Special Call for Proposals: Strengthening Community Resilience in U.S. Territories


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Overview

Proposal Q&A Session

Learn more about this funding opportunity by watching the recorded Q&A session here!

For decades, social and public health behavioral scientists have characterized the human toll associated with disasters while striving to more effectively prevent, protect against, mitigate, respond to, and recover from their consequences. These events result in disastrous impacts for island communities and new approaches to disaster science, such as applied and translation research, are urgently needed. One strategy to improve individual and community resilience is by applying interdisciplinary approaches to disaster science, inclusive of social science, engineering, economics, public health, and other disciplines. Integrating information, data, techniques, tools, perspectives, concepts, and/or theories from multiple disciplines provides an opportunity to lay the groundwork for building a secure and resilient nation to deal with natural and human caused hazards.

Strengthening the resilience of individuals and communities to disasters is a shared responsibility, as outlined in the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA’s) 2015 National Preparedness Goal. Focusing on community resilience is particularly important because it enhances the health and well-being of increasingly diverse communities and reduces the negative impacts of disaster. Therefore, strengthening community resilience benefits disaster planners and community members alike, and expands the traditional preparedness framework.

With this in mind, the Natural Hazards Center (NHC)—with support from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the National Science Foundation (NSF)—is issuing a special call for proposals focused on conducting studies designed to strengthen individual and community resilience in the inhabited U.S. territories of American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Proposals may focus on one specific territory or may offer comparisons across territories and other regions.

Award Details

  • Available funds will support 10 to 15 awards in the amount of $25,000 to $50,000 each.
  • Proposals are due by 5:00 p.m. MDT on Thursday, September 30, 2021. Award announcements will be made no later than October 27, 2021.
  • Award funds will be disbursed upon completion of required paperwork, as described below, and funded activities may not commence until human subjects’ approval has been verified.
  • The project timeline is October 2021 through August 2022.
    • Reports are due April 1, 2022. Additional due dates for project deliverables are listed in the timeline below.
  • Investigators who were not previously funded in the first special call for Research in U.S. Territories will be given preference for this funding round. Prior awardees are eligible to apply if the proposal focuses on a new project or substantially builds upon work awarded in the prior round.

Focus Areas

We invite proposals for projects that will evaluate public health emergency preparedness interventions, programs, or tools; and/or identify factors associated with health outcomes, effectiveness criteria, or metrics within the context of community resilience. However, all proposals are required to focus on developing evidence-based practices to support one or more of the following areas:

Focus Area 1: Public Health Workforce Management

  • Workforce Resilience: Studies of individual, workforce, or organizational ability to withstand and recover from adversity in the event of a short or prolonged disaster. This may include identifying factors associated with the ability to withstand and recover from adversity.
  • Staffing and Expertise: Studies aimed at identifying factors that optimize the Public Health Emergency Preparedness and Response (PHEPR) workforce, especially through a diversity, inclusion, and equity lens. This includes evaluating training programs to guide State, Tribal, Local, and Territorial (STLT) health departments in workforce management (e.g., allocation of staff resources at different response stages, extending licenses, credentials, and accreditations easily during an emergency response, etc.). Studies using metrics based on Incident Management System (IMS) are encouraged.

Focus Area 2: Multi-Sector Preparedness Partnerships and Coalitions

  • Cross-Sector Engagement and Collaboration: Studies of policies, programs, and practices to build, sustain, and mobilize cross-sector partnerships and coalitions to support PHEPR effectiveness.
  • Network Structures/Partnership Models: Agency, sector, or partner structures or models that drive how groups function in the public health emergency preparedness and response space (i.e., in siloes, parallel, or through coordination).
  • Public Health Trust: The understanding, building, and sustainment of trust in public health preparedness, response, and recovery agencies; and action—including the study of the effectiveness of political and community partnerships, sociological factors, and community polarization.
  • Roles and Responsibilities: As they relate to public health—particularly non-traditional and multi-sector—partnerships during a response. This topic area also includes the study of legal considerations across jurisdictions or for specific partners that impact roles and responsibilities related to public health preparedness and response.

