Research Grants » RFP

Please note: The Letter of Intent submission deadline was May 22, 2017. Applicants whose Letters of Intent are approved for full proposal submission will receive additional information and instructions on full proposal preparation, submission and review procedures.

2018 REQUEST FOR PROPOSALS

The Center for Rural Pennsylvania is a bipartisan, bicameral legislative agency that serves as a resource for rural policy research within the Pennsylvania General Assembly. The Center’s mission is to promote and sustain the vitality of the state’s rural and small communities by:

As part of the Center’s yearly Research Grant Program, the Board of Directors approves topics for research projects. All projects must show a clear relationship to one or more of the Center’s mandated research areas, which are:

Eligibility
The Center’s enabling legislation allows the Center to award grants to qualified faculty members of Pennsylvania State University, the Pennsylvania State System of Higher Education (PASSHE) universities, and the regional campuses of the University of Pittsburgh. A qualified faculty member must serve as the project director. Partnerships with other academic institutions, community organizations, and public and private agencies are encouraged.

Research Grant Program
One-year grants are awarded to conduct applied policy research or to identify local strategies that can result in legislative or program policy considerations or recommendations. For the 2018 grant cycle, the maximum allowable grant award is $50,000 per project.

Targeted Topics
This year the Board of Directors has approved 11 targeted topics. The list of topics is listed below.

Open Topics
Other reasonable and beneficial projects that address one or more of the Center’s mandated research areas (see above) will be considered by the Center under the Open Topics category.

Mini Grant Program
Mini Grants are awarded to projects that focus on basic data collection and analysis, time-sensitive issues, and/or the preparation of reference materials. Projects supported as Mini Grants are a maximum of nine months in duration and are eligible for a maximum of $15,000 in Center support.

Targeted Topics
This year the Board of Directors has approved seven Mini Grant targeted topics. The list of topics is listed below.

Open Topics
Open topics will also be accepted for Mini Grants.

Grant Application Process
The Center's 2018 Research Grant Program application process is as follows:
1. Request for Proposals is released. April 2017
2. Deadline for submission of Letters of Intent. May 22, 2017
3. Letters of Intent are reviewed and selected applicants are invited to submit a full proposal. June 2017
4. Proposal planning discussions are conducted with applicants. July-August 2017
5. Deadline for full proposal submission. August 28, 2017
6. Center's Board of Directors selects projects for funding. December 2017
7. Final work plans are negotiated and accepted. December 2017
8. Cooperative Agreements are issued and work begins. January 2018

TARGETED RESEARCH GRANT TOPICS FOR THE 2018 GRANT PROGRAM

Assessment of Computer Security for Pennsylvania Municipalities – An Update
In 2009, the Center for Rural Pennsylvania published research that examined the information systems security readiness of municipal governments in Pennsylvania. The results of the 2009 study pointed to areas of weakness in infrastructure, computer literacy, and daily practices of Pennsylvania’s municipalities and municipal staff. This research will update the 2009 research by again examining information systems infrastructure, computer literacy, and daily practices of municipal governments.

Key Expected Outcomes:

Analysis of K-12 Teacher Demand and Supply in Pennsylvania
From 2010 to 2015, the number of public school classroom teachers in Pennsylvania declined by 10 percent, a higher rate than the 7 percent decline in school enrollment over the same period. During the same period, the number of college students in Pennsylvania graduating with a bachelor’s degree in education declined by 21 percent and many school districts are experiencing substitute teacher shortages. This research will examine the teacher pipeline in Pennsylvania from college degree to practice and determine any regional or subject matter (special education, mathematics, etc.) gaps that exist between the supply and demand for public school teachers in Pennsylvania.

Key Expected Outcomes:

The Role of Foreign-Born Residents in Pennsylvania’s Economy
Foreign-born residents make up 8 percent of the workforce in Pennsylvania and work in industries such as health care, manufacturing, and agriculture; other foreign-born residents are business owners. This research will examine the economic contribution (employment, income, business ownership, etc.) of foreign-born residents in rural and urban Pennsylvania.

