Community-Engaged Independent Work

Independent research can provide useful information to nonprofits and the communities they serve. Through the Barfield Fund for Community-Engaged Independent Work, NJ Alliance for Clinical and Translational Science, and other sources, ProCES funds research conducted in partnership with communities and nonprofit organizations. While the student's home department may serve as the primary funder for independent research, ProCES can provide support as an additional funder. Typically, funding supports work carried out between the Fall and Spring semesters of the senior year or over the summer prior to senior year. 

Explore Ideas

To give you some examples of the possibilities for community-engaged independent work, you can review prize-winning, community-engaged student theses, or contact Tara Carr-Lemke [email protected] for examples of community-based research specific to your discipline.

ProCES staff can speak with you to discuss your community-based senior thesis research ideas, to introduce you to a partner organization whose work is related to your interests, or to provide advice as you develop community partnerships of your own (see "consultation period" below). Contact Tania Boster [email protected] or Tara Carr-Lemke at [email protected] to discuss further.

Apply for Funding

If you plan to conduct community-engaged research, you may apply for funding to cover research-related expenses like housing, transportation, food, or participant incentives. Students can identify funding opportunities and submit applications through the Student Activities Funding Engine (SAFE).

Successful applications will describe the community partner’s participation in the design and/or implementation of the research project. The partner organization should be more than a site for research: the project should be informed by or inform the organization's work, support its goals, and center the experiences of communities impacted by the issue(s) under examination. Applications are evaluated based on the following criteria:

  • Plan for involvement of community partners: The plan for involvement of community partners is clearly described, and it is obvious that the proposed activities or modes of inquiry are community-focused. Partners will not be only a site for research —they will be helping to drive the design and/or implementation of the research. The frequency of direct engagement between the student and community partner is not as critical as the quality of the input and engagement.
  • Goals and products: The goals of the project and anticipated community outcomes are clearly stated. Significant products are described (e.g. presentation of key findings to community stakeholders, production of a white paper, participation in a juried show, submission of a grant proposal, etc.).
  • Logistical considerations: Site is approved for travel; project is feasible in the timeline proposed; budget is accurate considering research requirements.

Please note: ProCES does not fund laboratory work. It only funds hospital-based work when applicants can connect their work to a local community organization.  Transcription services or payment to individuals for services rendered (except for participants) are not eligible for funding. Both virtual and in-person research projects are currently eligible, assuming compliance with University travel protocols.

If your research involves overnight travel outside of the New York City and Philadelphia metropolitan corridor, you must obtain travel approval through the Enroll My Trip platform (EMT) at least three days before travel. For questions related to EMT or University travel guidelines, please visit the Travel Enrollment or Travel Guidelines pages.  

See the general timeline for applications below.


Fall 2022 

Winter/Spring 2023 

Summer 2023 

Consultation period


October 4 - November 28, 2022

February 1 - March 15, 2023

Application opens 


October 31, 2022

February 20, 2023

Application closes


November 28, 2022

March 22, 2023

Funding decisions sent


December 14, 2022

April 14, 2023

Funding period


December 19, 2022 - April 28, 2023

May 15 - September 5, 2023

Nominate Your Thesis for a Prize 

If you complete community-engaged independent work, consider submitting your senior thesis to the Dean Hank Dobin Prize in Community-Based Independent Work. Students in all disciplines are welcome to apply; you do not need to have received ProCES funding or support to be eligible for the Prize.