Frequently Asked Questions

General Questions

What is the UC Climate Action Research Initiative 2022?

The California State Budget Act of 2022-23 allocated $100 million to the University of California to invest in research that will have a swift and measurable impact on climate resilience. These funds will be used to provide funding for action-oriented solutions to address California’s climate goals and needs, ensure that local communities are prepared and resilient, and prevent future disasters. The Legislative language of AB 179 (SEC 172.48) is available in FAQ #13.

How will the UC Climate Action Research Initiative funds be allocated?

Funding will be awarded in three categories. Each of the funding categories will have proposal requirements specific to that award type, as described in the associated Request for Proposals (RFPs).

The three categories are:
UC Climate Action Innovation & Entrepreneurship (I&E) Awards – I&E proposals will be solicited through a limited submission process from each of the eligible UC locations. Awards will be for a maximum amount of up to one million dollars ($1M) to accelerate climate resilience-related innovations and entrepreneurial activities. Eligible locations include the ten UC campuses, systemwide Agriculture and Natural Resources (ANR), systemwide UC Health, the UC Natural Reserve System, and UC-managed National Laboratories. Individual Principal Investigators are not eligible to apply, but may contact their eligible home institution Office of Research for information on how to participate in those opportunities.

UC Climate Action Seed Awards – These awards are intended for collaborative research teams led by a
Principal Investigator from the UC system, California State University system, or a California private college or university. Teams can apply for awards of five hundred thousand ($500k) to two million dollars ($2M) to advance high-impact applied research into climate adaptation/mitigation/resilience. Proposals must describe a specific plan for leveraging this award to secure additional funding during or immediately after the term of the grant. Proposals must address California climate action priorities; include plans for engaging community, industry, labor, academic and/or local and state agency partners; and leverage existing expertise, resources, and/or infrastructure to address climate action. Proposed research should result in actionable outcomes within one to three years. Please see the Request for Proposals for more information.

UC Climate Action Matching Grants – These awards are intended for collaborative research teams led by a Principal Investigator from the UC system, California State University system, or a California private college or university. Teams can apply for awards of two million ($2M) to ten million dollars ($10M) to advance high-impact applied research into climate adaptation/mitigation/resilience.  Proposals must address California climate action priorities; must include matching funds from extramural (non-UC) sources; include plans for engaging community, industry, labor, academic and/or local and state agency partners; and leverage existing expertise, resources, and/or infrastructure to address climate action.  Proposed research should result in actionable outcomes within one to three years. Please see the Request for Proposals for more information.

What is the legislative language regarding UC Climate Action Funds? (Updated 3/9/23)

Please see AB179—Amended State Budget Act regarding the UC Climate Action Funds.

I submitted a question and haven’t received a response. When will I receive a response to my question? (Added 3/14/23)

Due to the volume of LOIs invited to full proposal, we are not able to respond to individual questions. We are reading your questions and updating the FAQs, as needed. In addition to checking the FAQs for updates, please make sure you have thoroughly read the RFP and all SmartSimple instructions. Questions clearly addressed in the RFP, existing FAQs, or other documentation will not be included in FAQ updates. We also encourage you to work with your Office of Sponsored Projects or other relevant office to prepare your application for submission.

LOI and Proposal Submission and Application Guidelines

What is the timeline for applying for these awards? (Updated 5/26/23)

UC Climate Action Innovation & Entrepreneurship Awards are being awarded through a limited submission process coordinated through the UC Vice Chancellors for Research, Vice President for Agriculture and Natural Resources, Executive Vice President for UC Health, Deputy Directors of the UC-managed National Laboratories, and Executive Director for the Natural Reserve System. These awards were made in the Spring of 2023. To find out more about these awards, please see: “UC announces $15M in climate-focused innovation awards.”

UC Climate Action Seed Awards and UC Climate Action Matching Grants were solicited in response to a Request for Proposals (RFP) issued in December 2022. Key deadlines for these grants are below.

Letter of Intent due date
Thursday, January 19, 2023, at noon Pacific Time.

LOI due date
Thursday, January 19, 2023, at noon Pacific Time.
The deadline for the required Letter of Intent has passed.

LOI notification date
February 9, 2023

Full Application Deadline
Seed grants: Thursday, April 6, 2023, at noon Pacific Time
Matching Grants: Thursday, May 4, 2023, at noon Pacific Time

Funding decision notification: July
Award start dates
Seed grants: August 1, 2023
Matching grants: September 1, 2023

Does the full proposal need to be submitted through the institutional Sponsored Projects or Contracts & Grants Office? 

