The Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) plans to award up to $25 million in fiscal year 2021 as part of the Eugene Washington PCORI Engagement Awards. These awards are for research support projects. This program does not fund research studies.

The Eugene Washington PCORI Engagement Awards support projects that encourage active, meaningful involvement of patients, caregivers, clinicians, and other healthcare stakeholders as integral members of the patient-centered outcomes research/comparative clinical effectiveness research (PCOR/CER) enterprise.

The Engagement Award: Dissemination Initiative will give organizations and communities the opportunity to propose active dissemination projects aimed at spreading awareness and increasing knowledge of new evidence from PCORI-funded research, targeted directly to patients, clinicians, communities, and others who can use this information to inform healthcare decisions.

Key Information for the Engagement Awards April 2021 Funding Cycle:

  • Applicants for an Engagement Award: Dissemination Initiative will be required to focus their project on one of two tracks—Building Capacity for Dissemination or Active Disseminationand will self-select the track at the time of LOI submission.
  • Applicants must complete the Engagement Award: Dissemination Initiative LOI Supplemental Template and upload the file to PCORI Online at the time of LOI submission.
  • If invited to submit a full proposal, applicants will be directed to complete a Project Workplan and Timeline template specific to the selected Engagement Award: Dissemination Initiative funding track.
  • Applicants should consider alternative plans for any convening activities within the project, should an in-person meeting not be feasible. Please consult PCORI’s Applicant and Awardee FAQs Related to COVID-19 to ensure your proposed project adheres to PCORI’s guidance related to applicant pre-award concerns.
  • PCORI is aware that there is an evolving context around the COVID-19 pandemic. We are committed to working with awardees to adapt projects and processes to the evolving context during this time so that deliverables are implemented fully as per the executed contract.

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Key Dates

Online System Opens
February 1, 2021, 12:00 AM
Letter of Intent Deadline
April 1, 2021, 12:00 AM
Application Deadline
July 12, 2021, 12:00 AM

Funds and Project Period

Total Costs

Award total costs may not exceed $250,000 (Direct + Indirect Costs)

Maximum Project Period

2 years

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Research Fundamentals: Preparing You to Successfully Contribute to Research (A free on-demand training package on PCORI.org)

I. General Requirements

This section includes language that is specific to PCORI’s requirements for programmatic responsiveness under this funding announcement. Applicants should use this section as guidance when preparing their LOIs and applications. For information related to administrative and technical requirements for LOI and application submission, please consult the Engagement Award Submission Instructions.

Engagement Award Priorities

The Engagement Award program supports PCORI’s Engagement Imperative—defined in our Strategic Plan—and provides a platform to increase engagement in research, that is, the meaningful involvement of patients, caregivers, clinicians, and other healthcare stakeholders throughout the research process. We expect projects selected for an Engagement Award to result in tools and resources that may be useful to other awardees for increasing patient and/or other stakeholder engagement in PCOR/CER, PCORI, and the broader PCOR community. We are committed to using and broadly sharing this information. Please see the PCORI Engagement Tool and Resource Repository for examples of what this can look like.

Categories of Nonresponsiveness

LOIs and applications will be considered nonresponsive for an Engagement Award if they propose:

  • Projects solely intended to increase patient engagement in healthcare or healthcare systems rather than healthcare research
  • Projects to design or test healthcare interventions
  • Activities that involve the use of a drug or medical device
  • Development of clinical practice guidelines, care protocols, or decision support tools
  • Development of coverage, payment, or policy recommendations or guidelines
  • Projects related to quality measures, quality improvement, or engagement around quality measures
  • Projects to recruit and enroll patients for clinical trials
  • Projects that only involve patients as subjects (individuals enrolled into a study as participants)
  • Research studies including randomized controlled trials, observational studies, and pragmatic clinical studies
  • Development or maintenance of a registry, or recruitment to participate in a registry
  • Projects designed solely to validate tools or instruments not created through a PCORI-funded project
  • Writing research proposals or completing grant applications, grantmaking
  • Projects focused solely on social determinants of health, with no focus on patient-centered outcomes research/comparative clinical effectiveness research (PCOR/CER)
  • Planning for dissemination or dissemination initiatives without including PCORI-funded research or related products
  • Implementation of PCORI findings in a clinical practice setting (PCORI funds dedicated implementation efforts through the Limited PCORI Funding Announcement: Implementation of PCORI-Funded Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Results)
  • Projects or meetings without a clear focus on patient-centered outcomes research/comparative clinical effectiveness research (PCOR/CER)

Avoiding Redundancy

PCORI encourages potential applicants to review funded projects at pcori.org. We intend to balance our funded portfolio to achieve synergy and avoid redundancy where possible.

