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The King Center invites proposals from Stanford faculty for ambitious new initiatives harnessing and developing the university’s distinctive strengths in research on global development and poverty.

Initiatives are research endeavors, typically led by two or more faculty members, that produce well-defined, cutting-edge academic outputs broader than stand-alone research projects over a multi-year period. They are envisioned to provide significant “public goods” that could benefit a larger group of faculty and students.

To create a more cohesive community of faculty working on global development and poverty alleviation, the King Center can physically house an initiative’s postdocs, predoctoral fellows, and technical staff, as well as host initiative events (conferences, seminars, internal workshops, etc.).

Initiatives grow from common faculty interest and are faculty-led, and each is developed and launched on its own timeline. Faculty may apply for one year of seed funding for an initiative or for a multi-year full initiative. The next deadline for seed funding proposals  and for letters of intent for full initiative proposals is Monday, October 23, 2023. The deadline for full initiative proposals is Wednesday, November 29, 2023

View current and past initiatives funded by the King Center

Scope of proposals

Proposals that bring together faculty in new ways are encouraged. The proposed work may involve the broad range of disciplines involved in global development, individually or in combination, including but not limited to earth sciences, economics, engineering, medicine, political science, and policy. 

Proposals for which the additional funding would be incremental to funding already available, or proposals for which the research is already sufficiently advanced to be a good candidate for other funding, are less likely to be selected.

Seed funding of up to $100,000 for potential initiatives that need some initial support to develop into full-fledged initiatives can also be requested. Such initial support could be used for a faculty workshop that meets over the course of the year, funding for data acquisition necessary to develop "proof of concept" for an initiative, or funding for a predoctoral research fellow or a postdoctoral fellow to help with background research. The expectation is that the seed funding will lead to an initiative proposal through the full application process the following year. There is no guarantee that proposals that receive seed funding will be funded as initiatives, however. Please note that seed funding for initiatives is subject to the same evaluation criteria as full initiatives and seed funding is not a project funding mechanism.

Proposals for seed funding

Proposals for seed funding should describe the initiative objectives and activities in up to five pages. Please describe the broad vision for what a full initiative would look like, concrete deliverables for the proposed seed funding, and how the seed funding will be used to develop a full initiative. Please also list the proposed faculty collaborators and others who would be involved with the work. The write-up should address each of the evaluation criteria described in the "proposal review and evaluation criteria" section below.

In an additional two pages, please include a budget with the key intended uses of funds. Describe the extent to which other sources of funding have been solicited or received for this effort.

Faculty should expect to hear back from the center about the status of their application within one month of their seed funding submission.

Submit your seeding funding proposal

Proposals for full-scale initiatives

Letter of intent submission for full-scale initiative proposals

Faculty members who intend to submit a full proposal may first provide a brief letter of intent. The letter should describe the proposed initiative in two pages and list the proposed faculty collaborators. Proposals with only one faculty investigator are expected to include a significant training and community-building component (such as inclusion of collaborators based in low- and middle-income countries and/or post-doctoral scholars as co-primary investigators).  Make sure to describe concrete deliverables for the proposed initiative and address each of the evaluation criteria described below.

In an additional page, please provide an approximate annual budget with the key intended uses of funds. Describe the extent to which other sources of funding have been solicited or received for this effort.

Letters of intent will be screened for relevance and promise. Faculty should expect to hear back from the center within ten days of their LOI submission. Faculty may also choose to submit a full proposal without submitting a letter of intent. 

Submit your letter of intent for a full initiative proposal

Full proposal format

The full proposal should include:

  1. a statement of significance,
  2. a brief explanation of the academic and policy context of the proposed initiative,
  3. concrete objectives (including concrete outputs and deliverables),
  4. activities that will be undertaken to achieve these objectives,
  5. metrics for evaluating success, including policy impact,
  6. how the proposed initiative addresses each of the evaluation criteria for proposals, including a description of how the proposed initiative will build community at Stanford,
  7. an annual budget for an initial three- to five-year period, noting any other funding and whether other applications for funding have been submitted and/or awarded,
  8. any requests for center space for staff or other facilities needs,
  9. a description of the role played by each faculty member and student (or type of students) involved and expected time commitment,
  10. a concrete description of faculty leadership for the initiative, and
  11. longer-term goals, including a path toward sustaining the initiative’s work.

Proposal specifications

  • The proposal should be no more than ten pages including the text, figures, tables, and references. Use one inch margins and an 11 point or larger font. 
  • The budget and budget justification are limited to three additional pages. Proposals that contain faculty salary support or support for existing staff or postdocs will be looked upon unfavorably, unless an exceptional case can be made.
  • Each Principal Investigator who will be associated with the proposed work should submit a CV.
  • Proposed budgets need not be routed through OSR for this internally funded research initiative. 
  • No IDC need be included in the budget. 
  • Proposals must be self-contained with no links to additional information.

Submit your full proposal


After the proposal is submitted, the faculty leadership will be invited to make a brief presentation on the proposal to the selection committee and answer questions from the committee. Presentations will be scheduled in early January.

Proposal review and evaluation criteria

The objective of the review process is to identify high quality initiatives that are consistent with the goals of this solicitation. The proposals will be reviewed by the King Center’s Faculty Steering Committee. Faculty Steering Committee members who are involved in the proposed initiatives will recuse themselves from discussions of the relevant proposals. The committee may be supplemented by other faculty and experts at Stanford and outside with knowledge related to the areas of research but who are not involved in the proposed effort, with the requirement that each reviewer maintain the confidentiality of the proposed work.

After applying a general filter for alignment with the themes of global poverty and development, the Faculty Steering Committee will use the following criteria to evaluate proposals:

  1. Innovation,
  2. Academic rigor,
  3. Potential for broader social impact,
  4. Creation/provision of “public goods” that benefit the broader Stanford community and beyond,
  5. Whether the proposed initiative would create a truly new effort that would not otherwise be possible.

The Faculty Steering Committee will vote on whether to recommend that a proposal be funded, returned with a recommendation to “revise and submit” (with accompanying committee comments), or rejected.


It is anticipated that funding decisions will be announced approximately two months after full proposals are submitted.

Eligibility for initiative funding

Please note that the primary Principal Investigators (PIs) must be Stanford faculty members and be eligible per Stanford policy.

Initiative funding and duration

Although there is no predetermined funding limit for each proposed initiative, value for money will be a critical component of funding decisions. The source of funding is gift funds; therefore no initiative may charge indirect costs. Seed funding for initiatives is for a one year period. Full initiatives will be funded for an initial three- to five-year period. 

After the initial period, initiatives and seed initiatives may apply for additional support. Renewal applications will be considered along with proposals for new initiatives.

Initiative reporting

PIs of initiatives will be required to prepare an interim progress report at the end of each year, and to meet on a quarterly basis with the King Center’s leadership. Release of the next year’s funding is contingent upon submission of the interim progress report. At the end of the final year of funding, a short summary report and presentation materials will be required. If any technical review sessions, workshops, or other activities relevant to the initiative are held, PIs will be expected to participate in them. Papers/abstracts and summaries of work conducted under the initiative may be posted on the center website.


For questions on initiatives please contact King Center Executive Director Jessica Leino at