Yes. Full proposals are required to be submitted through the applicant institution’s Sponsored Projects Office or Contracts & Grants office, and it is the applicant’s responsibility to ensure the submission to that office meets local submission timelines in advance of the SmartSimple deadline.

What changes can be made to an approved LOI? (Updated 2/24/23)

The content and scope of the full proposal should closely match that of the approved LOI. The LOI must accurately present the proposed activities, research topic, and approximate total budget, and full proposals should fall within the scope of the original LOI. Updates and minor adjustments are the only changes that may be made to the proposed scope, abstract, and activities when the full proposal is submitted. Collaborating research institutions and community/end-user partners may be added or changed at the full application stage, as long as award eligibility requirements continue to be met. The Applicant PI must remain the same but other individuals can be added or removed, as long as award eligibility requirements continue to be met. The award type (Seed Grant or Matching Grant), must be the same for both the LOI and the full proposal. 

Are public agencies, community organizations, labor groups, and/or industry partnerships required proposal components?

Proposals are required to describe how the research activities and outcomes will advance California climate priorities and achieve tangible outcomes and benefits. To achieve such outcomes, partnerships are necessary. Applicants should determine the form of partnership that will provide the highest likelihood of achieving the project goals. Examples of partnership forms are described below.

– Proposals may be submitted by one Applicant Principal Investigator on behalf of a multi-entity partnership. An individual may serve as Applicant PI on only one proposal in response to this solicitation, regardless of category. (As noted above, the Applicant PI in all cases must be a Principal Investigator at the UC system, California State University system, or a California private college or university.) Academic and/or non-academic partners would have specific roles on the grant, a budget commensurate with their roles, and sufficient funds to support their participation. Non-profit end-user partners may be included as subcontractors or as direct line items in the primary budget. Industry and for-profit partners may not request funding.

– Applicants may submit letters from state or local agencies, community groups or organizations, tribal councils, labor and/or industry—as relevant to the type and scope of the project—describing their expected engagement and support for the research project and engagement plan throughout the project. Such letters may be considered as part of the assessment of the feasibility and likely success of the project.

– Where appropriate, representatives from state or local agencies and/or community groups or organizations, tribal councils, labor and/or industry, as relevant to the scope of the proposed project, should be included on advisory boards or steering committees. If potential representatives are not yet identified for these advisory roles, the plan for engaging and identifying such individuals should be described in the proposal.

Who is required to submit a Letter of Commitment? Are MOUs required? Are letters of support allowed? (Updated 4/11/23)

For both Seed and Matching awards, a letter of commitment is required for all community/end-user partners, regardless of whether they are making matching contributions.
For those applicants, subcontract recipients and contributors who are providing matching contributions (e.g., cash, in-kind contributions, personnel time), letters should account for the organization’s entire contribution and match their contribution amount in the Project Contribution table.
Letters are also required for applicants with institutional indirect cost rates (IDC) that are more than the 10% maximum rate for these awards who choose to include the waived remainder of the IDC recovery in their matching funds. **Note that unrecovered IDC cannot be used to meet the minimum match requirement but can be included as additional matching funds above the minimum requirement.** The letter should indicate that the applicant is waiving the remainder of the indirect cost recovery based on their federally negotiated indirect rate. If the institution does not have a federally negotiated rate, the institution may indicate an alternate approved rate in the letter. The letter should clearly indicate the amount being waived and match what is entered in the Project Contributions table.
Letters are not required for applicants that choose not to apply unrecovered IDC toward their matching funds.
The letter(s) of commitment are separate from the project description and do not count towards the maximum page count. All letters of commitment should be combined into a single PDF and uploaded in the “Letters of Commitment” section on the Documentation tab.
General letters of support from non-participating individuals or entities will not be accepted.
Although not required, a memorandum of understanding (MOU) or a partnership agreement between research collaborators and community partners as described in Appendix B of the RFP is recommended. Key elements of MOUs or partnership agreements should be described in the “Organizational Structure” and “Community/End-User Engagement Plan” sections of the Project Description. The MOU should not be submitted as part of the proposal. Please see the Community Engagement webpage for MOU guidance, including a sample template, and other useful resources.

