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Propel Grants Purpose and Priorities

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The Propel Grants support collaborative 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.

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.


Priority is given to teams with Stanford as the lead institution for the external funding opportunity. Applications are particularly encouraged for, but not limited to, projects that do one or more of the following:

  • Demonstrate faculty partnerships across two or more schools at Stanford.
  • Include team members from diverse backgrounds, including those underrepresented in the academy (e.g., ethnic, cultural, or socioeconomic backgrounds, research expertise, career stage, institution/sector, disability, gender identity, sexual orientation, etc.).
  • Engage disciplines or fields that have limited internal grant program support.
  • Strengthen collaboration between Stanford and SLAC.

VPDoR is committed to creating an environment that values and embraces diversity; applications from individuals from minoritized communities are particularly encouraged. RDO will award a portfolio of Propel Grants that represent the diversity and breadth of scholarly areas at Stanford.