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Rural Research Engagement and Advancement Fund

The Rural Research Engagement and Advancement Fund (RREAF) is a new internal seed funding program for community-academic partnerships serving rural North Carolina. RREAF directly supports several of the strategic initiatives described in Carolina Next, and is a step toward addressing the critical need for research partnership support for community-engaged faculty. 

2024 applications are closed. Interested parties can review the full details below or view the RREAF Call for Application PDF in preparation for 2025.

Example of community-academic partnership for Rural Research Engagement and Advancement Fund. In this photo, Gina Hofert, SUN Project manager, demonstrates complications traditionally found with patient intake processes.

2024 Rural Research Engagement and Advancement Fund Call for Applications

The Rural Research Engagement and Advancement Fund (RREAF) is co-offered by UNC Rural and UNC Research and promotes community-academic partnerships based in rural North Carolina, supporting a wide range of engagement endeavors, including but not limited to:

  • Research
  • Technical assistance
  • Community leadership development
  • Capacity building
  • Innovative internships
  • Service-learning projects
  • Collaborative programs

RREAF is part of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s strategic plan and UNC Research’s campus-wide pilot funding portfolio, furthering the University’s pre-eminence as a national and world-renowned leader in foundational research, creative practice, and the translation of research into social settings. This program aims to support a range of sustainable rural community-academic engagement efforts to encourage creativity, community-led goal setting, and meaningful partnerships to broaden UNC-Chapel Hill’s scope of “rural engagement” and capture learning as the University continues in its mission to serve North Carolina more effectively, particularly rural areas. Award recipients and their community partners will be encouraged but not required to participate in engaged scholarship workshops, trainings, and events offered by UNC Rural, UNC Research, or other university partners. In addition, award recipients may be given the opportunity to partner with university personnel to grow pilot projects into sustainable programs.

Rural Research Engagement and Advancement (RREAF) Eligibility

Funds will provide support to projects led by individuals or teams of UNC faculty or staff who are working in collaboration with communities in rural North Carolina (see defined rural areas here).

RREAF Funding

Awards will range from $10,000 to $15,000, to be used within one full year from the date of award. Award recipients will be notified in March 2024 and the anticipated start date is April 1, 2024.

How To Apply

Faculty of any rank or leadership staff of UNC centers, institutes, or projects may submit up to two-page project descriptions that describe:

  • Place, project, and relevance to the State and community
  • Listing of key local community partners and brief history of community-academic partnership
  • Plans to evaluate performance
  • Any major goals for use of funding along with potential future project directions.
  • Brief financial narrative. Funding for this program may include participation of third parties, contingent upon normal subaward/subrecipient.
  • Accompanying letter of support from community collaborators (at least one letter per project should be included but all current and identified community partners should be listed in project description).

To be considered, please return these materials in PDF format by 11:59 PM on January 31, 2024 to UNC Rural.

Review & Evaluation Criteria

UNC Rural and ORD will manage and provide guidance and oversight of the review process including selection of a panel who will review and rank all proposals on the following:

  • Community impact
  • Demonstrated or potential community-campus partnership
  • Demonstrated ambition or intellectual promise
  • Project design and feasibility
  • If applicable, the likelihood that the project will position an applicant for external funding

Terms & Conditions of Award

  • Research involving human subjects, such as surveys, or other compliance issues must be reviewed in accordance with the University’s policies. Once approved, copies of approval letters must be submitted to UNC Rural. An award is tentative until all compliance approvals have been obtained.
  • The award period is 1 year. No-cost extensions are allowable with proper justification and approval from the RREAF team. Unexpended funds will revert to UNC Rural and ORD.
  • Internal grant funds cannot generally be used for payment of costs incurred prior to the date of the award. Special cases must be approved prior to applying and will only be granted for costs incurred up to 90 days prior to being awarded.
  • All expenditures, including procurement of supplies and travel authorizations, must adhere to general policies of the University.
  • A final report is due to UNC Rural at the project’s conclusion. This report should be submitted at the end of the grant period, at the end of any extension granted, or prior to departure if the investigator should leave the University.


The publication of the results of research projects supported by a grant from the RREAF should carry a printed acknowledgment of financial assistance from UNC Research and UNC Rural. ORD and UNC Rural should receive a single copy of each such publication.

RREAF Questions

For all questions related to this program, please contact UNC Rural using the button below.