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Civic Innovation Challenge (CIVIC)

Status: Archived

Archived funding opportunity

This document has been archived. See NSF 24-534 for the latest version.

Important information for proposers

All proposals must be submitted in accordance with the requirements specified in this funding opportunity and in the NSF Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide (PAPPG) that is in effect for the relevant due date to which the proposal is being submitted. It is the responsibility of the proposer to ensure that the proposal meets these requirements. Submitting a proposal prior to a specified deadline does not negate this requirement.

A research and action competition driven by community priorities

Supports planning and implementation of community-university partnerships with the potential for significant near-term community impact in one of two focus areas: communities and mobility, or resilience to natural disasters.


The Civic Innovation Challenge (CIVIC) is a research and action competition that accelerates the transition to practice of foundational research and emerging technologies into communities through civic-engaged research. By addressing priorities at the local scale that are relevant across the US, CIVIC is laying the foundation for a broader and more fluid exchange of research and technology capabilities and civic priorities through joint partnerships involving civic stakeholders and the research community. CIVIC funds projects that pilot state-of-the-art solutions over 12 months, following a six-month planning phase, and have the potential for lasting impact in the partnering community as well as the potential to be scaled and implemented in other communities.

Building on other stakeholder-engaged research programs such as NSF’s Smart & Connected Communities program, CIVIC is uniquely designed to enable transition to practice of innovations into communities, as follows: (1) CIVIC flips the community-university dynamic, asking communities to identify civic priorities ripe for innovation and then to partner with researchers to address those priorities; (2) CIVIC focuses on research-centered solutions that are ready for piloting in and with communities on a short timescale, where real-world outcomes can be evaluated within 12 months; (3) CIVIC requires a coalition of civic partners and stakeholders and a multi-disciplinary set of researchers to co-create and execute pilot projects; and (4) CIVIC organizes and fosters nationwide “communities of practice” around high-need problem areas that allow for meaningful knowledge sharing and cross-site collaboration during both the pre-development and piloting stages.

For this solicitation, civic partnership and engagement activities, communities, and academic and civic partners must be based in the United States or its protectorates. For purposes of clarity, civic partners and stakeholders may include local, state, or tribal government officials; non-profit representatives; community organizers or advocates; community service providers; and/or others working to improve their communities.

CIVIC is organized as a two-stage competition with two tracks centered around the following topic areas:

  • Track A. Living in a changing climate: pre-disaster action around adaptation, resilience, and mitigation; and
  • Track B. Bridging the gap between essential resources and services & community needs.

In Stage 1, approximately 50 Planning Grant awards will be made – each with a budget of up to $50,000 for six months to undertake planning and team development activities. These include solidifying the team, maturing the project plans, and preparing a well-developed full proposal for submission to Stage 2. Only awardees of Stage 1 proposals will be eligible to submit for Stage 2.

In Stage 2, approximately 20 Full Awards will be made. These will be selected from Stage 1 award recipients. For Stage 2, proposals will be considered with budgets up to $1,000,000 for up to 12 months. Proposals must describe how the PIs will execute and evaluate their research-centered pilot projects.

Throughout both stages, NSF grantee (NSF award 1931690) MetroLab Network (metrolabnetwork.org, nsfcivicinnovation.org) will foster “communities of practice” through in-person and virtual activities, aimed at enhancing the teams’ capacity-building, networking, impact, and ability to create methods and solutions transferable to other communities.

The CIVIC research and action competition is jointly supported by NSF’s Directorate for Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE), Directorate for Engineering (ENG), Directorate for Geosciences (GEO), and Directorate for Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences (SBE), the Department of Energy (DOE), and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). NSF may share proposals submitted in response to this solicitation with other federal agencies interested in funding projects.

Program contacts

David Corman
Program Director, CISE/CNS
dcorman@nsf.gov (703) 292-8754 CISE/CNS
Michal Ziv-El
Program Director, CISE/CNS
mzivel@nsf.gov (703) 292-4926 TIP/ITE
Linda Bushnell
Program Director, CISE/CNS
lbushnel@nsf.gov (703) 292-8950 CISE/CNS
Sandip Roy
Program Director, CISE/CNS
saroy@nsf.gov (703) 292-7096
Ralph Wachter
Program Director, CISE/CNS
rwachter@nsf.gov (703) 292-8950 CISE/CNS
Yueyue Fan
Program Director, ENG/CMMI
yfan@nsf.gov (703) 292-4453
Daan Liang
Program Director, ENG/CMMI
dliang@nsf.gov (703) 292-2441 ENG/CMMI
Barbara Ransom
Program Director, GEO/OAD
bransom@nsf.gov (703) 292-7792 GEO/RISE
Sara Kiesler
Program Director, SBE/SES
skiesler@nsf.gov (703) 292-8643

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