Focus Area 3: Engaging Community-Based Partners to Improve Outcomes for At-Risk Populations

  • Community Preparedness: Develop processes for identifying and conducting needs assessment of at-risk populations that may be disproportionately impacted by public health emergencies. Include collaborations with community partners to plan for the access and functional needs of these populations.
  • Community Recovery: Develop or identify best practices for engaging community-based partners to assist with the transition between response and recovery. Identify critical services and best practices for ensuring at-risk populations are integrated into community recovery planning efforts.
  • Information Sharing: Engage community-based partners to identify the most effective methods for communication of health-related information and situational awareness among government agencies and other partners.

Proposals may explore compound, cascading, or co-occurring disasters happening during and influenced by the COVID-19 pandemic. However, this award opportunity aims to support projects that explore a broader spectrum of natural hazard risks. Therefore, proposals focused solely on COVID-19 are not eligible. Moreover, projects are sought that use a convergence research framework that is problem-focused, solutions-based, and interdisciplinary in nature.

Key Proposal Elements

In addition to the focus areas specified above, all projects are required to include objectives and goals that have clearly defined implications for public health practice and policy (see examples for how to state public health objectives in the “Summary Box” description here). To meet this requirement, we strongly recommend projects that incorporate one or more of the following elements:

  • Public Health Tools and Resources: A hallmark of rapid response disaster science is the ability to leverage and adapt existing public health tools and resources. This supports translation efforts as well as identifies common barriers to translating research and other scientific endeavors into practice and policy. Thus, projects that incorporate existing public health tools and resources will be preferred. See examples of public health tools and resources here.

  • Social Determinants of Health: Social Determinants of Health (SDOH) refer to the complex, integrated, and overlapping social structures and economic systems that include social and physical environments and health services. These determinants are shaped by the level of income, power, and resources at global, national, and local levels. Projects that work across sectors and in partnership with communities to study, measure, or evaluate the SDOH and a community’s ability to prepare for, respond to, and recover from emergencies will be preferred. Factors may include, but not be limited to the following:

    • Economic Stability: Such as employment, income, wealth, food security, housing stability.
    • Education: Inclusive of all levels, as well as language and literacy.
    • Healthcare Access: Includes access to insurance, primary care, and health literacy.
    • Neighborhood and Environment: Such as access to healthy foods, crime and violence, environmental and climate conditions, housing quality, access to internet.
    • Social and Community Context: Inclusive of other characteristics within which people live, learn, work, and play. Examples include discrimination, civic participation, incarceration, social cohesion, and workplace conditions.

  • Health Equity Goals and Science: Health equity is when everyone has a fair and just opportunity to attain their highest level of health. Achieving this requires addressing and understanding the impact of health disparities (i.e., differences in health outcomes that are linked to social, economic, geographic, and/or environmental disadvantage) and health inequities (i.e., disparities in health that stem from unjust, systemic policies, and practices) on health outcomes. As an extension of SDOH, we recommend projects have a health equity goal and incorporate elements of health equity science within an emergency preparedness context. This may include the following areas:

    • Measuring Disparities: Measuring or documenting one or more health disparities (in absolute and/or relative terms) or their change over time.
    • Measuring Inequities: Measuring or documenting one or more health inequities (in absolute and/or relative terms) or their change over time.
    • Methods to Improve Health Equity Research and Practice: For example, developing methods, instruments, or other innovations to advance progress towards health equity or improve measurement of social determinants of health.

In addition, all applicants are encouraged to collaborate with the large community of scholars, public health practitioners, and community leaders to leverage existing resources and advance ongoing activities in the area of study. Applications that include letters of support from study partners are preferred.


Proposal and Award Information

Pre-Award

  • Prior to submitting a proposal, all prospective applicants are encouraged to attend a Proposal Consultation Q&A Session with award program staff from the Natural Hazards Center on Wednesday, September 8, 2021 from 11:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m. MDT. This session will allow potential investigators to learn more about this funding opportunity, ask questions, and receive support regarding preferred approaches to the study design, including specific feedback on sampling, methods, and topical areas of focus. Potential applicants can register for the session here.
  • The lead investigator for each proposal is required to schedule at least one 15-minute meeting with Courtney Welton-Mitchell—Director, Public Health Preparedness and Disaster Response Certificate, Colorado School of Public Health—during the pre-award proposal preparation stage. Meeting slots are available here, with dates available from Wednesday, September 8 through Wednesday, September 29, 2021. The purpose of these meetings is to provide applicants with resources to strengthen submissions. Please come prepared with questions or requests for feedback specific to your proposed project.