Key Expected Outcomes:

Options for Ride-Hailing Models to Serve Rural Communities
Many rural residents do not have access to public transportation, making other transportation options a necessity for trips to work, health care services, shopping and other activities. Ride-hailing services, such as Uber and Lyft, have filled this gap in urban communities, but have not penetrated the rural market in most communities. This research will explore public, private and nonprofit models of ride-hailing services and determine their feasibility for implementation in rural Pennsylvania.

Key Expected Outcomes:

Evaluation of Senior Community Centers in Rural and Urban Pennsylvania
Pennsylvania has over 500 senior community centers funded by the Area Agencies on Aging and charged with providing meals, social activities, and other services to Pennsylvania’s older residents. This research will examine the locations, programs, and activities of senior centers in Pennsylvania to determine how they are meeting current needs of older Pennsylvanians and preparing for the future.

Key Expected Outcomes:

Status of Dental Care for Pennsylvania’s Low-Income Children
School children in Pennsylvania are required to have dental screenings either in school or through a private dentist. After screening, many children are referred for follow-up examinations or treatment.
With a limited supply of dentists in rural areas and an even more limited number who access public dental insurance, some children may go without treatment. This research will examine dental care status and trends for Pennsylvania’s rural and urban school children and determine any gaps in access and availability.

Key Expected Outcomes:

Development of a Rapid Response Policy and Protocol for Invasive Species in Pennsylvania
A non-native invasive species is that which is not indigenous to the ecosystem under consideration and whose introduction causes or is likely to cause harm to the economy, the environment, and human health. This research will develop an invasive species rapid response policy for Pennsylvania that will include a protocol for immediately addressing potential threats, identifying possible funding mechanisms, and developing a communications plan to alert stakeholders, with the goal of promoting timely decision making and communication in the event of new invasive species infestations.

Key Expected Outcomes:

Assessment of Rural Arts Councils and Organizations
Rural communities are looking for ways to attract new residents and keep their population base. Arts organizations can play an important role in helping a community to sustain a high quality of life that is attractive to residents and newcomers, as well as providing a boost to economic development and tourism. In rural Pennsylvania, there are more than 375 arts councils and organizations providing services to rural communities. This research will provide a baseline assessment of the capacity, sustainability and programming of arts councils and organizations in rural Pennsylvania.

Key Expected Outcomes:

Analysis of Pennsylvania’s Rural Community College Campuses
Many of Pennsylvania’s 14 community colleges have campuses located in rural communities. The physical location of these campuses may have an economic impact in the communities in which they are located. This research will examine those community college campuses located in rural Pennsylvania to determine their economic and investment impact.

Key Expected Outcomes:

Analysis of Availability and Access to High-Speed Broadband in Rural Pennsylvania
Fixed, high-speed broadband services (25Mbps/3Mbps) are readily available and reasonably priced in many parts of Pennsylvania, enabling opportunities for business development, education and entertainment to be close at hand. This, however, is not the case in parts of rural Pennsylvania. This research will document the gaps in high-speed broadband access in Pennsylvania and identify barriers and opportunities to providing their services statewide.

Key Expected Outcomes:

Analysis of the Demand for Fixed High-Speed (25Mbps/3Mbps) Broadband Services in
Rural Pennsylvania
Not all areas in rural Pennsylvania have access to high-speed broadband services (25Mbps/3Mbps). Where service is available, affordability can be an issue. Without access to affordable broadband, opportunities for new business development, education and entertainment can be limited. This research will identify the demand and the willingness-to-pay for high-speed broadband for businesses and residents in areas where it is limited or not available, and identify barriers and opportunities to providing affordable service statewide.

