Scholarship of engagement small grants

The Office of Community Engagement announces the availability of small grants to promote the scholarship of engagement at Calvin University. Ernest Boyer, in a seminal article in the Journal of Higher Education Outreach and Engagement (1996) wrote, “The academy must become a more vigorous partner in the search for answers to our most pressing social, civic, economic, and moral problems, and must affirm its historic commitment to what I call the scholarship of engagement.” In keeping with this challenge, the Calvin Scholarship of Engagement Fellowships are intended to support faculty to pursue academic community engagement in partnership with a community organization. These fellowships are being made available from grant funds Calvin received from the Council of Independent Colleges, the Lilly Fellows Exchange and the U.S. Dept. of HUD's Office of University Partnerships to foster stronger college-community partnerships.

Program description/purpose

These grants are to encourage Calvin faculty to focus some of our academic resources on issues of importance to the Grand Rapids community. Calvin University is embedded in a particular community with particular issues, strengths and needs. The particularities of our place create the context from which our engaged scholarship grows and thus, our scholarship of engagement must grow out of the specific and unique issues of our place, such as urban revitalization, literacy, environmental concerns, racial tension, to name a few.

Funding criteria

  • A well-developed plan for an engagement project with specific academic goals. It can be exploratory as long as the plan is well-defined.
  • Evidence of a reciprocal partnership with a community organization or community leader.
  • A clearly defined expected outcome of the project including timetable.


Calvin faculty, in partnership with a community organization or community leader, are invited to submit proposals for class projects that will contribute to the well-being of the Grand Rapids community by linking the resources of the liberal arts to the particular strengths and needs of the larger community. High priority will be placed on the development of, or on the ongoing nurture of genuine educational partnerships within our community. Interested applicants are encouraged to talk about potential ideas with the Director of Community Engagement prior to application.

Nature of grant

The grant is intended to be an incentive for faculty to form meaningful educational and/or academic partnerships with community organizations. These grants are available to support expenses related to faculty research or service projects. If you plan to undertake a community-based research project involving human subjects, don’t forget to submit your research proposal to Calvin’s Institutional Review Board (IRB) for approval. Potential uses for the Scholarship of Engagement Fellowship include:

  • Awards can be used:
    • To purchase time for project planning for both faculty member and community partner undertaking a community-based scholarly project of mutual benefit.
    • For equipment purchases in support of active learning between campus and community.
    • For attendance at a conference related to engaged scholarship for both faculty member and community partner.
    • For student assistance (research, technical, or administrative).
  • Awards will not be made to fund any of the following:
    • Projects that already have existing funding.
    • Projects that are already well-developed unless a new component is being added.
    • Membership fees for professional organizations.
    • Major equipment purchases (e.g. machines, computer software).

Application procedure

A short application is required; click here to apply.

The maximum award is $2000.00 for both faculty and community partner including project costs. Applications must be submitted from faculty member and community partner simultaneously. Applications that demonstrate sustainability for multiple semesters are given priority.


Applications are accepted at any time and will be reviewed by a committee including the Director of Community Engagement, the Dean for Instruction, the Dean for Research and Scholarship, the Director of the Service-Learning Center, the Director of Community Relations and two at-large faculty.

Required contents of application

A joint application from a faculty member and a community partner with project description, including specific plans, goals, timeline, methods, and significance of the project outlined. The description should also include a summary of the applicants’ qualifications to pursue this project.

Two letters of support:

  1. A letter from the applicant’s department chair evaluating the proposal and endorsing the applicant’s record of teaching and scholarship.
    • Include how this proposal fits within the mission or goals of the department
    • Include an endorsement of the applicant’s teaching and scholarship
    • Include your perspective on his/her ability to implement the proposal
  2. A letter from the community partner’s supervisor evaluating the proposal and endorsing the applicant’s record of employment.

Obligations after receiving an Engaged Scholars Small Grant

Grantees should continue in their positions at Calvin for at least a year after the project is initiated.

  1. A brief report on the project is required after it is completed.
  2. Presentation at an annual showcase for Calvin’s Scholarship of Engagement.
  3. Any publication that results from this work must acknowledge the support of Calvin University for the project.