Proposal Submission

  • Project Title: Limit 12 words.

  • Investigator Name(s) and Affiliation(s)

  • Full Abstract: Limit 500 words.

  • Brief Abstract: Limit 100 words. To be posted on the Natural Hazards Center website. See examples of the format here.

  • 3-5 Keywords

  • Focus Area: Proposals must focus on at least one of the three focus areas identified above.

  • Location of Study: Proposals must focus on at least one inhabited U.S. territory, and may focus on multiple territories or compare a territory to another place.

  • Disciplinary Focus: A 250-word statement describing how the project team is interdisciplinary in nature. Applicants must demonstrate how the project is advancing convergence-oriented science that is interdisciplinary in scope, problem-focused, and solutions-based.

  • Proposal: The proposal should be uploaded as a PDF and use the headings for each section listed below. The proposal should be a maximum of 8 single-spaced pages and include the following content:

    • A brief statement on Intellectual Merit—describing the potential of the proposed activity to advance knowledge—and Broader Public Health Impacts—describing the potential of the proposed activity to benefit public health practice through the achievement of specific, desired public health applications.
    • Research Question(s)
    • Literature Review: This should demonstrate the authors’ knowledge of the area of research being proposed as well as state the gaps that this study will fill.
    • Study Design: This should include the data collection plan, study location(s), sampling strategy and expected number of participants, plan for partnering with local agencies or organizations, procedures, measures, data analysis plan, and project timeline. The proposal should also specify the natural hazard threat(s) and/or disasters of interest and identify whether the project involves the collection of perishable data, the analysis or primary or secondary data, and/or the evaluation of existing tools or other resources.
    • Ethics Statement: This should describe how the investigator(s) will ensure the ethical conduct of research for the benefit of the communities where they work. Note that all applicants are encouraged to complete the CONVERGE Broader Ethical Considerations Training Module in preparation for writing this statement.
    • Dissemination Plan: A plan for returning data and/or results to locally-affected people and/or communities no later than the project end date of August 5, 2022.

In addition to the 8-page, single-spaced proposal, applicants will also upload:

  • References: The list of references should be complete and consistently formatted in APA 7th edition style. There is no page limit for the reference list.

  • Budget and Budget Justification: The budget and budget justification should be no longer than 500 words in length and provide a breakdown of anticipated expenditures within the predetermined range (in this case, $25,000 to $50,000).

    • Proposals less than $25,000 will be accepted, but proposals over $50,000 will be returned without review.
    • Funding should be used for expenses associated with the proposed project. Funds may be dedicated to fieldwork expenses, the purchase of research equipment or datasets, payments to data collectors, methodologists, statisticians or other collaborators, payments for translators or other team members, participant compensation, and/or dissemination activities including for conference travel or registration expenses. In terms of budget needs for field equipment, please consider exploring options available through NSF-supported RAPID facility before making requests.
    • Please carefully read the “How the Funding Will Be Issued” statement included below, as it provides details for how many investigators can be included in the budget and clarifies how and when the award funds will be issued.
    • Overhead and indirect costs are not allowed.
    • Award recipients are responsible for all personal tax-related expenses associated with accepting award payments. These potential tax obligations cannot be included in the project budget.

  • Supporting Documents for Students: Master's and PhD students are welcome to apply for this special call for funding. If a student is listed as the lead investigator they will need to submit:

    • A statement explaining qualifications and ability to implement the proposed methods, a plan for managing a project team (if applicable), and a timeline for completing the proposed work during their degree program.
    • A letter of support from an academic advisor or committee member.

