Engage Pilot Award program


CTSI requests applications for the Engage Pilot Award program. The Engage program seeks projects that will test new ways to involve individuals in maintenance of their own health.  In particular, we are looking for solutions that give agency and responsibility primarily to the non-medical individual. In this way, Engage applications will be distinct from other initiatives that develop treatments or interventions that will be pushed from medical providers to patients.

Because of the focus on individuals in the community, this program will emphasize and require community-engaged methodology.  The structure of this award will include support from the CTSI Community PARTners Core, and we intend that built-in support will encourage applications from investigators who may not have prior experience with community-engaged methodology.

Examples of projects that might be responsive to this request include

  • A strategy to improve diet in persons at risk of metabolic syndrome
  •  Self-monitoring of weight or edema in persons with heart failure
  • Awareness of lifestyle changes to affect blood pressure
  • Modification of substance use, including alcohol or tobacco

Request for proposal

Click below for more instructions including eligibility, proposal examples, etc.

Program Requirements

 Projects are required to conduct at least one Community Engagement Studio (https://ctsi.pitt.edu/research-services/core-services/community-partners/community-engagement-studios/) and to establish a meaningful partnership with a community group or organization. Budgets must include direct costs for studios and equitable compensation for community partners with whom the research is being co-created. Examples of ways to budget for community partners are stipends for attending meetings, yearly honoraria for community-based organizations, or hourly budgeting for involvement in the research project.

Applicants are strongly encouraged to work with the Community PARTners Core at CTSI during the development and planning of the projects. The Community PARTners Core is made up of Community Engagement Coordinators and Core Directors who are experts in community-partnered research methodologies. The PARTners core can also assist teams in how to budget for community partnerships in research.

Proposals should also describe how they will disseminate results to the community in engaging and accessible ways; support is available from the Community PARTners Core for applicants who need assistance with community-level dissemination. Applicants should also create a plan for maintaining these relationships and committing to ongoing community-engaged research.

CTSI Assistance (Optional)

If you would like to request a consultation, please fill out this form. Select “Community Engagement Support” and make note of your intention to apply for the Engage Pilot Awards in the additional information section.

Key Dates

Round 1 LOI Submission Deadline:

November 8, 2023, by 11:59:59 p.m. EDT

Round 1 Notification:

November 17, 2023

Round 2 Full Proposal Submission Deadline:

December 8, 2023, by 11:59:59 p.m. EDT (by invitation)

Round 2 Notification:

December 21, 2023

Earliest Anticipated Start Date:

January 15, 2024

(award must start within three months of notification)

Funding Information

This Pilot offers University-affiliated investigators up to $45,000 in funding. Projects are required to conduct at least one Community Engagement Studio (CES) or to establish a meaningful partnership with a community organization.

Special consideration is given to applications that develop and describe plans for the following:

  •         Maintaining and enriching relationships established during the award period.
  •         Disseminating findings in unique and creative ways (e.g.., use of infographics)

The funding cycle will be for 12 months after the start date; no extensions of this award period will be made. Funding cannot start until any necessary regulatory approvals have been received (IRB, hSCRO, IBC, CORID, IACUC). Projects must start within 3 months of Notification of the Award. Projects that do not start within 3 months will be forfeited

CTSI pilots do not have any mechanism for no-cost extensions; any funds that are not used during the award period will be forfeited.

This program is eligible for the Training Bonus Award (https://ctsi.pitt.edu/funding/funding-opportunities/bonus-funding-for-ctsi-pilot-awards/).  Because community engagement is a core requirement of this program, this program is not eligible for the Community Engagement Bonus.  Applications that intend to apply for a Bonus Award should state that intent in the application according to the instructions for the Bonus.


The Principal Investigator (PI) must be a University of Pittsburgh faculty member; postdoctoral trainees and trainees in clinical training programs are not eligible to serve as PI. Faculty members on early-career training awards or clinical research scholars (i.e., recipients of K-series or similar career development grants) are eligible. New PIs are strongly encouraged, but submissions from established investigators will be accepted if there is clear evidence that the pilot project represents a distinctly new direction from their previously funded work.

Study teams that involve cross-disciplinary collaborations are strongly encouraged. Co-investigators may be from other universities; however, CTSI’s primary mission is to promote research at the University of Pittsburgh, so applicants should justify extensive off-campus collaboration.

Using the Pitt InfoReady Submission Platform

CTSI recently transitioned to using the Pitt InfoReady grant submission platform to collect and review all pilot project submissions. If applicants have not previously used this system, they should be aware that they will be required to create a new account before they are able to upload their PDF submission. Applicants will be required to register their project in the system by providing the following information:

  •  A title for their project (50-character limit)
  •  A brief project summary (500-word limit) that should match the abstract and scope of work provided in the Letter of Intent

These fields are used primarily for internal reference and can be edited after the project has been registered. 

If you have any questions while using the system or encounter any errors while submitting, please contact CTSI Pilot Funding Core at ctsipilots@pitt.edu.