Published: Feb. 28, 2020

CBR Fellows applicationUPDATE (4/19/20): CU Engage has made the difficult decision to suspend our call for proposals for the Graduate Fellowship in Community-Based Research. The current May 15 deadline is postponed. This decision is due to the COVID-19-related budget uncertainty on campus and our need to be cautious about funding commitments for next year. We apologize to those who have already started conversations with community partners or are writing proposals. Please know we hope to issue the RFP in Fall for funding and fellowship programming in Spring 2021; this will depend on the budget situation in August 2020. Don’t hesitate to email with questions. WE will post updates in August about whether there will be a Fall request for proposals. Thank you for your interest in community-based research, and please know we intend to resume the CBR fellowship program in the future.

For future reference, information about the fellowship is listed below. 

Are you a PhD or MFA 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 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 budget resources). Doctoral students from all academic departments at CU Boulder are eligible to participate. The purpose is for emerging scholars to practice and develop expertise in Community-Based Research through their participation in a supportive cohort.

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 should build capacity for the partner organization and contribute to social change.

Read about CBR Fellowship projects from 2015-162016-17 and 2018-19, which included graduate students from disciplines such as Mechanical Engineering, Ethnic Studies, Education, Computer Science, and Geography.

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 Fellowship

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

Option A: Cohort Organizer

  • Equivalent of .25 Graduate Research Appointment (GRA) for two semesters (or .50 GRA for one semester): Cohort Organizers are 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: Cohort Participant

  • Equivalent of $8,000 paid out during the year, this funding would be a supplement to your .50 GRA or GPTI. There are no tuition credits or health benefits connected to this award. Participants are expected to carry out CBR projects and participate in all of the activities of the Fellowship (described below). This pay is contingent on your own department policies for allowing this pre doc trainee fellowship. Those selecting this option are not eligible for overload GRA appointments (.625).

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)​

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). 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 most seminars. (This means Fellows need to commit to being in Colorado during the academic year).

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

  • Complete a scholarly paper of 3000-5000 words to be published on the CU Engage website by May 31, 2021. Your paper should be an interim or draft version of a paper that you plan to submit to a journal or conference. It can focus on any aspect of your project. You will receive guidance and feedback along the way.

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.

CBR Interdisciplinary Scholarly Resources 

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

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

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.

Nyden, PW, Wiewel, W: Collaborative research: Harnessing the tensions between researcher and practitioner. Am Sociolist 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

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.

Listen, below, to our CBR Fellows edition of CU Engage's AMPLIFY podcast, where CU Boulder doctoral student Brian Lightfoot talks about his research and partnership work with the organization Pathways2Teaching.

Read here about 2016-17 CBR Fellow, Engineering doctoral student David Pfotenhauer, and his work with the organization Taking Neighborhood Health to Heart to improve air quality in Denver communities.