Required Education of Key Personnel on the Protection of Human Subject Participants

PCORI requires that all applicants adhere to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) policy on education in the protection of human subject participants. This applies to all individuals listed as key personnel in the application. The policy and FAQs are available on the NIH website.

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II. Dissemination Initiative

The Engagement Award Program is now accepting Letters of Intent (LOI) for the Engagement Award: Dissemination Initiative, a research support—not research—funding opportunity, for projects up to two years in duration, and up to $250,000 in total costs.

  • For the April 2021 Engagement Awards Funding Cycle, the contract start date should be planned for no earlier than December 1, 2021, and no later than May 1, 2022.

Funding Priorities

The dissemination of research findings to targeted end users is an important part of promoting the uptake of these findings into policy and practice. In many cases, the role of a “trusted source” in raising awareness of new evidence or placing it in an appropriate context is critical to enabling the uptake of this evidence into practice. This Engagement Award initiative focuses on supporting organizations that are trusted sources for their patient, professional, or other community, to undertake dissemination activities.

Award funds are intended to allow organizations and communities to plan for, or actively bring relevant PCORI-funded research findings to end users in ways that will command their attention and interest, encouraging use of this information in their healthcare decision making. For example, patients may use information to decide on a treatment; community members may use evidence to decide on wellness approaches; clinicians may use research findings to update their recommendations or discussions with patients; or clinic administrators may use evidence to choose among peer-support programs.

Dissemination projects should target end users directly, although the focus of the dissemination activity may be on an intermediary. For example, training of providers who will communicate information to patients is within the scope of a dissemination activity.

Applicants for an Engagement Award: Dissemination Initiative will be required to focus their project on one of two tracks—Building Capacity for Dissemination or Active Disseminationand will self-select the focus at the time of LOI submission.

Defining Dissemination:

  • For this funding announcement, we define dissemination as the intentional, active process of identifying target audiences and tailoring communication strategies to increase awareness and understanding of evidence and to motivate its use in practice, policy, or individual choices.
  • For this funding announcement, efforts must focus on capacity building to, or increasing knowledge and awareness among, a substantial group of targeted end users—not simply creating materials that could be used for this purpose. Material creation is supported under this mechanism but should not be the main focus of proposed projects, nor should they command the primary use or allocation of personnel, time, effort, or budget.
  • See PCORI’s Dissemination and Implementation Framework and Toolkit for context around how this opportunity fits into the broader effort of encouraging the use of PCORI evidence in individual decision making, policy, and practice.

Funding Tracks

The Engagement Award: Dissemination Initiative will give organizations and communities the opportunity to propose either:

a) Building Capacity for Dissemination projects to lay the groundwork for disseminating and implementing PCORI-funded evidence through organizations with strong ties to end-user audiences, such as patients, clinicians, communities, and others who can use this information to inform healthcare decisions. Projects may focus on partnership development and understanding stakeholder interests, strengthening the infrastructure and relationships necessary for active dissemination of PCORI-funded evidence. This may include developing, demonstrating, and evaluating the processes, pathways, or tools necessary to incorporate PCOR/CER results into decision making.

or

b) Active Dissemination projects aimed at spreading awareness and increasing knowledge of PCORI-funded evidence, targeted directly to end-user audiences, such as patients, clinicians, communities, and others who can use this information to inform healthcare decisions. Projects will be designed by organizations and communities with established relationships with end users to actively disseminate the findings from PCORI-funded studies—on their own or as part of the body of existing evidence relevant to the PCORI-funded research findings.

The following table summarizes the distinctions between the two funding tracks. Details regarding each track are included later in this document.

