are invited to publish relevant working papers in our Working Paper Series, as well as white papers or policy briefs.


All BU faculty and BU graduate students with faculty oversight are eligible to apply for funding. Please note that BU policy prohibits faculty on 12-month appointments and full-time staff from receiving additional compensation. Faculty with 9-month appointments, as well as BU graduate students, are eligible to receive summer funding. IOC seed grant funding is not able to cover fringe benefits or conference travel.


Please follow our RFP Guidelines for all submissions. If applicable, please click to download the templates for the Faculty letter of support and Organization support form letter.

All proposals must be submitted as a single PDF and include the relevant documents listed. Submissions should be between 4-5 pages in total, excluding letters of support and student resumes, if applicable. All fields are required unless otherwise specified.

Timeline & Deadlines

  • Submissions have closed. The submission deadline was 8:00am EDT on Monday, March 15, 2021. 
  • Acceptances and any Revise and Resubmit Requests will be notified by Tuesday, April 20, 2021.
  • Invited revisions will be due by 8:00am on Monday, April 26, 2021.
  • All successful applicants will be notified no later than Monday, May 11, 2021.
  • All grants will be awarded by mid-June 2021.


Please direct any questions to David Gross at davgross@bu.edu.