Who should submit a biosketch/CV and Other Support documentation, in what format, and what content should it include? (Updated 4/11/23)

Key personnel—anyone who makes substantive contributions to the project—should submit a biosketch/CV and Other Support documentation uploaded as one single PDF in the Project Personnel table. There are no required templates for these documents; any standard format is acceptable. The biosketch/CV should be no longer than three pages and include sufficient information to assess the individual’s experience and/or expertise relevant to the proposed project. The Other Support document does not count towards the 3-page maximum for the biosketch/CV.

I am an Academic/Research Collaborator of Community/End-User partner on a proposal. How do I get access to the proposal in SmartSimple? Why can’t I make edits in Smart Simple?

It is the Applicant PI’s responsibility to initiate access to the application in SmartSimple. If you are the Applicant PI, please see “Smart Simple Full Application Submission Instructions” available in SmartSimple for instructions on how to create subcontractor budgets and how to provide other forms of access to the proposal. Pay close attention to the instructions about inviting partners to your application beginning on page 4.

– Inviting Co-PIs: Note that inviting a Co-PI as a Co-Investigator will not grant them edit access to the proposal, nor access to their subcontract budget. This invitation must be triggered in the budget activity, as explained on page 12 of the “SmartSimple Full Application Submission Instructions.” Step-by-step instructions can also be found in the “SmartSimple Subcontractor Instructions for Co-PIs.”

– Inviting other Project Contributors: Instructions for inviting Project Contributors can be found on page 13 of the “SmartSimple Full Application Submission Instructions.”

Who should complete the Research Compliance form? (Updated 3/14/23)

The Research compliance form should be completed by the Applicant PI on behalf of all grant recipients.

Where can I find the Climate Seed and Matching full application instructions? (Updated 3/14/23)

All instructions are linked in the “Key Dates and Links to Submission Details” document under Templates and Instructions in the SmartSimple Full Application interface. Click here to access this document directly.

In the RFP, items #1-10 are listed under the Project Description heading but the Project Description template only includes items 4–8. Where should we include the other information in the Full Application? (Updated 5/1/23)

Follow the Project Description template for guidance on the sections to include (items #4-8 in the RFP). Item #3, Participating institutions and organizations, should be described in the “Organization Structure – Research Team, Collaboration and Mutual Benefit” and “Community/End-User Engagement Plan,” as appropriate. Individuals who will have a defined role in the project should be listed in the Project Personnel Table on the SmartSimple interface. Items 1, 2, and 9 are entered directly into the SmartSimple application interface. Letters of commitment should be uploaded to the Letters of Commitment section under the Documentation tab in SmartSimple. See the Full Application instructions for detailed instructions for each of the SmartSimple sections.

Can we include external links in our proposal documents? (Added 5/1/23)

External links are allowed but reviewers are not required to look at any of the information that they point to. They should not be used to provide responses to required information or to circumvent page limits.

Eligibility and Collaborations

Do PIs need to have PI status at their institution at the time of full proposal submission? What are the requirements for subcontractor Co-PIs? (Updated 4/21/23)

Applicant PIs and subcontractor Co-PIs/institutional leads must have PI status at the time of full proposal submission. PIs at academic/research institutions who do not have PI status as a function of their appointment type should submit an approved PI waiver from their Sponsored Projects/C&G office or a letter from a Department Chair or Dean. For Co-PIs (institutional leads) at non-academic/research entities, please provide a letter from an institutional official affirming that the named Co-PI is authorized to act as the institutional lead on behalf of the organization/entity and accepts responsibility for adhering to grant requirements. Documentation of PI status should be appended to the CV/resume of the Applicant PI or Co-PI in the project personnel table.

Will students and early-career faculty and researchers be able to participate? Is there a student/trainee development requirement?

Proposals from early career faculty and researchers with PI status at their California institution of higher education are encouraged. Inclusion of training opportunities for graduate students and post-doctoral fellows in both award types are strongly encouraged. Students, trainees, faculty, and community members may benefit from career development opportunities and job training through these awards, and these are encouraged, especially to the extent that such outcomes advance state and local climate action goals, the implementation of cutting-edge innovations, and the strengthening of California’s national leadership in research- and innovation-informed policy and solutions.

The new contract with postdoctoral scholars stipulates a two-year minimum initial appointment. Given that it now takes UC Path 4–6 months to complete a hire for postdocs, and given that the award period is only two years, how can we include postdocs in this opportunity?

Questions related to hiring personnel to be supported by the grant should be directed to your institution’s Sponsored Projects Office or Academic Personnel Office.

Does UC Davis Health count as a separate organization/entity from UC Davis?

Yes, UC Davis Health can participate as a separate academic and/or end-user partner.

