UC Climate Action Research Initiative 2022

Frequently Asked Questions

1 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.

2 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. Proposal requirements will be detailed in a Request for Proposals to be issued in December 2022.

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. Proposal requirements will be detailed in a Request for Proposals to be issued in December 2022

3 What is the timeline for applying for these awards?

UC Climate Action Innovation & Entrepreneurship Awards will be 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 should be made in early 2023.
 
UC Climate Action Seed Awards and UC Climate Action Matching Grants will be solicited in response to a Request for Proposals (RFP) to be issued in December 2022. The general timeline for proposal submission and review, subject to change, is:

December 2022        RFP Release
January 2023            Required Letter of Intent Submission Deadline
February 2023           Notification of LOI Review / Invitation to Full Proposal
March 2023               Full Proposals Due
May/June 2023          Notification of Award/Review Outcome

LOI due date
Thursday, January 19, 2023, at noon Pacific Time.
* Please note that Monday, January 16, 2023 is a holiday and staff will not be available to respond to emails. Due to the holiday and current weather conditions that are significantly impacting power access throughout California, it is strongly recommended that LOIs be submitted before Friday, January 13, 2023 so that staff are available to assist with any technical issues that may arise. *

LOI notification date
No later than February 7, 2023

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

4 How do I apply for funding?

Instructions on how to apply will be provided in the Request for Proposals. Letters of Intent are required for the Seed Awards and Matching Grants. Proposals must meet the funding priorities and eligibility requirements as detailed in the RFP. All Letters of Intent and full proposals must be submitted through the University of California Research Grants Program Office (RGPO) application portal, https://rgpogrants.ucop.edu. The RFP will be distributed widely through RGPO channels. You may also request to be added to the mailing list by signing up on the UCOP Research & Innovation Climate Action “Contact” webpage: https://uckeepresearching.org/california-climate-action/

5 How can I decide if I should submit in the Seed or Matching category?

Academic/research institutional collaborations and community/end-user partners are required components of the Matching category (they are encouraged but not required for the Seed category). The proposal must meet all eligibility requirements of the category you select. Applicants should be confident they meet the minimum requirements for the Matching Grant category at the time of LOI submission.  This includes the ability to meet the minimum direct cost match for the proposal as outlined in Appendix C of the RFP. You may not switch award types after your LOI has been approved.  

6 Do PIs need to be eligible (have PI status at their institution) at the time of LOI submission?

Applicant PIs and subcontractor Co-PIs (institutional leads) must have PI status at the time of full proposal submission. PIs who do not have PI status as a function of their institutional title should submit documentation from an institutional official indicating approved PI status at the time of full proposal submission. 

7 Does the Letter of Intent need to be submitted through the institutional Sponsored Projects or Contracts & Grants Office? 

No, LOIs do not need to be submitted through the institution’s C&G/SPO. A signature from an institutional signing official is not required for LOI submission. Full proposals are required to be submitted through the applicant institution’s Sponsored Projects 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.   

8 Can a research group submit multiple LOIs? 

There is no restriction on the number of proposals submitted by a research group, provided no individual serves as Applicant PI on more than one proposal. However, the intent of this opportunity is to stimulate multidisciplinary and cross-institutional partnerships that can advance innovative climate action solutions. Named project participants are expected to make substantive contributions to project activities and outcomes. Research teams are encouraged to submit the strongest single proposal possible to advance their innovative climate action solution, and to leverage partnerships and expertise to meet those goals. 

9 What changes can be made to an approved LOI? 

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 and award type (Seed Grant or Matching Grant), must be the same for both the LOI and the full proposal. 

10 How will the proposals be selected?

For general requirements and scope of proposals, please see the overview of each award type in FAQ#2 above. Proposals will undergo competitive peer review and be selected based on merit and adherence to the funding priorities. Proposal review and evaluation criteria for the UC Climate Action Seed Awards and UC Climate Action Matching Grants will be detailed in their respective RFP. An Appendix to the RFP will provide additional resources and links.

11 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. 

12 What are the funding priorities?

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

13 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:  https://rgpogrants.ucop.edu/ 

14 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.

15 How can for-profit entities 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. For-profit entities and federal agencies cannot receive funds directly or via subcontract/subaward from the Climate Action Grant award budget. 

16 Are matching funds required?

Matching funds are required for applications in the “Matching Grant” category (UC Climate Action Matching Grants; award amounts $2–10M). The matching amounts and sources must be identified in the proposal and may include both cash and specified in-kind contributions. A letter of commitment from the matching fund source verifying the award match must be included in the proposal submission. UC Climate Action Seed Awards ($500K–$2M) 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.)

17 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. 

18 What are the allowable costs and budget guidelines?

The full list of allowable costs and budget guidelines will be published in the RFP. Indirect cost recovery is established at 10% on a modified total direct cost basis (MTDC), and is included in the total award amounts for each award type.

19 How can interested individuals get more involved and provide their expertise?

A system-wide webinar was held on Monday, Oct. 17, 2022. A recording of the webinar has been posted at https://uckeepresearching.org/california-climate-action/.

UC campuses and other locations may host and sponsor events to generate dialogues, plan proposals, or support collaborations across institutions and sectors. Please contact the Office of Research of your local institution to inquire about any such planned events.

20 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.

21 AB179 – Amended State Budget Act regarding the UC Climate Action Funds:

Of the funds appropriated in this item, $185,000,000 shall be available on a one-time basis to support University of California climate initiatives intended to further progress towards the State of California’s climate goals, allocated as follows:

(1) $100,000,000 shall support climate action research seed and matching grants, and grants for projects at University of California Innovation and Entrepreneurship centers to incentivize and expand climate innovation and entrepreneurship. These grants shall be made on a competitive basis, support applied research, be made available to individuals and teams without regard for their affiliation or non-affiliation with the University of California, and be awarded as matching grants to leverage additional funding sources. It is the intent of the Legislature that the University of California coordinate with state agencies and departments in the identification of areas of research to be supported by these grants in order to promote alignment with the state’s climate research needs.
 
(2) $47,000,000 shall be available to support climate initiatives at the University of California, Riverside campus.
 
(3) $20,000,000 shall be available to support climate initiatives at the University of California, Santa Cruz campus.
 
(4) $18,000,000 shall be available to support climate initiatives at the Merced campus.
 
(5) The amounts allocated in this subprovision are available for encumbrance or expenditure until June 30, 2024.
 
(b) It is the intent of the Legislature that, with the appropriation in paragraph (1) of subdivision (a) of this provision, the University of California further ongoing efforts to address climate change in California through climate initiatives, including climate action research seed and matching grants and support of climate innovation and entrepreneurship. It is the intent of the Legislature in providing these funds to the University of California that the University of California act on its behalf to lessen the burdens of government to further the state’s climate goals.

22 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.

23 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.

24 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.

25 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.

26 Who should submit a biosketch/CV, in what format, and what content should it include?

Key personnel—anyone who makes substantive contributions to the project—should submit a biosketch/CV. Standard formats are 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.

27 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.

28 Can grant funds be budgeted for costs outside the state of California?

Allowable costs are summarized in the RFP under Project Eligibility and in Appendix C: “All research activities must take place in California, and costs are expected to be incurred in California.” All grant-funded project participants must be in California. 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).

California Climate Action

We value your input and welcome your questions and comments.