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Call for Joint Research Proposals: EDF/IIF 2024

iStock/JayLazarin: New York City’s Battery Park Underpass in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy

2024 Call for Joint Research Proposals
Environmental Defense Fund – Cornell Atkinson

Key Dates

  • September 26-7, 2023: Information and networking session
  • November 20, 2023: LOI submissions due by 5:00 P.M. ET
  • December 8, 2023: LOI feedback returned to applicant teams
  • January 19, 2024: Full Proposals due by 5:00 P.M. ET
  • March 1, 2024: Funding decisions announced
  • April 1, 2024: Funds become available
  • June 30, 2024: Latest project start date


The Environmental Defense Fund (EDF) and the Cornell Atkinson Center for Sustainability welcome competitive proposals for joint collaborative research or workshops that are relevant to informing environmental policy and have achievable one-year impact goals.

Now in the ninth year of our collaboration, the Cornell Atkinson Center for Sustainability and EDF are partnering to accelerate problem-solving research relevant to national and international environmental policy discussions. Research teams should include researchers from both Cornell University and EDF and a clear collaboration plan. Work can be basic or applied but should always have a clear pathway to impact and an emphasis on actionable results.

Priority Themes

During this grant funding cycle, we welcome research focused on overlapping priorities currently being articulated in EDF’s Vision 2030 and the Cornell Atkinson Center’s priority research areas. Both organizations prioritize research that incorporates environmental justice and equity considerations.


  • Stabilize the Climate
  • Strengthen the Ability of People and Nature to Thrive in a Changing Climate
  • Support People’s Health

Cornell Atkinson Center for Sustainability:

  • Increasing Food Security
  • Reducing Climate Risk
  • Accelerating Energy Transitions
  • Advancing One Health


Cornell Atkinson and EDF expect to award up to four project grants ($50,000 to $100,000 each). The funding goes to the Cornell researcher, but EDF scientists or economists work collaboratively to define and guide the topic and implement research results.

Guidelines for Letter of Intent (LOI) Submissions

Letters of intent are recommended from one of the co-principal investigators in advance of submitting a proposal. LOI reviews are intended to result in stronger proposals rather than to exclude any projects from advancing to the proposal stage.

Please use this online LOI form to submit your letter before 5:00 P.M. ET on Monday, November 20, 2023. LOI sections include:

  1. Lead collaborator names and bios
  2. Project title (max 150 characters)
  3. Describe the central challenge you aim to address through this project
    (guidance: up to 1,200 characters with spaces)
  4. Describe the project aims, rationale, activities, and pathway to impact
    (guidance: up to 1,200 characters with spaces)
  5. Priority area alignment

LOI reviews are intended to result in stronger proposals rather than to exclude any projects from advancing to the proposal stage.

Proposal Submission Guidelines

Please use this online proposal form to submit your proposal before 5:00 P.M. ET on Friday, January 19, 2024.

(Save narrative as “2024-EDF-CU-YourLastName.PDF”)

The Co-Principal Investigators representing Cornell and EDF should submit a very brief, two-page proposal narrative as a PDF via the online form hyperlinked above.

The following aspects should be addressed in your proposal:

  • What is the central challenge and the work to be accomplished? Why is this an important issue in sustainability and a healthy environment?
  • What is the intended contribution of the proposed research to understanding, managing, and solving specific environmental issues?
  • Provide a list of specific project milestones with timeline against which to evaluate progress.
  • What deliverables will be produced? Is a clear pathway to impact defined?
  • How is this research collaborative and what are each partner’s roles? Proposals showing synergy between the partners and outcomes that wouldn’t be possible individually will be favored.
  • Is the research durable, i.e., can the research continue or policy be implemented after funding has expired?

REFERENCES (optional)

A single page of references may be added after the two-page narrative. Any other items provided may be viewed or omitted at the discretion of the evaluation panel.

(Use template 2024-EDF-CU-Template.XLSX | Save budget as “2024-EDF-CU-YourLastName.XLSX”)

  • Proposers may request funding up to $100K (direct costs at Cornell) for one year. We are expecting most research proposals to request from $50–80K (Cornell budget), and most workshops from $5K–10K (total budget).
  • The Excel budget template will be available for download and should be submitted as a separate file when you submit your proposal. Please also include a budget justification at the end of your proposal for any expenditure for which the purpose of the expenditure is not clear. The budget justification does not count against your proposal page count.
  • Funds may be used to cover: personnel (excluding faculty salary), travel, supplies, and equipment.
  • For Cornell researchers: Cornell Atkinson will transfer allocated funds to an account in the Cornell proposer’s department. These funds have no indirect cost recovery associated with them.


Upload a single PDF file containing the two-page narrative, the budget narrative, and optional references along with the separate Excel budget spreadsheet to the proposal submission form.


  • Proposals will be evaluated by Cornell Atkinson and EDF leadership. Selections will be finalized and awards announced on March 1, 2024.
  • Given the 12-month timeframe for the funding, we envision Cornell applicants will most likely want to use funds to support postdocs or senior graduate students rather than identify and hire new personnel.
  • SCHEDULE NOTE: Funds will be available on April 1, 2024; all activities must commence by June 30, 2024. Project duration may not exceed 12 months.

Project Selection Criteria

A review committee composed of EDF staff, Cornell Atkinson staff, and Cornell Atkinson fellows will
evaluate the proposals based on the following criteria:

  • Intellectual merit and significance
  • Fit with EDF and Cornell Atkinson priorities
  • Team strength
  • Plan for regular communication and strong collaboration among co-PIs
  • Deliverables, metrics, and timeline
  • Budget
  • Pathway to impact and level of real-world impact
  • Likelihood of sustained collaborative work and/or potential for external funding

Awardee Responsibilities

Successful project co-PIs who receive funding are strongly encouraged to participate in opportunities that arise to showcase their projects:

  • Participate in future LOI and proposal reviews
  • Submit a final report
  • Alert Cornell Atkinson and EDF contacts of all publications, presentations, testimony, etc. associated with the funded research
  • Provide timely periodic updates to Cornell Atkinson and EDF as requested
  • Acknowledge EDF and Cornell Atkinson in all project outputs
  • Work with Cornell Atkinson and EDF communications staff to develop public press releases on
    research results as warranted

More Information

If you have follow-up questions, contact:

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