The Tufts Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI) Community Health Catalyst Program seeks proposals for collaborative, community-driven translational research projects undertaken jointly by community-based organizations and investigators from Tufts CTSI partner organizations. The program aims to stimulate community-researcher partnerships that address pressing and overlooked health issues impacting the well-being of communities. Successful projects must be scientifically sound and have the potential to generate meaningful results or knowledge to help advance prevention practices, support development of and access to new treatments and cures for disease, and/or increase the overall effectiveness and quality of health care and public health interventions.

Proposed projects may be community- or investigator-initiated and must focus on a specific community-identified need. They should provide insights to help address key issues affecting the identified communities and the broader public. Projects may include those that gather preliminary qualitative or quantitative data on a health research question of interest, evaluate an existing health-focused program, or develop a new health intervention. Applicants should articulate the value and impact of the proposed research project as well as the potential for supporting existing efforts and/or future work. A strong commitment to collaborative work and shared decision-making and an ability to meaningfully engage key stakeholders are essential.

Proposals must designate a representative from a community-based organization with a tax-exempt status and a Principal Investigator (PI) with a primary appointment or position at a Tufts CTSI-affiliated academic or clinical organization. Research teams may request up to $15,000 per award. They may allocate funding across sites in accordance with their projects’ needs.

Selected projects will be funded for one year, beginning May 1, 2020 and ending April 30, 2021, pending National Institutes of Health (NIH) approval.

Who is eligible?

To be eligible to apply for a Community Health Catalyst award, research teams are required to include a representative of a community-based  organization who will contribute to the development and execution of the project in a substantive, measurable way. These representatives must be affiliated with organizations that have tax exempt status per the Internal Revenue Service.

Request for Applications

The application period for the 2020 Community Health Catalyst Program is now closed.

Key Dates

  • Application submission period begins: Monday, July 8, 2019
  • Application submission period ends: Friday, September 27, 2019
  • Award announcements: late December 2019
  • Award period begins: Friday, May 1, 2020
  • Award period ends: Friday, April 30, 2021
  • Final project reports due: Thursday, July 29, 2021

Application Submission Process

The Community Health Catalyst Program application consists of fields to be filled in online and three program-specific forms. Prior to submission, applicants should access the REDCap online platform to download the forms provided by Tufts CTSI. Once the required documents have been completed, they should be uploaded as part of the application.

Application Outline

  • Project abstract (maximum 250 words)
  • Project summary (maximum one page)
  • Background and significance (maximum two pages)
  • Specific aims and research procedures (maximum three pages)
  • Leadership plan (maximum one page)
  • Description of next steps (maximum one page)
  • Bibliography (maximum one page)


  • Applicant certification and authorization (for lead site only)
  • Budget and budget justification (one per site)
  • NIH-format biosketch(es) for senior/key personnel (maximum five pages per biosketch)
  • Letter(s) of support/commitment (optional, but highly recommended)

Virtual Drop-in Sessions

The Community Health Catalyst Program team will be available to answer questions and offer guidance virtually on Tuesdays and Fridays from 4:00 to 6:00PM July 30 through September 27. To attend a virtual drop-in session, please click here to log into WebEx and enter meeting number 852 300 353 and password: CTSI. To join by phone, please call 617-627-6767 and enter access code: 852 300 353. No prior registration is required.

Available Resources and Services

Applicants are strongly encouraged, but not required, to discuss their proposed projects with Tufts CTSI during the application development phase. Our experts can assist you with meeting all eligibility and funding requirements and guide you through the application submission process. They can also provide methodological and technical support, recommend additional project team members, assist teams with project planning, and help identify and involve relevant stakeholders. If you would like to speak to a member of Tufts CTSI prior to or during the proposal development phase, please request an in-person or virtual consultation at https://informatics.tuftsctsi.org/pims/ or email the Community Health Catalyst Program team at community@tuftsctsi.org.

Applicants are also encouraged to review The Community Members’ Guide to Submitting a Community-Engaged Research Federal Grant Application. Written specifically for community-based organizations, this guide provides information about community-engaged research, community-academic research partnerships, and community-engaged research application process. To learn more about the guide and access links to additional instructions and resources, please click here.

The Tufts CTSI Community Health Catalyst Program

About Tufts CTSI

Tufts CTSI’s mission is to stimulate innovative broadly-engaged team science across the translational research spectrum to improve clinical care and health. We link scientists and scholars from a range of disciplines with clinical investigators, policy makers, and industry and community leaders to collaborate in conducting innovative clinical and translational research. We cultivate this collaboration and innovation by offering education, consultation, research expertise, and financial support to investigators.

Supported by the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS), Tufts CTSI is one of  more than 50 Clinical and Translational Science Awards (CTSAs) institutions across the country that impacts health by promoting clinical and translational science. Translation, as defined by NCATS, is the process of turning observations in the laboratory, clinic, and community into interventions that improve the health of individuals and populations, including, diagnostics, therapeutics, medical procedures, behavioral interventions, and health policy. To learn more about translational science and the translational spectrum for Tufts CTSI, please click here.

About the Community Health Catalyst Program

The Community Health Catalyst Program is a funding opportunity that provides one-year awards to new, developing, or existing community-researcher partnerships. Launched in 2019, the program supports community-focused research projects that help promote the health and wellbeing of the identified communities and the broader public. It focuses on collaborative, community-driven, translational research projects that leverage the diverse expertise and assets of community-based Tufts CTSI-affiliated academic or clinical organizations – thereby providing insights to help address pressing and overlooked health issues impacting the well-being of communities, especially those that are underrepresented.


