Research Grants » RFP

THE CENTER FOR RURAL PENNSYLVANIA
2019 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 2019 grant cycle, the maximum allowable grant award is $50,000 per project.

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

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

Grant Application Process

 The Center’s 2019 Research Grant Program application process is as follows:

  1. Request for Proposals is released. April 2018
  2. Deadline for submission of Letters of Intent. May 21, 2018
  3. Letters of Intent are reviewed and selected applicants are invited to submit a full proposal. June 2018
  4. Proposal planning discussions are conducted with applicants. July-August 2018
  5. Deadline for full proposal submissions. August 27, 2018
  6. Center’s Board of Directors selects projects for funding. December 2018
  7. Final work plans are negotiated and accepted. December 2018
  8. Cooperative Agreements are issued and work begins January 2019

TARGETED RESEARCH GRANT TOPICS FOR THE 2019 GRANT PROGRAM

Examination of Employment and Housing Barriers and Opportunities for Rural Pennsylvanians with Felony Convictions
A Kaiser Foundation study reported that 34 percent of those convicted of felonies, some due to crimes related to a substance abuse disorder, have difficulty finding employment and housing upon release from incarceration. This research will examine this issue to quantify the number of rural Pennsylvanians in this situation and identify barriers and opportunities for housing and employment for rural residents with felony convictions.

Key Expected Outcomes:

The Role of Rural Public Libraries in Providing Access to Online Government Services
As local, state and federal governments provide an increasing number of information services to residents online, those without access to a home computer and/or high-speed internet may find the local public library as their online access point for government services. This research will assess the capabilities and limitations of rural public libraries and library staff in assisting residents in accessing government services in the digital age.

Key Expected Outcomes:

Economic Impact of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) in Pennsylvania’s Deer Population
Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD), which affects the brain and nervous system of infected deer and eventually results in death, was first detected in Pennsylvania in 2012. There is growing concern about the impact of this disease on Pennsylvania’s deer hunting and deer farming industries. This research will ascertain the economic impact of the current and projected presence of CWD on Pennsylvania’s deer population and the businesses that rely upon it.

Key Expected Outcomes:

Attitudinal Survey of Rural Pennsylvanians
In 2008, the Center for Rural Pennsylvania funded an attitudinal survey of rural Pennsylvanians to identify views on issues such as current conditions in their community, the future of their community, and any role state government should have in improving their lives and communities. This research will again survey rural Pennsylvanians’ attitudes on rural issues, making comparisons to the previous survey where appropriate, but also adding questions about current issues.

Key Expected Outcomes:

Examination of Free Community College Tuition
The subject of free tuition in American higher education continues to gain attention across the nation. In Pennsylvania, in 2002, Lehigh Carbon Community College was a leader in providing free tuition to recent graduates of Tamaqua Area High School. Free tuition programs vary by funding sources (public or private) and eligibility (statewide or limited to education for high-demand fields, etc.). This research will examine the economic and educational impact of both limited and statewide free tuition programs.

Key Expected Outcomes:

Assessment of Computer Security for Pennsylvania Municipalities – An Update
Ten years ago, the Center for Rural Pennsylvania published research examining the information systems security readiness of municipal governments in Pennsylvania. Since that time, technology, and the ways in which municipal governments use it, has changed considerably. The possibility of vulnerability to cybercrime also has increased. This research will examine municipal information systems infrastructure, security measures, and daily information technology practices of Pennsylvania municipal governments.

Key Expected Outcomes:

Options for Transportation Models to Serve Rural Communities
Many rural residents do not have access to public transportation, making other transportation options a necessity for employment, health care services, shopping, and other activities. In some communities, ride-hailing services have helped to fill this need, while in other communities, private or non-profit organizations have developed models for transportation. This research will explore public, private and nonprofit transportation models in rural communities and determine their feasibility for implementation 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 can economically benefit 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 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. Where service is available, affordability can be an issue. Without access or affordable rates, rural communities have limited opportunities for new and expanded business development, education and entertainment. 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 accessing affordable services statewide.

Key Expected Outcomes:

OPEN TOPICS FOR THE 2019 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 2019 GRANT PROGRAM

Analysis of the Change in the Number and Type of Small Businesses in Pennsylvania Over the Past 15 Years
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the number of businesses with fewer than five employees has declined 8 percent in rural Pennsylvania over a 10-year period. During the same 10-year period, the number of urban small businesses declined only 2 percent. Using multiple data sources, this research will profile small businesses in rural and urban Pennsylvania and identify trends and patterns in changes in business types and numbers.

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 socioeconomic (income, race, crime, etc.) 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 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:

Availability of Hospice and Palliative Care in Rural Pennsylvania
Hospice and palliative care are 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. This research will determine the types of hospice care available in rural Pennsylvania and identify any unmet needs or service gaps for hospice and palliative 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 (20-64 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 specific rural industries, and identify programs or efforts that have been successful in sustaining a viable rural 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, helps revitalize downtowns, and creates 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 2019 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.

2019 Request for Proposals (pdf)