Published: Feb. 14, 2018 By ,

Brian Lightfoot CBR FellowCU Engage is announcing details about the 2018-19 CBR Graduate Fellowship. The online application will be open on March 28 and will close Monday, April 23, 2018 at 5pm. You can find the application here on the CU Boulder’s Outreach and Community Engagement Awards website.

CU Boulder doctoral students who will be in their 2nd-6th years during the 2018-19 academic year are eligible to apply.

Are you a PhD student interested in learning and carrying out Community-Based Research (CBR)?

CU Engage’s Graduate Fellowship in Community-Based Research models a strategy for universities to prepare doctoral students for public scholarship. Whereas emerging scholars are often forced to make a choice – “either engage in the community or do peer-reviewed research” – this fellowship is designed to enable future scholars to build strong academic careers while working on public issues in partnership with community groups. The CBR Fellowship includes a cohort of 3-5 PhD students each academic year (depending on resources). Doctoral students from all academic departments at CU Boulder are eligible to participate. The purpose is to train a generation of scholars in the practices and principles of Community-Based Research.

What is Community-Based Research (CBR)?

The goal of CBR is to broaden who participates in the production of knowledge and to use new knowledge to raise awareness about or develop solutions to pressing public problems. Eligible projects are those where CU doctoral students collaborate with people outside of the university to formulate a research or creative project that examines an issue of public concern and leads to new ideas for policy or practice. Guided by values of equity, social justice, and broadening participation, CBR projects build capacity for the partner organization and contribute to social change.

Read about CBR Fellowship projects from 2015-16 and 2016-17, and 2017-18 which included graduate students from disciplines such as Mechanical Engineering, Ethnic Studies, Education, Computer Science, and Geography.

LEARN MORE: Read this feature story about David Pfotenhauer, a Mechanical Engineering doctoral student who was part of the 2016-17 CBR Fellows cohort. David collaborated with a community-based organization to improve air quality in Denver.

We give priority to partnerships with people or organizations working with historically marginalized communities or projects that work to promote equity. Because we want to encourage graduate students to align CBR with their academic training and traditions, we are open to a range of types of projects, ranging from natural sciences to the arts and humanities.

Funding Structure for the Fellowship

In response to feedback from past fellows, we are offering two options.

Option A: Cohort Leader

  • Equivalent of .25 Graduate Research Appointment (GRA) for two semesters (or .50 GRA for one semester): Cohort Leaders will be expected to complete administrative duties necessary for the program, such as coordinate the bi-weekly seminar (schedule, readings, guest lecturers), plan special events, and help promote the visibility of the program on campus. (Cohort Leaders may opt to take their funding as .50 GRA for one semester, but will still be required to participate in activities throughout the year).

Option B: Participant

  • Equivalent of $8,000 paid as “additional pay” at two rime points during the year (August and January), this funding would be a supplement to your .50 GRA or GPTI. Participants are expected to carry out CBR projects and participate in the activities of the Fellowship (described below). This additional pay is contingent on your own department policies for allowing additional pay. Please also note that “additional pay” is typically taxed at a higher rate than regular income.

Benefits to CBR Graduate Fellows

  • Funding (see above for the two options)

  • Professional development and training to become skilled practitioners of CBR

  • Membership in ongoing scholarly cohort community and introduction to national network of engaged scholars

  • Eligibility to apply for additional funds for materials or community partner stipends depending on project needs (up to $250 per project)

  • Mentoring and supervision from leading experts in CBR

Requirements of CBR Fellows

  • Participate in the CBR Summer Institute that introduces the Fellows to critical social theory and roots of community-based participatory research (two 4-hour sessions, with required reading, exact dates TBD) led by Ben Kirshner. Disbursement of funds is contingent on satisfactory completion of Institute.

  • Participate in in-person, bi-weekly research seminars focused on building the capacity of each Fellow to carry out high quality, ethical CBR. There will be readings for each seminar. (This means Fellows need to commit to being in Colorado during the 2018-19 academic year).

  • Satisfactory progress on the CBR project during the 2018-19 academic year, including evidence of reciprocity with the community partner(s). Satisfactory progress will depend on the stage of the project when it begins - expectations about satisfactory progress will be clarified with each Fellow at the beginning of the year.

  • Collaboratively design and implement the CBR Showcase in Spring 2019 (details to be determined by the Fellows). See photos from the 2016 showcase here.

  • Submit a scholarly paper to an academic conference or journal by Sept. 1, 2019.

CBR fellowTo Apply

Applications are due by April 23, 2019 and need to be submitted online here. The online application system will open the week of March 28.