  Building Capacity for Dissemination Active Dissemination
Opportunity  Projects that lay the groundwork for disseminating and implementing PCORI-funded evidence through organizations with strong ties to end-user audiences, such as patients, clinicians, communities, and others who can use this information to inform healthcare decisions. Projects aimed at spreading awareness and increasing knowledge of PCORI-funded evidence, targeted directly to end-user audiences, such as patients, clinicians, communities, and others who can use this information to inform healthcare decisions.

Potential Activities

Activities should focus on developing, demonstrating, and evaluating the processes/pathways/tools necessary to incorporate PCOR/CER results into decision-making settings.

Examples of pathways to capacity building include but are not limited to: establishing learning collaboratives that will support a dissemination effort, or working through cross-organization collaborations to develop the plans and commitments required for an effective dissemination initiative.

Activities should focus on leveraging pre-existing relationships with targeted end users to ensure that research results are disseminated through the appropriate pathways for optimal utilization.

Examples of pathways to actively disseminate include but are not limited to: targeted social media campaigns, communities of faith, research networks, state or regional collaboratives, association communications.
Evidence Requirements Applicants must identify an area of PCORI’s existing or emerging PCOR/CER findings highly relevant to their target population and in alignment with their organization/institution’s goals. Research results should also be placed within the context of the existing body of evidence in the topic area identified.

All eligible PCORI-funded evidence proposed must have been published in a peer-reviewed journal (primary CER results) or completed and posted on PCORI’s website (systematic reviews and evidence updates) by the LOI receipt date.

Applicants should closely review the section “Evidence Eligible for Active Dissemination Projects” below and contact the Engagement Award program at [email protected] for questions regarding evidence eligibility.
Successful Applications Will Include See list here See list here

Related Opportunities

The Engagement Award: Dissemination Initiative offers a broader, stakeholder-initiated opportunity to build capacity for dissemination or actively disseminate an increasing number of findings, drawing on the experience and expertise of organizations and communities in reaching specific end users of information and in capitalizing on a history of trust. It complements a body of activity occurring within PCORI’s Dissemination and Implementation (D&I) program.

PCORI’s D&I program is charged with promoting the uptake and use of PCORI-funded research in practice to support patients, caregivers, clinicians, and other stakeholders in making informed health decisions. As such, the program offers several award opportunities—in both dissemination and implementation—which some applicants may be eligible to pursue. For information about D&I program award opportunities and explanation of distinctions between the Engagement Award: Dissemination Initiative and Dissemination Projects awarded through the D&I program, please visit PCORI’s Dissemination Related Funding Opportunities web page.

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III. Building Capacity for Dissemination

Building Capacity for Dissemination Strategies

Strategies proposed for Building Capacity for Dissemination of PCORI results will vary based on the results being disseminated, the groups identified as end users of the information, and the goals of the dissemination effort. PCORI intends for these projects to focus on strengthening the infrastructure and relationships necessary to actively disseminate and implement research results, products, or programs tested within PCORI-funded or related studies. Project activities may include developing, demonstrating, and evaluating the processes/pathways/tools necessary to incorporate PCOR/CER results into decision-making settings.

For these types of projects, applicants must identify an area of PCORI’s existing or emerging PCOR/CER findings highly relevant to their target population and in alignment with their organization/institution’s goals. Research results should also be placed within the context of the existing body of evidence in the topic area identified.

Applicants must clearly explain how the infrastructure and relationships developed to disseminate and implement PCOR/CER could be sustained over time, and the organization’s commitment to future active dissemination. Additionally, applicants should indicate whether the project may have the potential to be scaled to reach an even greater audience or if it could be a vehicle for disseminating and implementing additional PCOR/CER findings.

Submitting a Successful Building Capacity for Dissemination Application

Successful Building Capacity for Dissemination applications will include:

