Community Engaged Sponsored Programs

Community engaged research brings researchers, scholars and members of the community together to share their knowledge, skills and resources with a common goal of improving the community we all share. The below outlines the process developing a community engaged project (e.g. identifying partners and roles, finding funding, proposal development). Detailed explanation of some of the terms can be found at the bottom of this page. 

If you are an outside organization partnering or looking to partner with someone at Marquette University, please visit our webpage, Partnering with Marquette on a Grant Proposal. 

If you are a Marquette faculty or staff member, see below for some questions for the team to consider in developing your partnership, project and proposal: 

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 What is community engaged research? 

Community engaged research is “the process of working collaboratively with and through groups of people affiliated by geographic proximity, special interest, or similar situations to address issues affecting the well-being of those people (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1997, p.9).” Community engaged research differs from traditional research where the researcher initiates the research question and develops the study design with little or no community input. In community engaged research, the community plays a role in defining the relevant research questions and a community member or organization may approach the university to collaborate on exploring the research topic. Frequently, however, it is a university faculty member or other outside researcher who wishes to initiate a partnership and involves the community. The degree to which the community becomes involved in community engaged research can vary greatly between partnerships.  

Characteristics of Community Engaged Research: 

  • All involved provide direction and input into each phase of the project, from concept development to implementation and dissemination.   
  • Research findings and knowledge learned benefits all partners involved.   
  • Researchers and community members recognize each other’s expertise.   
  • Trust, collaboration and shared decision-making are integral parts of the process. Partners should commit to working towards a long-term, sustainable relationship.     

Do you have a partner or are you looking for one? 

If you need help identifying a partner, please contact the Kelsey Otero, Senior Director of Community Engagement as a first step. 

If you have a partner, it will be helpful to talk at a high level about your shared interests and what each partner hopes to get out of the project. Be sure to review the key considerations listed below. Even if you have a community partner, it may be very helpful to reach out to Kelsey Otero, Senior Director of Community Engagement at this point to help you navigate the process. 

Have you identified an opportunity for Funding? 

  • When looking for funding, it’s important to understand the expectations of the funder in terms of the level of engagement with the community. Is the funder looking for engagement from the very beginning of project inception? Does the partner need to be the submitting organization? 
  • Visit ORSP’s Finding Funding webpage. There you will find additional information about finding funding as well as further instructions on using Pivot, the international funding database Marquette subscribes to. 
  • When considering potential funders, it's recommended to share guidelines with the community partner right from the start.  
  • Contact ORSP Project Planning and Development with any questions about finding funding or about any potential funders you are considering.  

How do we verify the identified funding opportunities are appropriate and feasible? 

  • Community partner must discuss the project and potential proposal submission within their own organization, including senior management that would be approving the institution’s inclusion in a grant proposal.   
  • Either partner may have certain sponsors that already give to specified projects and may not want to have another project submitted to that particular sponsor. Contact ORSP Project Planning and Development prior to reaching out to a sponsor. There may be limitations to the number of applications that can be submitted or other projects already being discussed with that funder. ORSP helps coordinate these matters and the overall application process. 

Who will the applicant be and why is this important? 

  • Determine who is eligible (university and/or partner) per the sponsor’s guidelines. If either could be eligible, who would be overseeing the majority of the work (requesting the majority of the overall funds)? Who has the infrastructure in place to receive and administer the funds? 
  • If determined that the community partner is the applicant go to Partnering with Marquette University webpage , otherwise, contact ORSP Project Planning and Development to begin the proposal development process, and see additional information below.    

What is the process for Proposal Development? 

  • If you have identified a potential funding source, contact ORSP Project Planning and Development to discuss your project and submission plans. 
  • Visit ORSP’s Developing a Proposal webpage. There you will find additional information about the steps involved with developing and submitting a proposal.  
  • If money will be going to your community partner’s institution, a subaward will be needed. Below are the documents required by the university when a proposal includes a subaward (passing money to another organization).  ORSP has samples and templates available if needed.   
    • Institutional Letter of Intent (LOI) signed by an authorized representative (sample document can be found here). This is different than a Letter of Support, which would come directly from your collaborator to further identify their role and expertise within the project.
    • Scope of work
    • Budget 
    • Budget justification/narrative
    • Note: Other documents may be needed per the funding opportunity instructions or the partnering organization itself. 
  • Confirm your community partner is familiar with any registration requirements of the sponsor. For example, the National Science Foundation (NSF), which requires all organizations being named on a funding proposal be registered in their system and have other required documents submitted. These documents can include resumes and pending support information entered into SciENcv, that requires forethought. See the Partnering with Marquette on a Grant Proposal webpage for more information. 
  • Pre-proposal contact is a good opportunity to share the general idea and objectives with a potential funder and ask whether the project would be competitive in their review process. Coordinate with ORSP Project Planning and Development to help you prepare for that.  
  • As with any proposal, it is critical to read and follow the sponsor’s guidelines.  Be sure all partners do as well.   
  • All proposals MUST be approved in Kuali prior to submission to a sponsor.   

Key Considerations - Items to discuss with community partners at the beginning of the project development process 


Talk with the community partner and together determine what the scope of work will be. This should be written out so it is clear to all parties. At this stage you will want to talk about what you hope to achieve, and why it is important. What is the impact of your project? How will the community be different as a result? 

It is also important to understand what is expected of each organization.  For any organization that we are passing money to, we will need a clear picture of the work expected of that organization. This information is usually written into the agreement signed by both parties at the time of award.   


How much time is needed to develop the project? Have you received  feedback from appropriate stakeholders? Relationship building can take time but is a worthy and necessary investment.  

How much time is needed to conduct the project? 

When seeking funding, it’s important to make sure the funder's deadline and maximum project duration fit within your parameters.   

ORSP can work with you to develop a timeline for the project and the overall application process. 


Each organization will need to develop their own budget. Once the scope of work is developed, ORSP can help with the MU portion of the budget and the community partner must develop their portion of the budget. In the end, Marquette will integrate them into a cumulative budget to be submitted to the sponsor. Each budget must be itemized out according to the sponsor guidelines and include a justification.   

At the time of award, a subaward agreement will be developed using the budget and scope of work provided by the partner organization.   

Depending on the nature of the services involved, in some cases a subcontract may be more appropriate than a subaward. Your contact in ORSP can help make this determination. 


Who will have access to the data?   

What rights will parties have in case there are disputes about the use of the results?   

Does the funder require the data to be made public or to be shared with other researchers?   


How will we share the findings from our research?  

How will authorship be determined? 

Who will be required to review articles or presentations before they are submitted/presented?  

How will we control or handle any impact the results may have on our community?  

How will we share in recognition from research findings (awards, invitations to speaking events, etc.)? How will we ensure that findings are shared in community venues not only scientific academic venues (academic conferences and journals)?  

How will we ensure that findings are written in community-friendly language?  


How can we consider sustainability from the beginning?  

If this program or intervention is found to be successful, how will it be sustained?   


If a conflict arises, what strategies will we use to handle these conflicts?  

What non-project staff might you want to include in a resolution discussion?