2009 Small Grants Competition:
Immigration and Poverty: Request for Applications

Deadline for Receipt of Proposals: February 2, 2009

National Poverty Center
Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, University of Michigan

Request for Applications PDF Document


The National Poverty Center (NPC) at the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy, University of Michigan seeks to fund research that will broaden and/or deepen our understanding of the implications of the increasing foreign-born population for American society, public policy, and low-income workers and families. The NPC anticipates funding up to 4 proposals, up to a maximum of $17,500 per award.


The focus of the NPC’s 2009 small grants competition will be on the implications of the growing foreign-born population for American society, public policy, and poverty. The highest priority will be given to proposals that investigate the linkages among immigration and poverty-related outcomes and contexts, broadly defined. We encourage qualitative as well as quantitative research designs.

During the 1990s, more than a million immigrants per year came to the U.S. By 2003, the foreign-born population was about 12 percent of the total population. This increase has many implications for American society, public policy and the poor as immigrants are now settling not just in a few gateway states, but in many smaller communities throughout the country. The growing share of less-skilled immigrants has also changed the nature of the labor market; over a third of workers without a high school degree in the U. S. are immigrants. Immigrants bring their skills and labor to communities, but often create new demands on schools, neighborhoods and state and local governments.

The types of questions that we propose to support through this competition include, but are not restricted to, the following:

  • How are the children of immigrants faring relative to the children of native-born parents? How do second-generation young adults fare relative to young adults whose parents were US-born? What are the effects of legal status of parents on these outcomes? How do neighborhoods, schools, and communities mediate these intergenerational outcomes?
  • At what rate do immigrants leave poverty with time in the U.S. and how does this compare to similarly skilled natives? Has this pattern of poverty exits changed over time and how does it differ for immigrants from different countries? What are the strategies that immigrants use to achieve greater economic stability (for example, investing in own educational attainment or that of their children, asset-accumulation strategies etc.)?
  • Under what conditions do migrants cyclically enter and leave the US? Are return decisions influenced by economic conditions in the U.S. or in the home country, by relative economic performance of the migrant in the U.S., or by changes in immigration law or law enforcement, or other factors?
  • How does increased immigration affect the supply of low-skilled positions in a labor market? Does this affect the unemployment rates or wage rates of low-skilled natives and prior immigrants or the ways that employers organize their work force?
  • How does labor force participation differ by nativity, year of immigration, country of origin and gender? Do increases in family income, local and national labor market conditions, or education have the same effect on labor force participation for immigrant and native low-wage women? Does country of origin, year of immigration, religion, culture, or language fluency affect labor force participation in the same ways for immigrant men and women?
  • Have geographical areas with high rates of immigration changed the funding or budget share for various types of government services (K-12 education, law enforcement, social services, housing, etc.) compared to similar areas with low rates of immigration? How about areas with high vs. low rates of change in immigration? How does immigration affect the tax base of state and local governments? What impact does the skill level of immigrants have on these places?
  • How do immigrants gain access to social services? Do social service agencies treat immigrants as a “special category”, steer immigrants to immigrant-serving agencies, mainstream them into their regular practices, or exclude them, formally or informally? Does this help or hurt immigrants relative to natives?
  • What influences the willingness of local and state governments to accommodate or penalize undocumented immigrants in the provision driver's licenses, college tuition, or other services? What are the mechanisms by which immigrants become integrated into the local economy, schools and communities?

The NPC seeks to fund original analyses that use either qualitative or quantitative data sources.

Terms of Funding

1. Applicants for NPC grants must hold a Ph.D. or equivalent academic degree by July 1, 2009. Preference will be given to non-tenured researchers with full-time academic appointments and researchers using new approaches and innovative research methods. University of Michigan faculty and postdoctoral fellows and recipients of previous NPC small grants are ineligible for funding.
2. Grants may start between May 1, 2009 and July 1, 2009. Grants will end one year from the start date. A final report will be due no later than August 27, 2010. No-cost extensions will not be allowed.
3. These awards will only be made as personal services contracts to one or more individual researchers; the NPC will not contract with the grantees’ employers or any other organization.
4. The NPC will fund reasonable research expenses, specifically: up to two months of summer salary for each investigator (for those not receiving summer salary from their employers), data or software purchases, research assistance, research-related travel, and relevant supplies, to a maximum of $17,500. Budgets should include funds to travel to Ann Arbor, MI, for a one-day conference in April 2010.
5. The NPC will fund direct costs only; we will not provide indirect cost recovery (overhead).
6. Grant recipients must submit a progress report by October 15, 2009 and attend a grantee’s conference in Ann Arbor, MI in April 2010 to present draft papers and receive input from NPC-affiliated senior scholars. The proposed budget should include travel costs related to this one-day conference.

Selection Criteria

Applications will be evaluated by senior scholars affiliated with the NPC and by staff from the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE) at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Proposals will be evaluated based upon several factors, including:

  • The quality of the research design, including the appropriate research methodology and data;
  • The feasibility of the proposed study to be completed during a one-year period;
  • The use of new data sources or innovative use of existing data;
  • The policy significance of the proposed analyses in terms of extending knowledge;
  • The value of small-grant funding to the career development of the investigator and to successful project completion.

Application Instructions

Please submit 6 printed copies of the following (We will not accept faxed or e-mailed applications):

1. A cover sheet with:
  • The title of the proposed research
  • The investigators’ name and institutional affiliation with mailing address, email address, phone and fax numbers
  • If the proposed research involves more than one investigator, a principal investigator (PI) must be identified. All correspondence will be with the PI.
2. A one-page abstract describing the study’s specific aims, data and methods, and policy significance.
3. A project narrative of 7–10 double-spaced pages (excluding figures and references). The narrative should (1) clearly describe specific aims and their research and policy significance, (2) very briefly summarize the relevant literature, (3) present major hypotheses, (4) fully describe the research design, proposed methodology and data sources, (5) indicate how the proposed analyses will address the research and policy questions. Long literature reviews should not be submitted. Particular emphasis should be given to items (3), (4) and (5).
4. An itemized budget and a budget narrative that explains each line item. Awards will only be made as personal services contracts to one or more individual researchers (we will not contract with universities, colleges or other research organizations).

Please detail each funding item requested. Appropriate research expenses include:
  • Research assistance
  • Up to 2 months of summer salary for each investigator at the investigators’ current salary level (for those not receiving summer salary from their employers)
  • Travel
  • Purchase of data or software or pertinent supplies
5. A project timeline listing specific milestones for study completion. The timeline must be within the period from May 1, 2009 through August 27, 2010.
6. Curriculum vitae for all investigators.
7. Human subjects review approval (often a waiver in the case of secondary data analysis) is required for all projects before funding can be dispersed.

Timeline and important dates:

Application deadline February 2, 2009
Notification of awards April 15, 2009
Detailed progress report due October 15, 2009
Researchers present drafts at NPC conference in Ann Arbor April 2010, TBA
Final report due no later than August 27, 2010

Contact information

Applications should be sent to:

National Poverty Center
Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy
Weill Hall, Suite 5100
735 South State Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48109-3091
ATTN: 2008 Small Grants Program

Direct questions to:

Shawn Marie Pelak
Program Manager
National Poverty Center
Phone: 734-615-3890
Email: spelak@umich.edu

Funds for this competition are provided by the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE) at the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services.