New Initiatives Grant

Call for Proposals

Green leaves tree branch


The New Initiatives Fund (NIF) provides up to $10,000 to support efforts at securing external funding for new cross-cutting initiatives.  The program provides teaching release, salary, and other support to help individuals and small teams pursue major opportunities where the effort is concentrated but the benefits would be widespread.

Activities Supported

NIF awards help stimulate cross-cutting initiatives with potential to advance the mission of the University by attracting significant new extramural funding.  In particular, the program provides support in situations where a significant workload would be concentrated on an individual or small team to prepare an external proposal but the future benefits are shared by a wider stakeholder group.  NIF funds may be used for teaching release or salary (including staff and student salaries), project-related travel, training, and other necessary expenses associated with pursuing the identified opportunity.  

Examples of the kinds of opportunities supported by the program include but are not limited to: 

  • Grants to establish fellowship, traineeship, or summer research programs (e.g. NSF-NRT, -S/STEM, -IUSE, -IGE, NIH-RISE, Murdock-Partners-in-Science, Department of Education TRiO)
  • Programmatic or infrastructure grants toward seeding new cross-cutting research centers or institutes (e.g. NSF-GC, -CREST, -PFC)
  • Large-scale (>$1M) research or programmatic initiatives involving multiple faculty, partners, or organizations
  • Grants to fund major infrastructure or infrastructure improvements supporting the university’s research and creative mission (e.g. NSF-ART)

For projects involving multiple institutions, Western need not necessarily serve as the lead institution, but the project should significantly advance Western’s mission.

Program Limitations

All teaching releases require prior chair and dean approval.  NIF awards cannot be used for “overload pay” exceeding full-time when all sources are combined.  NIF awards are unable to support efforts to obtain conventional single- or few-investigator grants (e.g. NSF-RUI, -CAREER, -REU, NIH-R15, and similar programs), ordinary equipment grants (e.g. NSF-MRI), or other small- to mid-scale opportunities under $250k.  For those programs, Principal Investigators (PIs) may consider applying for a Mini Grant or Pilot Project Grant. Applications to the NIF program must be received at least three months prior to the extramural funding opportunity due date and applications are not reviewed during summer. 


The program is open to all non-student employees with formal appointments to the university. This includes staff, research associates, tenured, tenure-track, and non-tenure track faculty.

  • Recipients may not currently hold or have held a NIF award in the previous 12-month period.
  • Proposals are accepted from individuals and teams; for team proposals one member serves as the PI and the eligibility criteria are applied only to that individual.  Where justified, teams may request more than $10,000 when required for major opportunities; please contact RSP for guidance.

Application Checklist

The proposal consists of a narrative describing the opportunity, plan of action, anticipated outcomes, timeline, participants, and proposed budget, as well as two-page curricula vitae for the principal participants. There is no page limit, but proposals should be kept as concise as possible. Ancillary documents such as letters of commitment from collaborators or partners may also be included, bundled with the project narrative as a single PDF file.


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Application Process

Snow covered mountains


  1. Prospective applicants are encouraged but not required to submit a brief pre-proposal for initial feedback. Pre-proposals should succinctly summarize the opportunity, plan of action, anticipated outcomes, and participants. Pre-proposals may be submitted directly to

  2. Send your proposal (single pdf file containing the project narrative, budget, curricula vitae and other supplementary materials) to your department chair via email for approval and supporting comments.


  1. Review attached proposal materials sent by applicant via email.
  2. In that email thread add comments. 

  3. If approved, forward email thread (with supporting comments) to College Dean.


Deans will review the application and if approved, forward email thread (with attachments) to

Evaluation Of Proposals

Aerial view of WWU campus

Proposals will be reviewed by the RCA Council whose recommendations are provided to the Vice Provost for Research. Proposers may be invited to meet with the panel to discuss their project and answer questions. The selection process is expected to be very competitive. Proposals are evaluated based on:

  • Potential impact on the University’s capacity for research, scholarship or creative expression
  • Potential impact on students
  • Alignment with WWU’s strategic plan 
  • For proposals targeting extramural funding opportunities, award size and indirect cost recovery
  • Completeness, and strength of statement of need/problem/creative activity and expected impacts
  • Suitability/feasibility of methods, resources, staffing and timeline 
  • Qualifications and previous track record of the PI/team members
  • Clarity and feasibility of endpoints

Award Management

Brick building and trees

Grants are made for a fixed term of 12 months. Awarded grant funds will be available for use until the completion of the project or for one year after the award is made, whichever comes first. Any significant changes to project scope or budget must be pre-approved by RSP. Any unexpended funds remaining at the end of the grant period will be returned to the fund.


Crab crawling across hands

When an award is made, the award agreement may include conditions or milestones elucidated during the review process deemed appropriate by the Vice Provost in order to help ensure project success. Such conditions may take a variety of forms (e.g. a requirement for the PI(s) to work with a mentoring team, or achieve intermediate deliverables). In addition, a final report is required at the end of the grant period summarizing activities undertaken, outcomes, participants, and a description of how funds were expended. Submission of an external proposal is also normally a requirement. The final report is due 90 days after the close of the grant.