Civic Innovation Challenge (CIVIC)

Funding Agency:
National Science Foundation

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 partners and the research community. CIVIC funds projects that pilot state-of-the-art solutions to community challenges 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. Additionally, the foundation for CIVIC projects should be rooted in maturing and transitioning state-of-the-art research in disciplines, including but not limited to computer science, engineering, geosciences, biological sciences, and social sciences.

CIVIC is uniquely designed to enable transition to practice of innovations into communities, as follows: (1) CIVIC flips the community-university dynamic, by empowering communities and researchers to jointly identify civic priorities ripe for innovation and to address these priorities as equal partners; (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 communities and civic partners 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 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. Climate and Environmental Instability - Building Resilient Communities through Co-Design, Adaption, and Mitigation
  • Track BBridging the gap between essential resources and services & community needs.

In Stage 1, approximately 35-40 Planning Grant awards will be made – each with a budget of up to $75,000 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 Stage 1 CIVIC recipients can submit to the CIVIC Stage 2 competition.

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 award recipient (2223449) MetroLab Network ( 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); Directorate for Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences (SBE); Directorate for Biological Sciences (BIO); and the Department of Energy (DOE), and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

Full Proposal Deadline Dates:

  • May 1, 2024: Stage 1
  • Feb. 10, 2025: Stage 2

Agency Website

Eligibility Requirements

Proposals may only be submitted by the following:

  • Institutions of Higher Education (IHEs) - Two- and four-year IHEs (including community colleges) accredited in, and having a campus located in the US, acting on behalf of their faculty members. Special Instructions for International Branch Campuses of US IHEs: If the proposal includes funding to be provided to an international branch campus of a US institution of higher education (including through use of subawards and consultant arrangements), the proposer must explain the benefit(s) to the project of performance at the international branch campus, and justify why the project activities cannot be performed at the US campus.
  • Non-profit, non-academic organizations: Independent museums, observatories, research laboratories, professional societies and similar organizations located in the U.S. that are directly associated with educational or research activities.

Limit on Number of Proposals per PI or Co-PI:

For Stage 1: an individual may participate as PI or co-PI in at most two proposals.

For Stage 2: an individual may participate as PI or co-PI in only one proposal.

In the event that an individual exceeds this limit, proposals received within the limit will be accepted based on earliest date and time of proposal submission. This limitation includes proposals submitted by a lead organization and any subawards included as part of a collaborative proposal involving multiple institutions. No exceptions will be made.

Amount Description

Estimated Number of Awards: 55 to 60

Approximately 35-40 Planning Grants (Stage 1) and approximately 15-20 Full Awards (Stage 2) are anticipated across the program, subject to the quality of proposals and availability of funds, which may differ for each track. Note: Only Stage 1 CIVIC recipients can submit to the CIVIC Stage 2 competition.

Anticipated Funding Amount: $22,300,000 to $25,600,000

Estimated program budget, number of awards and average award size/duration are subject to the availability of funds and quality of proposals received. Budgets for Stage 1 Planning Grants are up to $75,000 and Stage 2 Full Awards are up to $1,000,000.

Funding Type





Community Outreach and Engagement
Engineering and Physical Sciences
Environmental & Life Sciences
Social Sciences

External Deadline

May 1, 2024