Applications Open for SIREN Engagement Grants

Request for Applications

NEW: Scroll down past the RFA for additional application resources, including the video recording of our 6/6/23 Informational Session and a FAQ of questions we've received so far.

For any further questions, please email us at

Click here to download a PDF version of this RFA

Click here to download the application template


The Social Interventions Research and Evaluation Network (SIREN) was established in 2016 to conduct, catalyze, and disseminate high quality research that advances healthcare sector strategies to improve social conditions, a practice that is coming to be known as ‘social care.’ Although social care research aspires to help address racial inequities, to do so requires improving and deepening how researchers partner with individuals and communities impacted by social needs and social care interventions. Known barriers or challenges to such engagement include gaps in funding and infrastructure for forming and maintaining partnerships and lack of mentorship and coaching for researcher and community partners to participate in these efforts. To support this important work, SIREN is pleased to announce a new grant opportunity specifically focused on supporting and strengthening partnerships between social care researchers and impacted communities/individuals. This grant opportunity is supported by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation (Grant #80274).


We will provide funding to support researchers and community organizations/groups to develop, sustain, and/or expand partnerships related to social care. We hope these grants will both:

  • Increase social care researchers’ capacity to partner with community members; and
  • Increase community members’/groups’ capacity to partner with social care researchers.

Our ultimate goal is for individuals and communities impacted by social needs and social care interventions (hereafter referred to as“individuals with lived experience”) to be more deeply involved in social care research that advances racial health equity.


Eligible Applicants

The SIREN Engagement Grant is designed for social care researchers and their community partners. While either the researcher or the community partner may serve as the prime applicant, we strongly encourage a joint application with separate budgets to ensure fair compensation and distribution of funds.

By social care researchers, we mean investigators or investigator teams who conduct research studies on healthcare sector strategies to improve social conditions (see NASEM 2019 report for more detail). Investigators are eligible from the following settings:

  • Academic institution-based research faculty
  • Research arms of non-profit organizations (e.g., think tanks, foundations, community-based organizations (CBOs))

By community partners, we mean organizations or groups that engage, advocate for, or create intentional space for individuals who are impacted by social needs and social care. Some examples of eligible community partners include:

  • Social service CBOs
  • Community health centers
  • Community action or advocacy groups
  • Community, consumer, or patient advisory boards

Only applicants from the United States are eligible for this RFA.

Eligible Partnerships

Here is a non-exhaustive list of examples of partnerships that would be eligible for this grant opportunity:

  • An established partnership between:
    • Social care researchers and individuals with lived experience (e.g., patient advisory board);
    • Social care researchers and community partner that engages individuals with lived experience;
  • A new standing advisory board composed of prior lived-experience advisors on social care research
  • A new partnership between social care researchers and a community partner 

Note that the focus of this grant opportunity is the meaningful involvement of individuals and communities impacted by social needs and social care; therefore, partnerships solely between professionals or organizational representatives would not be a good fit for this opportunity.

Activities We Seek to Fund

Funded activities should promote the development, strength, and sustainability of partnerships.  While that may take many forms, here are some examples:

  • Activities to expand existing partnerships to focus on social care-related issues
  • Activities to build the capacity of social care-focused partnerships:
    • Interpretation services to engage populations with diverse primary language(s)
    • Additional trainings for researchers and community members participating in the partnership (e.g., facilitation skills, power-sharing)
    • Existing partnership participants offering training to other researcher–community partnerships
  • Activities to develop a community-driven social care-focused research agenda, set of key research questions, and/or dissemination activities

Eligible activities are not limited to these examples. All proposals should include more than one-time engagement of individuals with lived experience.

Application Instructions

Download the application package here. Send all application materials as a PDF email attachment to Applications are due no later than July 31, 2023 5pm Pacific Standard Time (PST).

Main document (3 pages single spaced text max.)