  • A completed Engagement Award: Dissemination Initiative LOI Supplemental Template.
  • Alternative plans for any convening activities within the project, should an in-person meeting not be feasible. Please consult PCORI’s Applicant and Awardee FAQs Related to COVID-19 to ensure your proposed project adheres to PCORI’s guidance related to applicant pre-award concerns.
    • PCORI is aware that there is an evolving context around the COVID-19 pandemic. We are committed to working with awardees to adapt projects and processes to the evolving context during this time so that deliverables are implemented fully as per the executed contract.
  • A clearly identified topic or condition area and population targeted for future dissemination of PCORI’s completed PCOR/CER studies. Please consult PCORI’s website to review PCOR/CER topics and conditions addressed by PCORI-funded studies.
  • Rationale that there is a need for additional patient and/or stakeholder capacity to disseminate PCOR/CER and why the population proposed as the target for future dissemination is important for PCORI to reach.
  • A clear pathway between the proposed project and dissemination and/or implementation activities enabled by this project. These activities may include those demonstrated within the project or those planned as the focus of specific future dissemination or implementation efforts.
  • The intended impact of the proposed project.  
  • The organization’s relationship to the population and/or context, and track record in engagement. 
  • Commitment from the patient and/or stakeholder communities to be involved in the project, and clear patient and/or stakeholder involvement/leadership in all stages of the project from LOI development to dissemination of project results. 
  • Evaluation metrics for assessing the success of the capacity building strategy.
  • Plans for sustainability/next steps after the project period has ended. Future funding from PCORI should not be assumed. If the project does not lend itself to sustained activities after the project period concludes, provide justification.
  • If using or adopting a PCORI-funded research or engagement tool or resource:
    • Description of the tool(s) or resource(s) selected and justification for its continued and expanded use. Provide information about prior use/implementation of the tool(s) or resource(s), including any data on its effectiveness.
    • Approval to use and, if applicable, adapt tool(s) and resource(s) from the relevant copyright owner of the tool(s) and/or resource(s) in the form of a written letter of support with the full proposal submission. This will typically be from the awardee institution of the original PCORI award. The relevant owner must grant the applicant rights to the tool(s)/resource(s) sufficient to carry out the project.

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IV. Active Dissemination

Active Dissemination Strategies

Strategies proposed for disseminating PCORI results will vary based on the results being disseminated, the groups identified as key users of the information, and the goals of the dissemination effort. Systematic reviews of research on dissemination have outlined a range of dissemination approaches that accomplish these goals (McCormack et al., 2013). These include strategies to:

  • Increase the reach of evidence. These strategies purposefully distribute evidence to different targeted audiences and settings to increase the reach of information using different communication channels, such as mail, email, phone, text message, TV, radio, print, social media, webinar, and mobile apps.
  • Increase people’s motivation to use and apply evidence. These strategies focus on increasing interest in the evidence among targeted audiences and within targeted settings, using local champions, community leaders or groups, thought leaders or groups, or experts to actively endorse or promote the evidence being disseminated.
  • Increase people’s ability to use and apply evidence. These strategies enhance people’s ability to understand, use, and apply evidence, generally providing additional resources (how-to materials, training, etc.) relevant to the evidence.

These types of strategies may be used together—in combination or in sequence—to increase the reach of evidence and motivate and facilitate its use (with “reach” contextualized as best as possible so that the overall impact is clear to application reviewers). Successful applicants will draw upon these approaches, as well as on their own experience and creativity, in proposing dissemination strategies most likely to be successful with their target audience. Equal consideration will be given to novel approaches—such as contests and challenges promoting awareness—if relevant for a particular target audience and accompanied by a sound rationale.

This funding opportunity is intended to support the active dissemination of findings; PCORI will not support projects that propose passive, untailored, and untargeted dissemination strategies, such as untargeted mass mailing, publication of study findings, and untargeted presentations to heterogeneous groups.

Evidence Eligible for Active Dissemination Projects

The intent of an Active Dissemination project is to disseminate the results of PCORI-funded studies. Only the following sources of PCORI-funded evidence may serve as the basis for dissemination activities under this award:

  • PCORI-funded Comparative Clinical Effectiveness Research (CER) Results. Papers published in a peer-reviewed journal resulting from PCORI-funded research studies that present primary comparative clinical effectiveness research results.
    • Note: This link goes to a pre-filtered list of published primary CER results. Only those papers already listed on the page, included under the filters in place, are eligible. Please do not reset the filters on the results.
  • PCORI-funded Systematic Reviews and Systematic Review Updates. Evidence around specific clinical questions by analyzing published and unpublished results from all relevant studies on a given topic.
  • PCORI Evidence Updates. Briefs highlighting some of the important research findings from PCORI-funded projects in a plain-language format for patients and other stakeholders.

