Propose an activity that has the potential for transformative impact, leading to tangible and recognizable “change for the better”

Seize an opportunity previously not recognized

Implement a breakthrough approach to an intractable problem

Be innovative and interdisciplinary

Bring together a complementary team


Do not seek funds in phase 1 for a center or institute.  Instead, focus on what are the most important one or two activities that you envision the center or institute would engage in.  Ask for funds to make tangible progress on those activities.

Do not propose an activity/project that is well suited to be funded by traditional means (e.g., NIH, DOE, NSF, etc.)   Instead propose an activity that is hard to imagine being funded by any of these agencies (too risky, too interdisciplinary, etc.)

Do not list milestones that are “logistical” in nature.   The following are not acceptable milestones: (i) will hire X postdocs, (ii) will hold Y workshops, (iii) will offer Z courses.  Instead list milestones that demonstrate tangible change for the better: (i) will reduce violence by X amount, (ii) will increase voter participation by Y amount, (iii) will increase energy efficiency by Z amount.

Do not propose an activity that has no chance of leading to a clear milestone(s) after one year.   The milestones you list should be potentially achievable and recognizable after a year, even if there is risk that your innovative activity may not work.