How can for-profit entities, state agencies, local agencies, or federal agencies participate in the Climate Action projects? 

– Industry and other for-profit entities may participate in the “end-user partner” category and contribute resources, equipment or access to equipment, and/or personnel time and expertise to the project. Their contributions to the project should be documented in the proposal and included in the matching grant interface of the application.

– Local agencies may request funding for activities directly related to project activities and research aims.

– For-profit entities, state agencies and federal agencies cannot receive funds directly or via subcontract/subaward from the Climate Action Grant award budget.  

We are working with a California tribal community and want to ensure that we respect tribal data sovereignty and governance. How should researchers balance the need for tribal data sovereignty and governance with policies regarding the open dissemination of research results? (Updated 3/14/23)

All project team members should be aware of and respectful of tribal interests in protecting and securing traditional knowledge (see UNESCO’s definition of traditional knowledge). We encourage project teams to have open dialogue with tribal partners early in the collaboration process to ensure a shared understanding of how data will be used and disseminated. While blanket restrictions on research dissemination are not allowed, tribal traditional knowledge may be protected and handled as confidential information in some circumstances. Please consult with your institution for further guidance.

Where can I find out more about working with community partners? (Updated 3/14/23)

Please see the Community Engagement webpage for helpful resources. This page will continue to be updated.

Funding Priorities and Grant Administration

How will the proposals be selected?

Proposals will undergo competitive peer review and will be selected based on merit and adherence to the funding priorities. Please see the RFP for proposal review criteria.

Does the requirement for demonstrating impact within three years mean three years from the start or end of the award? 

Both Seed and Matching Grants should propose a demonstrable impact within three years from the start of the award.

What are the funding priorities?

Please see the Climate Action Resources page for information on the research priorities.

If a Matching Grant has some but not all components that elicit great enthusiasm from the reviewers, would partial funding be considered?

All proposals will be reviewed in accordance with the review criteria outlined in the RFP. Funding decisions, including approved award amount, will be made after the merit review is complete.

How will the funds be administered?

The University of California Office of Research and Innovation (R&I) will oversee the overall UC Climate Action Research Initiative. The Office of Research and Innovation (R&I) and the Council of Vice Chancellors for Research (COVCR) have certain key governance oversight, which includes the ability to define the scale, scope, and focus of the funding opportunities to ensure that the goals and intent of the funding are met. Proposal solicitation, review, and award administration will be managed by the Research Grants Program Office, a department within Research and Innovation. Letters of Intent, proposal submission, and award administration will be via the SmartSimple portal: 

Budget Guidelines and Restrictions

Are matching funds required? (Updated 4/21/23)

For Matching Grants, a minimum of 10% of the requested award amount in matching contributions is required at the time of application. Matching contributions may be provided by any of the participating institutions/project partners, or by non-participating third-party entities and these contributions will be considered as part of the proposal review as described in the RFP. Matching contributions may include: a) cash or in-kind contributions that cover or offset direct costs of the research project, and/or b) activities or in-kind contributions from synergistic projects that directly support and/extend the impact and outcomes of the proposed Climate Action project. A letter of commitment verifying the award match must be included in the proposal submission.
Matching contributions above the minimum are encouraged (but not required) and may be in the form of cash, in-kind and/or unrecovered indirect costs.
UC Climate Action Seed Awards do not require matching funds in place at the time of application. However, for both award types, wherever possible proposals should leverage existing external funding and resources and should identify specific target funding opportunities for extramural and continuing support for the research (i.e., federal and foundation grants, centers, and/or investors and industry partners.)
Additional guidance on allowable matching contributions is outlined in Appendix C of the RFP.

What documentation is needed to verify matching contributions? (Added 4/21/23)

Letters of commitment guaranteeing the contributions *must* be included for the minimum (10%) matching contributions. They are encouraged but not required for additional anticipated matching contributions.
To the extent possible, letters of commitment should come from the institution or entity making the contribution and the letter should be signed by an individual with authorization over those funds or resources. However, in cases where some or all of an extramural grant to one of the participating partners is being used to directly leverage or extend the climate outcomes or impact of the matching grant proposal, a letter from the recipient institution Sponsored Projects Office/C&G may be submitted. The letter must verify the existence of the grant the PI has identified as meeting all matching requirements, i.e., that it is synergistic in scope to the proposed project under this funding opportunity, extends the impact, and does not direct overlap with this request. The letter should confirm the amount of the match, the award number and project title, and compliance with all above requirements.
Additional Guidance on allowable matching contributions is outlined in Appendix C of the RFP.

