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University of Wisconsin–Madison

Contemporary Social Problems Initiative

The Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Graduate Education (OVCRGE) has announced an initiative to support two-year grants for research with implications for tackling contemporary social problems in order to promote economic prosperity, enhance social and psychological well-being and improve health outcomes in the United States.

This program, the Contemporary Social Problems Initiative, is intended to broadly complement the goals of the campus-wide Alliance for the American Dream: Dream Up Wisconsin initiative, which is led by the Institute for Research on Poverty, funded by Schmidt Futures and seeks to improve economic security, and expand, strengthen, and stabilize the American middle-class. This OVCRGE initiative is backed by at least $1 million in funding provided by the Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation (WARF).

UW-Madison researchers are invited to submit proposals addressing a wide range of topics related to economic security and prosperity, enhancing social and psychological well-being and promoting health. Applicants can be single or collaborative investigators. New avenues of research that are interdisciplinary, grounded in modern technological tools and data science, and both draw from and benefit a diverse set of people and communities are encouraged.

Key research themes include, but are not limited to:

  • Income and wealth distribution; labor market dynamics; determinants and facilitators of economic prosperity and stability; and the causes, characteristics, and consequences of income inequality.
  • Policies and programs to promote economic prosperity, social and psychological well-being and health through education, training, and human capital development throughout the life course.
  • Innovative use of technology to promote economic security, social and psychological well-being and healthy lifestyles.
  • The role of the private sector, including entrepreneurship, in promoting shared economic prosperity
  • Policies and programs to promote socially and economically stable families and child well-being



  • The abstract is due on:  November 16, 2018
  • The full proposal is due on:  January 18, 2019


  • The lead Principal Investigator (PI) must be a UW-Madison faculty member or a researcher with permanent PI status.
  • CHS faculty and academic staff without permanent PI status may participate as co-PIs.


The on-line application form is available at:

All applicants must provide:

  1. A project title
  2. A list of anticipated co-Principal Investigators, co-investigators, and collaborators
  3. A research abstract (equivalent to one page of printed text) that addresses the following topics (in accessible language):
    • What is the contemporary social problem being addressed? Why is this problem significant to improving the health and well-being of individuals in the United States?
    • What are the major aims of the study?
    • How will you approach achieving these major aims? Describe the research design and methods for achieving the study aims.
    • What are the innovative features of the research project?
    • What are the expected outcomes (e.g., grant submission, publications, evaluation of a new intervention/treatment)?
  1. The amount of funding requested (Research grants will be available in two categories: projects less than $100,000, and those $100,000 up to a maximum of $250,000.)

Your abstract will be reviewed by the appropriate Divisional Associate Vice Chancellor for Research, who will send you notification about whether your abstract fits the criteria. Once notified (by November 30, 2018) you may proceed with writing your full proposal. You will be able to submit your proposal electronically beginning in early December. Complete proposals are due by 4:30 pm on January 18, 2019.

For questions regarding submitting an abstract or eligibility, please contact Associate Vice Chancellor for Research, Jan Greenberg (

For technical questions or for general information, please send an email to


A faculty committee of subject matter experts will review the proposals to identify those that hold the most promise for meeting the goals of this initiative.  The committee will then make recommendations to the Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Graduate Education.  The OVCRGE will make final selections.


A progress report and a final report will be required. The reports will provide a summary of the progress that was accomplished on the project.  Second year funding is contingent on having spent down 75 percent of Year 1 funds and on the receipt of a progress report. The final report should include citations to any published papers or conference presentations that derive from the research undertaken or the equipment purchased and any new grants that were awarded or submitted by the research team.


How much is the funding?

Research grants will be available in two categories: projects less than $100,000, and those $100,000 up to a maximum of $250,000.

Can faculty salary support be requested?

For faculty on 9-month appointments, only summer salary support may be requested. Faculty with 12-month appointments are not eligible for faculty salary support.

If I applied for a UW2020 project that is related, am I eligible to apply for the Contemporary Social Problems (CSP) Initiative?

Yes. But you are only eligible to receive one of the grants. You cannot be awarded a UW2020 grant and a CSP initiative grant for the same proposal.

Can I be a PI on more than one proposal?

An individual can be PI on only one CSP Initiative proposal. It is not a problem to be PI on one proposal and be a co-PI or collaborator on another.

Is there a matching fund requirement?


When will awards be announced?

Awards will be announced in May 2019. Projects may begin in July. The award period is up to two years with one year of funding awarded at a time.