Key Expected Outcomes:

OPEN TOPICS FOR THE 2018 RESEARCH GRANT PROGRAM

In addition to the targeted topics, other reasonable and potentially beneficial projects will be considered by the Center for Rural Pennsylvania under the Open Topics category. Proposed projects for this category must show a clear relationship to one or more of the Center’s mandated research areas listed above. Application procedures for proposed open topic projects must follow the Letter of Intent guidelines listed above. Open topic projects must define specific key outcomes and specific policy implications that will benefit communities in rural Pennsylvania.

TARGETED MINI GRANT TOPICS FOR THE 2018 GRANT PROGRAM

Analysis of Medical Assistance Mental Health Services in Pennsylvania
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, nearly 500,000 Pennsylvanians are living with serious mental illness. This research will analyze Medical Assistance county mental health (MH) services data, collected by the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services, to determine the number and characteristics of consumers of mental health services, the types of services provided, expenditure patterns over time, and differences between rural and urban areas.

Key Expected Outcomes:

Analysis of Expenditures and Participation in Public School Sports
Public school districts in Pennsylvania are required to annually submit information regarding interscholastic athletic opportunities for both male and female students. Using data collected by the Pennsylvania Department of Education, this research will analyze interscholastic athletic participation and expenditure data for Pennsylvania school districts and their relationship to socio-economic and school district level indicators (PSSA scores, free and reduced school lunch, etc.).

Key Expected Outcomes:

Assessment of the State Office Downtown Location Law
The Pennsylvania Downtown Location Law (Act 32, amended) encourages the Department of General Services (DGS) to locate state offices in a downtown area as a means of providing support for business districts and community revitalization. This research will assess the implementation of this law to determine the level of compliance with this act.

Key Expected Outcomes:

Analysis of Obesity Rates for School Children in Pennsylvania
Tracking rates of childhood obesity is important as obese children can have higher rates of high blood pressure, diabetes and other health problems that impact their quality of life, even into adulthood. The Pennsylvania Department of Health measures obesity rates of children at the elementary and secondary levels for all public school districts. This research will analyze school district data to identify rates of and trends in childhood obesity as well as any relationships to socioeconomic and school-district-level indicators (PSSA scores, free and reduced school lunch, etc.).

Key Expected Outcomes:

Availability of Hospice and Palliative Care in Rural Pennsylvania
Hospice and palliative care are generally provided for patients with a life expectancy of six months or less and may include pain relief and nursing care, emotional support, and help with everyday tasks. In 2013, an estimated 1.5 million patients received hospice care nationwide. This research will determine the distribution and types of hospice care services provided to rural Pennsylvanians and identify any unmet needs or service gaps for this type of health care.

Key Expected Outcomes:

Examination of the Impact of Population Change on Workforce Sustainability: What’s
Working?
Pennsylvania population projections show that from 2010 to 2040, the number of working age rural residents (20 to 64 years old) will decline 7 percent. This decline may prove to be challenging for businesses in rural areas. This research will examine the effect of population change on workforce availability and identify rural success stories in sustaining a viable workforce.

Key Expected Outcomes:

Examination of the City Revitalization and Impact Zone (CRIZ) Implementation
Enacted in 2013, the City Revitalization and Impact Zone (CRIZ) provides opportunity to spur new economic growth, help revitalize downtowns and create jobs for residents through the development of vacant, desolate, underused or abandoned properties. This research will provide a baseline study of municipalities that have established a CRIZ to determine community and economic impact as provided through the enabling legislation.

Key Expected Outcomes:

OPEN TOPICS FOR THE 2018 MINI GRANT PROGRAM

Open topics will also be accepted for the Mini Grant Program. Proposed Mini Grant topics for this category should focus on basic data collection and analysis, time-sensitive issues and/or the preparation of reference materials. Mini Grant projects are to be a maximum of nine months in duration. Proposed Mini Grant projects must show a clear relationship to one or more of the Center’s mandated research areas listed above. Application procedures for proposed open Mini Grant projects must follow the Letter of Intent guidelines listed above.

2018 Request for Proposals (pdf)