At VCU, our goal is not only workforce readiness - it’s WORLD readiness. Of Virginia’s R1 institutions, VCU enrolls the highest percentage of students from the lowest economic quintile while ranking among the highest in the state at improving student social mobility (see Opportunity Insight’s Mobility Report Card). Given the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, our work has increased in both relevance and importance over the past year.
Research shows experiential learning serves as an equalizer, benefitting all students but having a particularly strong impact on the persistence, retention, and career outcomes of students from traditionally marginalized communities. Yet, these same students face the greatest obstacles and barriers in accessing the experiences that can transform their vision of their future selves.
The REAL Grants support faculty, programs, departments as they seek ways to mitigate obstacles and increase access to transformative, high impact experiential learning opportunities both in and beyond the classroom. The outcomes from these grants have the potential to not only transform the student learning experience but also transform future trajectories and re-write the narrative for many of our students.
The list of grants currently available this semester can be found below. All grants use the same online REAL grants application, and the deadline for both grants is March 15.
REAL Challenge Grants
The REAL Challenge Grants provide up to $8,000 in funding for projects that help VCU create “triple-threat candidates” - students with an internship, an extended academic project, and an industry-recognized credential along with their bachelor’s degree. (See Brandon Busteed's Forbes December 2019 op-ed for some quick insight into the “triple threat” framework.)
Proposals should advance experiential learning at VCU in at least one of the "triple-threat" areas:
- Extensive work experience through an academically-linked internship, co-op, or job
- Engagement in extended academic projects
- Significant progress towards an industry-recognized credential
Preference will also be given to proposals which address at least one of the key priorities of sustainability, visibility, or accessibility. Please review the full RFP for additional details as well as examples.
How to apply
- Review the full REAL Challenge Grant RFP
- Complete the REAL Challenge Grant worksheet: All applicants will be asked to submit this Excel worksheet along with their application form
- Complete the REAL grant application: Select "REAL Challenge Grants" when prompted for which grant you'd like your proposal to be considered for
Community-engaged Research (CEnR) Impact Grants
The CEnR Impact Grants, funded and facilitated by the Center for Community Engagement and Impact in partnership with the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP), provide a $1,500 stipend for faculty or staff to create and incorporate innovative CEnR methods and evaluation tools into pre-existing undergraduate courses or co-curricular learning experiences. These faculty enhancement grants aim to support students’ social mobility and career readiness through EXPOSURE to and/or EXPERIENCE in the high-impact educational practices (HIPs) of undergraduate and community-engaged research, while addressing issues of equity and justice in our communities. For more insight about the impact of HIPs on student retention and engagement at VCU, specifically those from diverse and underrepresented groups, read the High Impact Practices (HIPS) Assessment Model report.
How to apply
- Review the full CeNR Impact Grants RFP
- Complete the CeNR Impact Grants worksheet: All applicants will be asked to submit this Excel worksheet along with their application form
- Complete the REAL grant application: Select "Community-Engaged Research Impact Grants" when prompted for which grant you'd like your proposal to be considered for