Applications will include the following elements (letters should be uploaded to the online submission form):

  • Project title (10 words or less)

  • Curriculum Vitae

  • Project proposal (no more than 1500 words, double-spaced)

    • Abstract (250 words)

    • Rationale for the project, addressing a) what is “community-based” about the project, b) its compelling policy or practice rationale, and c) how it will contribute to your field (500 words)

    • Proposed research methodology, including planned data collection strategy that addresses how project decisions will be made collaboratively with the community partners (500 words)

    • Anticipated project significance for addressing the focal issue and scholarly contribution (250 words)

  • Personal professional narrative (250 words)

    • How does this project advance the applicant’s professional development?

  • Letter of support from community partner: letter should speak to the nature of the relationship and the importance of the project from the community partner’s perspective.

  • Letter of support from faculty advisor: letter should speak directly to how this project will advance the candidates doctoral training and what role the advisor will play in supporting the project throughout the year; advisors should verify that the student will have another 25% appointment.

Application tip: Prepare a draft of your application to upload into the online submission form so that you have a copy for your records. You can save the online version of your application as you work on it, but once you click on the “submit” button, you will no longer be able to make changes. 

Timeline for selection and disbursement of funds

  • April 23 at 5pm – Application deadline

  • May 25 – Award recipients selected

  • Summer 2018: CBR Summer Institute (dates TBD)

  • August 1, 2018 – Funds transferred to department speedtype

Vanessa Roberts CBR FellowSelection Preferences

  • Strong proposals show familiarity with the ideas and concepts of public scholarship or community-based research or participatory action research. You do not need to be an expert - but you should show understanding of core commitments. (See suggested readings at bottom of this announcement).

  • Project proposals should illustrate for the selection committee how their project reflects principles of ethical community engagement, with particular regard to:

    • participation by research partners in defining,identifying, or shaping the research question

    • evidence of an established relationship with community partner or sufficient promise of a collaborative relationship

    • questions or topics that reflect concerns for people in communities, schools, or neighborhoods facing complex public challenges

  • Project proposals should demonstrate how the project advances the applicant’s scholarly goals and interests. This means that the proposal:

    • has a strong connection to the applicant’s dissertation interests, either as pilot work or the dissertation itself

    • shows support from faculty advisor in home department

    • integrates a compelling community or public need with a compelling scholarly contribution to student’s academic field or emerging scholarly field of CBR

  • Applicants should demonstrate, either through lived experience, social identity, or professional experience, deep understanding of the communities and/or social contexts where they aim to do their work

  • Community partners must be groups whose primary membership is not employees or students of CU Boulder; these groups should be guided by missions of strengthening democracy, the resilience of communities, or the quality of public-serving institutions (such as schools). They can be located anywhere in the world.

Click here to read, print or share the flyer announcing our call for CBR Fellows Applications

CBR Project FAQs

  • Can a project be proposed in which the partner is outside of Colorado or outside of the United States?

    • Answer: We discourage projects that face logistical barriers to communication and interaction with partners. However, you are still eligible to apply, particularly if you can explain how your work will be consistent with principles of collaboration and reciprocity despite geographic distance. Also note that if you are doing fieldwork that will take you out of state for considerable amounts of time, then you will not be able to participate in the bi-weekly seminar meetings, which are required.

  • Can an applicant receive the Fellowship if data has already been collected?

    • Answer: Most quality proposals will still have data to collect or fieldwork to complete. However, if data were collected in the context of a participatory or collaborative project and applicant can describe how analysis and communication of findings will have a collaborative element, then you are encouraged to apply.

Please email Ben.Kirshner@colorado.edu with additional questions.

CBR Scholarly Resources

Aaron, KF, & O’Toole TP (2003). Community-based participatory research (Special issue). J Gen 
Intern Med 18(7):592-594. 


Hall, B.L.: From margins to center: The development and purpose of participatory action research. Am Sociologist 23:15-28, 1992. 


Israel, B. A. et al. (1998). Review of community-based research: Assessing 
partnership approaches to improve public health. Annu Rev Public Health 19:173-202.



Ansley F., & Gaventa, J.: Researching for democracy and democratizing research. Change, January- February, 1997, pp. 46-53. 


Minkler, M. (2004). Ethical challenges for the “outside” researcher in community-based participatory research. Health Education & Behavior, 31(6), 684–697. doi:10.1177/1090198104269566

Nyden, PW, Wiewel, W: Collaborative research: Harnessing the tensions between researcher and practitioner. Am Sociol 24:43-55, 1992.


Strand, K., Marullo, S., Cutforth, N., Stoecker, R., & Donohue, P. (2003). Community-based research and higher education. San Francisco: Jossey-Bass.

Tisdahl, et al. (2014). Guidelines for peer reviewing community based research. URBAN Publications Committee. Retrieved from http://urbanresearchnetwork.org

Torre, M. E., & Fine, M. (2008). Engaging youth in participatory inquiry for social justice. In M. Pollack (ed.), Everyday anti-racism: Getting real about race in school. New York: New Press.