Since indirect costs (IDC) are capped at 10% MTDC, can we use the foregone IDC (e.g., the difference between 10% MTDC and our federally negotiated rate/base) to meet the matching requirement? (Added 4/21/23)

The 10% minimum match must be composed of direct cost contributions (cash or in-kind), not foregone indirect costs. However, foregone indirect costs can be used for matching amounts above the required minimum of 10%.

What do we do if we cannot meet the 10% minimum match required for the Matching grants? (Added 4/21/23)

Matching grants are required to identify cash or in-kind contributions of at least 10% of the budget request to be eligible. Please review Appendix C of the RFP for additional instructions and guidelines. If the project team is having difficulty meeting the 10% match, the budget request and proposed scope may have to be reduced so that it aligns with the total resources available for the match.

To what extent may state and federal fund sources be used as matching contributions?

Guidelines regarding the matching contributions are provided in Appendix C of the RFP. Personnel effort contributed by institutions participating in the proposals, regardless of their status as public or private institutions, may count toward the matching contribution. Institutional funds from non-state sources, including federal matching grants and foundation grants, may also be used as matching contributions.  Grants from state agencies for complementary climate action projects cannot count as matching funds. Unrecovered indirect cost recovery should be documented for both Seed and Matching Grants, but do not count toward the minimum match requirements in the Matching Grant category. Please refer to Appendix C for further information. 

What are the allowable costs and budget guidelines? (Updated 4/11/23)

Please refer to the Guidelines for Budget Preparation and Matching Contributions in the RFP, as well as Appendix D: Allowable Costs and Project Contributions in the “SmartSimple Full Application Submission Instructions” available in SmartSimple.
Indirect cost (IDC) recovery is capped at 10% on a modified total direct cost basis (MTDC) and is included in the total award amounts for each award type. See pg. 11 of the RGPO Grant Administration Manual for a definition of MTDC.
The IDC rate is also capped at 10% for subcontractors on the award. All indirect costs count towards the overall budget and are included in the award amount cap. 
If a cost is not expressly prohibited in the non-allowable costs sections of the above guidance, then it is considered allowable if it is allocable and reasonable in relation to the project aims and the program priorities. Non-allowable costs will not result in administrative rejection of the full application. If awarded, non-allowable costs will be addressed in the prefunding process and may result in adjustments to the budget.
Please note that appropriateness of the budget will be evaluated as part of the review panel deliberations.

Can grant funds be spent in year 3 to do evaluation work and final reports, given the need to demonstrate impact by the third year?

Only activities that can be accomplished within the two-year granting period should be included in the project budget.

Can grant funds be budgeted for costs outside the state of California? Can researchers from out-of-state colleges and universities receive funds from the grant if they will contribute to activities in California? (Updated 2/24/23)

The California Climate Action Initiative is intended to support research activities in the state of California, for the benefit of Californians, relying on the tremendous breadth of expertise and services available in the state. All grant-funded project participants must be in California. researchers and individuals from out-of-state institutions or organizations may not receive funds through the grant. Matching contributions may be used for costs outside of California, but the activities must have impact in California. On a limited basis, travel to out-of-state conferences or presentations, and associated registration fees, may be charged to the award, as long as the travel and participation in those events is specifically for the purpose of dissemination of research findings and other project outcomes, and is in compliance with state law (e.g. AB 1887).

Can a for-profit partner provide goods and services (personnel time, equipment, etc.) in exchange for funds, or must those be in-kind contributions?

For-profit partners may not receive grant funds.

Are goods and services that need to be purchased from a for-profit vendor, contractor, or other for-profit entity an allowable use of funds? (Updated 3/7/23)

The goal of the Climate Action Initiative is to engage non-profit community/end-user partners. As described in the RFP, community/end user partners are recommended for the Seed category and required for the Matching category. Industry and for-profit end-users may not receive grant funds to conduct research activities. In fact, we anticipate industry partners may make contributions to the project that are part of the matching contributions to the research.
In some cases, specific services or consultation may be required to execute the project activities and achieve its stated outcomes. This is typically for technical assistance not otherwise available on the research team. In such cases, a service contract or stipend for those activities may be needed, and the services or stipend may be paid for those services. The costs for these services should be entered into the “Service Contracts and Consultants” section of the budget and clear justification provided. If there is any commitment of time or resources by any entity involved in the project above those entered in the budget, those should be included in the Project Contributions table for that entity.

Archived FAQs

California Climate Action

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