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Stanford Research Development Office (RDO)

Partnering with Stanford researchers to enhance proposal competitiveness.

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The Stanford Research Development Office (RDO) is a unit under VPDoR that aims to strengthen collaborative or strategic research, scholarship, and creative activities by helping to set PIs up for sponsored research funding success through proposal-opportunity alignment, early preparation, and proposal development support.

Propel Grant Purpose

The Propel Grants support collaborative research teams in the final stages of developing proposals for large, complex external funding opportunities. The funded activities should enhance the competitiveness of the external proposal, increasing its likelihood of success.

The external proposal idea should be significant in scale for the discipline, either in terms of scope, budget, or team size, and applicants must explain how it goes “beyond the usual” norms in their field. The external funding opportunity budget should be substantially higher than the Propel Grant request.

For example, projects with a STEM focus that target a center-type grant, such as NSF Science and Technology Centers, DOE Energy Frontier Research Centers, NIH P50, NIH U54, or similar align well with the Propel Grants. Projects in the arts, humanities, and social sciences that target large, collaborative funding opportunities, such as NEH Collaborative Research Grants, NEA Grants for Arts Projects, and some Mellon grants would be appropriate. This list is not exhaustive.

Two levels of funding are available.

  • Up to $5,000: support for writing activities to finalize the proposal.
  • Up to $50,000: support for research activities to strengthen the proposal.

Who should apply?

Propel Grants require collaborative teams to have an established foundation for their project, with preliminary work complete (including initial pilot data collection, if applicable) and plans to apply for external funding within the next twelve months. Propel Grants do not fund team formation, earlier stages of the idea, or concept development.

3 Easy steps

1. Evaluate your research idea and readiness for this program
2. Determine which Propel Grant will enhance your proposal
3. Submit your internal application

Small Propel Grant


These Small Propel Grants support collaborative teams who are finalizing their proposal for external sponsored research funding in the next six months.

Large Propel Grant


These Large Propel Grants support collaborative teams who wish to conduct additional research activities to strengthen their proposal for an external funding opportunity in the next year.

What previous VPDoR small planning grant recipients are saying

Yuri Suzuki Headshot

"The planning grant allowed me to pay an honorarium to my red team. This allowed us to get critical feedback on our proposal before submission from experts in my field as well as DOE leadership at SLAC." Yuri Suzuki, Professor of Applied Physics


Joe DeSimone Headshot

"Our proposal involved 5 other institutions and 16 PIs. In order to coordinate all the meetings to discuss the proposal structure, coordinate writing, and especially combining all other related materials for the grant, we needed extra admin support. This made it doable and we kept organized during the submission process." Joseph DeSimone, Professor of Translational Medicine and Chemical Engineering


Jen Dionne Headshot

"This seed planning grant was an outstanding resource for team formation, topic brainstorming, and writing activities. Having financial assistance to organize team activities allowed us to bring together the team more frequently and for more meaningful interactions than otherwise would have been possible." Jen DionneAssociate Professor of Materials Science and Engineering

Contact Us

We welcome the opportunity to answer questions from potential applicants. Please contact the program manager, Jessica Boydston, at

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