  1. Statement of purpose
    • Describe your goal(s) with the grant:
      • What is the big-picture need or gap you intend to fulfill?
      • How do you define success (i.e., what impacts do you hope your activities will ultimately have on social care research, partnerships with communities and individuals, and/or racial health equity?)
      • How will you measure success? (i.e., describe your plans to track progress.)
  2. People/Organization(s)
    • Describe the organizations and individuals involved in the application, including any relevant lived or professional expertise.
    • Describe any expertise or previous experience with community-based participatory research, patient engagement, partnering with community (if applicant is researcher), or partnership with academics (if community applicant) whether it is a part of or separate from the initiative that you hope to support through the grant.
    • Describe any prior partnership activities between the organizations and individuals involved in the application and how you hope for it to evolve with the planned activities.
  3. Planned activities
    • Describe what you are planning to do.
    • Present a proposed timeline for activities and if/how each partner will be leading/ involved in these activities.
    • Explain how the activities will lead to the impacts described in the Statement of Purpose.


Use the provided template. Requested budgets can be for up to $50k total (including indirect costs) and spent within a 24-month activity period (November 1, 2023 – October 31, 2025).  

  • Be sure to include budgets from all applying organizations.
  • If not being provided through another source, your budget should include stipends and other compensation for individuals with lived experience (you may find the Fair Market Value calculator helpful).
  • No more than 12% of funding can be for indirect (facilities and administration) costs.
  • Funding may not be used for duplicative programs or purposes.
  • Funding cannot be used for journal fees.

Budget justification (1 page single spaced text max.)

  • For each budget section, describe the costs, roles (for personnel), and how you arrived at the amount requested.   
  • Include any cost-sharing (any other institutional or organizational funds or in-kind being used to support these activities).
  • If a joint application, your descriptions should include an explanation of the way costs are distributed between applicant organizations.
  • Describe how individuals with lived experience participating in your activities will be compensated (e.g., stipends, coverage for childcare or transportation), whether in this budget or through other funding sources.


  • Please include a letter of support from any groups or individual partners that are mentioned in your application without being an applicant.

Review Criteria

We expect to fund 4-6 grant proposals, dependent upon the proposals and requested budgets received. The advisory committee (see below) will review all proposals and evaluate them based on the following criteria:

  • Scope: The individuals, organizations, and activities in the application demonstrate a clear link to 1) the experience, practice, and evaluation of social care; and 2) the advancement of health equity (especially racial health equity) in social care.
  • Meaningful engagement: The extent to which communities and individuals with lived experience are meaningfully integrated into the project, including the sharing of power, decision-making authority, equitable compensation, and co-development.
  • Benefit: The extent to which the project will benefit all members of the partnership, both during the proposed activities but also potentially beyond the project period.
  • Impact: The extent to which desired impacts are relevant, clearly defined, and linked to planned activities.

While not a formal review criterion, we ask that you use as little jargon as possible and explain any acronyms you use in your application.

Advisory Committee

Benjamín Aceves, San Diego State University
Rebekah Angove, Patient Advocate Foundation
Sa’Brina Davis, Patient advisor
Tia Francis, Patient advisor
Njeri Grevious, Patient advisor
Nancy Pandhi, University of New Mexico
Carley Riley, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital/University of Cincinnati
Janice Tufte, Patient advisor
Eric Wat, Independent consultant
Neely Williams, Patient advisor

Application Resources

6/6/23 Informational Session Recording

Session slide deck [PDF]


Q: How do I include references?
A: We recommend you hyperlink to references directly from the relevant text in your main application (much as we do below in this FAQ). That way, reviewers can more easily access references without them taking up extra space in your application.

Q: Is the indirect rate 12% or 10%? I see both numbers.
A: 12%. Apologies, there was a typo in the original application template budget under Organization 2. We've uploaded a corrected application template.

Q: Can you give examples of social care related issues?
A: If you are unsure of what is encompassed in “social care”, we encourage you to read Chapter 4 of the NASEM Committee consensus report on integrating social care into the delivery of health care.

Q: Are applicants outside of the United States eligible?
A: No, this particular grant opportunity is only open to applicants and activities within the United States.