All eligible PCORI-funded evidence proposed for active dissemination must have been published in a peer-reviewed journal (primary CER results) or completed and posted on PCORI’s website (systematic reviews and evidence updates) by the LOI submission deadline.

Active Dissemination applicants must identify the title(s) of the completed PCORI-funded research study (including the institution name and Principal Investigator (PI) name for identification purposes, the hyperlink from PCORI’s website, and the specific evidence that will be the focus of the dissemination initiative) in the LOI and application.

  • All Active Dissemination applicants must also include as part of their application (if invited) acknowledgment and/or support from the PI—or another member of the original research team who played a significant role—of each PCORI-funded study whose published primary CER findings are being disseminated in the project, demonstrated by additional written letters of support (applicable for the dissemination of CER study results only).
  • Please contact the Engagement Award program at [email protected] for questions regarding evidence eligibility.

Evidence Suitability

Prior to proposing evidence for dissemination under this funding opportunity, please review study details and findings closely for applicability, relevance, and potential impact of dissemination to your stakeholders. Consider what the key messages for dissemination are and be sure to include those in your application. Compatibility between the key messages from the study and the proposed project concept and population are a critical element of a successful application.

Submitting a Successful Active Dissemination Application

Successful Active Dissemination applications will include:

  • Only eligible evidence for dissemination as defined under the section “Evidence Eligible for Active Dissemination Projects” above.
  • A completed Engagement Award: Dissemination Initiative LOI Supplemental Template.
  • Alternative plans for any convening activities within the project, should an in-person meeting not be feasible. Please consult PCORI’s Applicant and Awardee FAQs Related to COVID-19 to ensure your proposed project adheres to PCORI’s guidance related to applicant pre-award concerns.
    • PCORI is aware that there is an evolving context around the COVID-19 pandemic. We are committed to working with awardees to adapt projects and processes to the evolving context during this time so that deliverables are implemented fully as per the executed contract.
  • For proposed evidence for dissemination, a critical review of the study details and findings for applicability, relevance, and potential impact of dissemination to your stakeholders.
  • Commitment from the patient and/or stakeholder communities to be involved in the project, and clear patient and/or stakeholder involvement/leadership in all stages of the project from LOI development to dissemination of project results. 
  • Why the end users proposed as the target for dissemination are important for PCORI to reach.
  • The organization’s relationship to the targeted end users, and its experience and track record in bringing evidence to them.
  • Which findings will be disseminated, and why the findings are relevant to the specific end users proposed as the target for dissemination.
  • The intended impact of uptake of these findings by the targeted end users.
  • The key messages and specific strategies proposed for dissemination to these end users, and justification of the choice of strategies.
  • The reach of the proposed strategies (i.e., the number of people in each targeted group whose awareness and knowledge of the evidence disseminated will be meaningfully increased).
    • “Reach” should be contextualized as best as possible so that the overall impact is clear to reviewers.
  • Evaluation metrics for assessing the success of the active dissemination strategies.
  • Plans for sustainability/next steps after the project period has ended. Future funding from PCORI should not be assumed. If the project does not lend itself to sustained activities after the project period concludes, provide justification.
  • Acknowledgment and/or support from the Principal Investigator (PI)—or another member of the original research team who played a significant role—of each PCORI-funded study whose published findings are being disseminated in the project, demonstrated by additional written letters of support (applicable for the dissemination of CER study results only).
  • If using or adopting a PCORI-funded research or engagement tool or resource:
    • Description of the tool(s) or resource(s) selected and justification for its continued and expanded use. Provide information about prior use/implementation of the tool(s) or resource(s), including any data on its effectiveness.
    • Approval to use and, if applicable, adapt tool(s) and resource(s) from the relevant copyright owner of the tool(s) and/or resource(s) in the form of a written letter of support with the full proposal submission. This will typically be from the awardee institution of the original PCORI award. The relevant owner must grant the applicant rights to the tool(s)/resource(s) sufficient to carry out the project.

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V. Project Evaluation

Applicants must include a completed Evaluation Reporting Tool as a deliverable at the end of the project period. The Evaluation Reporting Tool provides a template to collect information about Engagement Awards that can help with evaluation of our portfolio, as well as evaluation of individual projects. This reporting tool should be taken into consideration during proposal development and uploaded at the end of the project period with the Final Deliverable Milestone. Awardees may use a different evaluation framework if there is one that is more aligned with their project proposal, subject to PCORI approval. Applicants adopting such an approach must identify the proposed alternate evaluation framework in their application.