  • Human Subjects Approval Letter: An official letter from the applicant’s human subjects committee approving the research, or waiving the need for approval, will be required before an award is activated and funds are released. The proposal may be submitted before human subjects committee approval is obtained, but we recommend that human subjects approval be sought as early as possible given the relatively short timeline from announcement of the award to the required submission of research deliverables. If a human subjects committee approval letter is not sent with your proposal, please include a short statement about your plans for meeting this requirement. Data collection may not begin until a letter of approval or waiver from a university is submitted to the Natural Hazards Center.

The above information and associated documents must be submitted through the Natural Hazards Center online proposal submission form. Emailed proposals will be returned without review. Proposals are due no later than 5:00 p.m. MDT on Thursday, September 30, 2021 and no exceptions will be made for late submissions. Award announcements will be made by October 27, 2021.

Post-Award Project Deliverables and Recommendations

In addition to the above proposal requirements, all award recipients—including the lead investigator and any collaborators—are required to do the following:

  • Schedule a meeting with Courtney Welton-Mitchell—a public health and disaster consultant—at least once during the post-award research implementation phase. Details will be provided with award notification.
  • Submit a final 20-page, double-spaced report summarizing the project activities and results from this special funding call. The first draft report is due by April 1, 2022.
    • Formatting guidelines will be provided by the Natural Hazards Center. The Natural Hazards Center will provide two rounds of editing for each report: one for content peer review, and another for copy editing. If successfully reviewed and accepted, the report will be included in an edited compilation to be published on the Natural Hazards Center website.
  • Submit a Certificate of Completion: All award recipients must complete the CONVERGE Public Health Disaster Research Training Module prior to submitting a final report. Upon successful completion of the 10-question quiz at the end of the module, the user receives a signed certificate of completion. Certificates for each researcher must be submitted alongside the final report. All awardees will be notified as soon as the module is released.
  • Present your findings during an internal meeting on May 3, 2022 with representatives from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, public health and Natural Hazards Center peer reviewers, and other award recipients to get feedback on your report.
  • Submit final report, with all editing recommendations integrated, no later than 5:00 p.m. MDT on July 22, 2022.
  • Participate in a final public webinar on August 4, 2022 where all award recipients will share key findings and lessons learned.

In addition to the above proposal requirements, it is recommended that all award recipients—including the lead investigator and any collaborators—do the following:

How the Funding Will be Issued

The lead investigator, as designated in the proposal, must be from an academic institution based in a U.S. state or territory, including American Samoa, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, or the U.S. Virgin Islands. Other co-leads, project assistants, or local collaborators do not have to be affiliated with a university or located in a U.S. state or territory—these individuals cannot, however, serve as the project lead and primary award recipient.

Award funding will be provided to the lead investigator and/or co-leads, project assistants, or other local collaborators in the form of a fellowship. Once the steps below are completed, these payments will be sent directly to the award recipients as designated in the budget to cover project-related expenses or time dedicated to data collection, analysis efforts, or the dissemination of results.

The funding can be distributed across team members as designated by the lead investigator (for example, 50% of the award sent to the lead, 25% to the co-lead, and 25% to a local collaborator). No more than five recipients can be designated for any one award.

Award funding will be processed after proposals are accepted and awards are announced. To receive the award funding, the designated recipients will need to return:

  • One copy of a completed and signed funding agreement, to be issued upon approval to designated recipients of the award funds. The information for payees will be filled out on the form.
  • A W-9 or W-8BEN for all payment recipients (W-9 is for U.S. citizens or permanent residents; W-8BEN is for non-U.S. citizens).

This fellowship award funding will NOT be sent directly to a university or other institutions, and there are no indirect costs associated with these funds. These payments will be made to an individual or individuals and then distributed or applied to project-related expenses as decided by the lead investigators. The recipients of these awards will be solely responsible for all tax reporting and ramifications.

Please note, for award recipients who are non-U.S. citizens, the payment process may take longer and will require additional paperwork. All payments made to visa holders are submitted through the International Tax Office at the University of Colorado Boulder.


Questions?

Please contact Jennifer Tobin at haz.research.awards@colorado.edu.


Acknowledgements

The Public Health Disaster Research Award Program is based on work supported by the National Science Foundation (NSF Award #1635593) through supplemental funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of NSF, CDC, or the Natural Hazards Center.