Research Team Members

Proposals must designate a representative from a community-based organization with a tax exempt status obtained through the Internal Revenue Service (e.g., 501(c)(3) or other) and a Principal Investigator (PI) with a primary appointment or position at a Tufts CTSI-affiliated academic or clinical organization. Unless otherwise agreed upon, the PI’s institution will be expected to serve as the “lead” or “prime” on the project. Research teams may include other collaborators both from community-based as well as Tufts CTSI organization.

Eligible Lead Sites

Academic Partners and Collaborators

  • Brandeis University
  • Massachusetts General Hospital Institute of Health Professions
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Northeastern University
  • RAND Corporation
  • The Jackson Laboratory
  • Tufts University

Clinical Partners and Collaborators

  • Baystate Medical Center
  • Lahey Hospital and Medical Center
  • Maine Medical Center
  • New England Baptist Hospital
  • Newton-Wellesley Hospital
  • Elizabeth’s Medical Center
  • Tufts Medical Center

Eligibility Criteria

  1. Representative from community-based organization with a tax exempt status (may or may not be a Tufts CTSI-affiliated community partner or collaborator organization)


Investigator with a position or faculty appointment at a Tufts CTSI-affiliated academic or clinical research organization.

  1. No current funding for the proposed project or only modest intramural or extramural funding that will be enhanced by the Community Health Catalyst Program research project activities.

Application Review Process and Considerations

Application Review Criteria

All complete applications will be reviewed for scientific merit, research significance, and alignment with the program’s overall objectives. They will be rated by two scientific reviewers from Tufts CTSI-affiliated partner organizations and two Tufts CTSI Stakeholder Expert Panel representatives using the 9-point rating scale (1=exceptional; 9 =poor). The review process will follow NIH scoring guidelines based on the criteria listed below.

Scientific Review

  1. Relevance – ability to meet NCATS and Tufts CTSI objectives by demonstrating explicit relevance to improved health.
  2. Significance – quality and merit of the proposed research project.
  3. Innovation – potential for impact through development of novel solutions and processes.
  4. Investigators – qualifications of investigators to carry out the proposed research project.
  5. Environment – availability of resources to support the proposed research project.
  6. Approach – scientific rigor of the clinical or methodological design plan to meet the proposed objectives and goals.
  7. Future Plans – clear articulation of next steps for future research, dissemination of project results, and seeking future funding.

Stakeholder Review

  1. Research team – depth of stakeholder engagement and strength of collaborative researcher/community partnership.
  2. Relevance ability to demonstrate explicit relevance and value to community health.
  3. Approach – rigor of the project design plan to meet proposed objectives and goals.

Funding Decision

Final funding decisions will be made independently by the Tufts CTSI Senior Leadership Team based on the reviewers’ recommendations, the overall impact score, budget justification, and available funds. Awards will only be made to projects that are scientifically rigorous, can demonstrate effective engagement of relevant stakeholders, and are responsive to the needs of the identified communities. All applicants will be informed of the outcome of their submission via email. Reviewers’ comments will be provided to all primary applicants, regardless of whether or not they are awarded funding.

General Guidance and Requirements

Budgets and Budget Justifications

Applicants may only request direct costs that are necessary and reasonable to complete the work described in their applications. Such direct costs may include key personnel and support staff (e.g., student or research assistant) salaries and fringe benefits; consultant services; stipends or compensation for stakeholders involved in the project; participant incentives; linguistic translation of consent forms or other project-related materials, and domestic travel, if related to the study. Indirect costs, such as general office supplies, membership dues, professional fees, conference registration and attendance costs, or items generally considered “facilities and administrative” or operating expenses, are not allowed and will not be covered.

The budget justification should describe the importance of each budgeted item and/or service. The personnel justification should include the name, role, and effort for every budgeted individual on the project. Subcontracts, if necessary, should be budgeted separately in the research proposal. Subcontract expenses can include any of the allowable costs described in the budget guidance, including personnel and/or other direct costs.

Letters of Support

Applicants may submit up to five letters of support. Any letters should come from individuals who are familiar with the specific proposal, team of investigators, and available resources to be provided by participating institutions. They can reinforce institutional support and communicate enthusiasm for the proposed project. It is strongly recommended to customize each letter to the specific signatory and/or to highlight a different strong point.

Research Team Agreements upon Proposal Submission

Applications may be reviewed by the Tufts CTSI Research Collaboration Team, Stakeholder and Community Engagement, and/or Integrating Underrepresented Population in Research program staff and faculty to identify projects for further development and submission to other funding announcements. Applicants may be contacted to discuss such research and funding opportunities prior to or after the award announcements are made.

Research Team Agreements upon Proposal Funding

Release of funds is contingent upon receipt of all necessary local institutional and regulatory approvals. Award recipients will be expected to initiate the approval application process promptly after receiving their notice of award. If applicable, proof of exempt or exclusion status determination must be obtained. In addition, projects involving human and/or animal subjects may not begin until the appropriate NIH/NCATS approvals are received. Award recipients will be required to submit their local approvals and any supplemental documentation to Tufts CTSI as soon as possible to ensure adequate time for review by NIH/NCATS.

Confidentiality and Non-Disclosure

All proposals will be deemed proprietary and confidential and will be protected against any unauthorized use and any unauthorized or uncontrolled disclosure beyond Tufts CTSI, the Community Health Catalyst Program Review Committee, and Stakeholder Expert Panel.


Need further assistance? We are here to help. Please contact us at community@tuftsctsi.org.


Aviva Must, PhD, Director of the Community Health Catalyst Program

Nadia Prokofieva, MA, Project Manager