The goal of this reporting tool is to ensure a standard set of reported information for Engagement Awards. Given the difficulty in applying metrics and a standard set of indicators around engagement best practices, this tool provides a baseline of outcomes to report on in Engagement Award projects.

At a minimum, evaluation plans should document the reach (in absolute numbers) of their dissemination effort among the targeted end users and settings. Depending on the project, it will also be appropriate to document dissemination success, such as increases in knowledge or awareness of evidence among the target population. Dissemination projects aiming to increase motivation, use, and application of evidence should propose appropriate evaluation strategies for understanding the extent to which these goals were accomplished, using validated measures where available in, for example, pre- and post-tests, surveys, or interviews.

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VI. Review Process

Letters of Intent (LOI) must be submitted by the stated deadline. LOIs will be screened for responsiveness to the call for applications and fit to program goals. PCORI will review LOIs within 60 calendar days of submission. Full proposal submissions are by invitation only, after review and approval of the LOI.

A full proposal, submitted upon invitation only, must be submitted by the stated deadline. PCORI may request additional information from the applicant after the initial review of the full proposal. PCORI aims to provide a final programmatic approval decision on the full proposal, via email, within 90 calendar days of the submission deadline. If the full proposal is programmatically approved, a PCORI staff member will coordinate arrangements to begin budgetary review and contracting negotiations. Typically, contract negotiations take about six-to-eight weeks.

To select high-quality patient-centered projects, PCORI’s Engagement and Contract Management and Administration teams, and internal and external subject-matter experts (as necessary) will review all LOIs and applications.

Review Criteria:

  1. Program Fit
  2. Project Plan and Timeline
  3. Qualifications of the Project Lead, Personnel, and Organizational Capabilities
  4. Patient and Stakeholder Engagement Plan and Collaborators
  5. Past Performance
  6. Budget/Cost Proposal

For additional details on the review process, click here.

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VII. How to Apply

  1. Read the full funding announcement
  2. Follow the process outlined in the Submission Instructions
  3. Submit a Letter of Intent (LOI)
  4. Submit an Application (if invited)

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VIII. Applicant Resources

April 2021 Cycle Resources

  • Applicant Webinar: Thursday, February 4, 2021 (Recorded; Registration is not necessary)
  • Applicant Office Hours: Wednesday, February 17, 2021 - 12:00 pm to 01:00 pm EST
  • Submission Instructions

Preparing Your LOI

  • Dissemination Initiative PFA (PDF)
  • Submission Instructions
  • Submission Checklist
  • Dissemination Initiative LOI Question Guide
  • Applicant FAQs
  • PCORI Online: Pre-award User Guides
  • PCORI Online: Pre-award Cheat Sheet – LOI Submission
  • Review Process

Required LOI Templates

  • Dissemination Initiative LOI Supplemental Template

Preparing Your Application

  • Dissemination Initiative PFA (PDF)
  • Submission Instructions
  • Submission Checklist
  • Applicant FAQs
  • PCORI Online: Pre-award User Guides
  • PCORI Online: Pre-award Cheat Sheet – Application Submission
  • Review Process

Required Application Templates

  • Biosketch Template
  • Budget Template (Two-Year Project)
  • Budget Justification Template (Two-Year Project)
  • Milestone/Deliverable Table Template (Two-Year Project)
  • Project Workplan and Timeline (Dissemination Initiative - Building Capacity for Dissemination Track)
  • Project Workplan and Timeline (Dissemination Initiative - Active Dissemination Track)
  • Board of Directors Template

Additional Applicant Resources

  • Funded Projects Portfolio: Engagement in Research
  • Evaluation Reporting Tool Template (For Awarded Projects)
  • Glossary
  • Cost Principles: Description of Allowable Direct Costs under a PCORI Award
  • Standard Contracts for Engagement Award Projects

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IX. Questions?

If you have any additional questions, please contact PCORI at [email protected] or (202) 370-9312. PCORI will provide a response within three business days.

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