Q: Are social care researchers working at a federally qualified health center eligible?
A: Yes, as long as your application includes ongoing engagement with individuals with lived experience, either directly with your patient population or in partnership with another organization.

Q: Does a national organization with local "chapters" count as a partner organization that can participate?
A: Yes, we are open to applications from national organizations or local chapters, provided your planned activities are aligned with the goals of this RFA.

Q: Our research-based nonprofit was interested in using this grant to help develop a community advisory board to transcend our various projects and research. Since we're in such preliminary stages in incorporating 'lived experience', are we ineligible?
A: New partnerships are eligible. Among the grantees, we hope to have organizations at different stages of partnership for greater mutual learning and support.

Q: Are vendors or consultants working with CBOs or other nonprofits eligible? Would they be considered a subcontractor? Further, if one of those eligible applicants must be the prime, would it disqualify them of our firm was one of the subs on the application?
A: This grant is primarily designed for social care researchers and community partners. While either of those eligible applicants may include the services of vendors or consultants in their budget, Sections 2 and 3 of the main document, as well as the budget justification, should demonstrate the necessity of such services for accomplishing the planned activities and facilitating the desired impacts of the activities.

Q: Who might we contact to determine specific eligibility in other instances?
A: Please email us at

Q: Would prior collaboration on a grant count as an established partnership?
A: Yes, and we encourage you to describe this prior collaboration in your application.

Q: Can our lived experience population include those with both professional social care experience and lived experience?
A: Yes, individuals having both kinds of experiences could be valuable to engage. Note that our focus is on lived experience.

Q: Who takes care of IRB related needs?
A: As a partnership grant and not a research grant, most potential activities will not require IRB at many organizations. If your activities require IRB needs, that should be reviewed by one of the applicant organization IRBs or funds included in the budget for an external IRB as needed.

Q: Are the persons with lived experience considered research subjects for IRB?
A: As this is a partnership grant and not a research grant, individuals with lived experience should not be human subjects research participants in the grant activities.

Q: If we have persons with lived experience contributing to the research design and implementation, is it okay if other persons with lived experience are the recipients of the intervention and would be considered human subjects in terms of IRB?
A: Yes. If you engage in human subjects research as an outcome of the partnership, your research activities are subject to all of the usual human subject research regulations, including IRB.

Q: Could a single organization submit multiple proposals and receive multiple awards?
A: A single organization can submit multiple proposals, but given the small number (4-6) awards, we believe it will be highly unlikely for a single organization to receive multiple awards.

Q: Can you expand more or provide examples on "Activities to develop a community-driven social care-focused research agenda, set of key research questions, and/or dissemination activities"?
A: Here are just a few examples: human centered design processes such as journey mapping, community needs assessment-style activities focused on social needs and community resources, or prioritization workshops on research questions. We are very open to other activities that would achieve the objectives.

Q: Are stipends for individuals with lived experience that are cash/check allowed and who would administer that? (E.g. as opposed to gift cards)
A: Stipends will be administered by the applicant organization and can be in whatever form that is most efficient and equitable in the applicant’s context.

Q: How much should I pay individuals with lived experience?
A: Compensation should be respectful of the time needed for their engagement in meetings and any work or preparation between meetings. You may find the National Health Council’s Fair-Market Value Calculator a helpful resource. In addition to monetary compensation, consider support for barriers individuals with lived experience may face to participating (e.g., childcare, transportation).

Q: Should this be presented as a pilot study so that we include plans for seeking further funding as part of the impact?
A: We do consider this grant opportunity to be a stepping stone to more lived-experience-engaged social care research, so we welcome applicants to mention how they envision building on the activities to sustain their impact. Note, however, that this is a partnership grant, rather than a research grant, so while we expect grantees to learn and share learnings, this opportunity is not designed for the conduct of a study.

Q: Is this a one-time RFA?
A: Right now it is only a one-time opportunity. However, given the high interest, we are very much hoping to bring this interest to funders to seek funding for another RFA in the future.