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: Stakeholder Convening Support offers funding for multi-stakeholder convenings, meetings, and conferences that align with PCORI’s mission and facilitate expansion of PCOR/CER through collaboration around such efforts.

Within this announcement, we express a special area of interest in maternal morbidity and mortality. Please see below for further detail. In addition, PCORI accepts and welcomes Engagement Award: Stakeholder Convening Support LOIs on all topics related to bringing together diverse stakeholders to explore issues related to PCOR/CER, or communicate PCORI-funded research results to targeted end-user audiences that fall within the guidelines of the program.-

Key Information for the Engagement Awards April 2021 Funding Cycle:

  • 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.

Download Full Announcement

Key Dates

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

Funds and Project Period

Total Costs

Award total costs may not exceed $100,000 (Direct + Indirect Costs)

Maximum Project Period

1 year

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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 for Engagement Awards

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. Stakeholder Convening Support

The Engagement Award Program is now accepting Letters of Intent (LOI) for the Engagement Award: Stakeholder Convening Support, a research support—not research—funding opportunity, for projects up to one year in duration, and up to $100,000 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

Through this award, PCORI seeks to fund projects designed by organizations and communities to hold multi-stakeholder convenings, meetings, and conferences that include a combination of patients, caregivers, researchers, clinicians, purchasers, payers, health system leaders, and/or other stakeholders. PCORI is receptive to LOIs and applications encompassing a wide range of research support project topics. These convenings must have a focus on, and commitment to, supporting collaboration around PCOR/CER. 

Convenings supported under this funding opportunity should be designed with the active involvement of patients, community groups, and/or other stakeholder organizations. Projects should bring together diverse stakeholders around a central focus or shared priority that unifies stakeholders (e.g., geography, health condition, population) to explore issues related to PCOR/CER, or communicate PCORI-funded research results to targeted end-user audiences.

Potential Convening Focus Areas

All convenings, regardless of topic, should include one or more of the following priority/focus areas:

  • Facilitating Discussion Around Development of Research Topics, Questions, and Engagement Plans for Patient-Centered Outcomes Research
    • Addresses issues of major importance in the field of PCOR/CER engagement or facilitates development of new approaches.
    • Explores or identifies potential topics for PCOR/CER with patients, caregivers, researchers, or other relevant stakeholders. Convening organizers must identify a clear audience for the topic identification exercise.
  • Sharing Engagement Methods and Fostering Partnerships
    • Transfers knowledge about effective and/or evidence-based engagement methods in PCOR/CER to wider audiences.
    • Fosters PCOR/CER-focused multi-stakeholder collaborations by developing partnerships for future engagement in PCOR/CER and/or exploring new opportunities for knowledge transfer, dissemination, and/or implementation.
  • Dissemination of Research Findings
    • Through a convening, communicates findings from PCORI-funded studies—on their own or as part of the body of existing evidence relevant to the PCORI-funded research findings—to a targeted, essential end-user audience. Convening organizers must address the proposed convening activities as part of an essential strategy for increasing the uptake of findings that have important potential impact on clinical practice, including the important role of the proposed target end-user audience.
    • Identifies studies of interest for dissemination and developing strategies for future targeted dissemination.
    • Promotes active dissemination of PCORI-funded research results to targeted end users to support the uptake of evidence.
    • Shares information about health condition- or population-specific areas in the PCORI-funded research portfolio (active or completed) to solicit feedback and suggestions for future research.
    • Unlike the dissemination opportunities offered under the Engagement Award: Dissemination Initiative funding announcement, dissemination under the Engagement Award: Stakeholder Convening Support funding announcement is focused principally on a convening or series of convenings as the primary method for communicating the research findings.

Stakeholder Involvement

A diverse array of relevant patient and community stakeholders who have a connection to, expertise in, or lived experience related to the focus area and PCOR/CER should attend the convenings, and projects should include integrated multi-stakeholder leadership and planning teams.

It is expected that representatives of stakeholder groups involved will be engaged throughout the duration of the project period including development of the proposal, planning the event, participating in the convening, evaluation, and dissemination. We also encourage applicants to identify PCORI awardees and/or project partners who can share the project and its results, as well as PCOR/CER and engagement strategies to further expand the network of stakeholders knowledgeable and equipped to participate in PCOR/CER efforts.

Letters of support from stakeholders are welcome and encouraged.

Project Outputs

All convenings must produce at least one deliverable that seeks to move collaborators closer to participation in and/or dissemination of PCOR/CER. In addition, applicants are expected to develop and share a summary of the convening that will provide direction for future action. Finally, it is expected that sustainability plans will be developed to further the goals/objectives developed through the convening. Some examples of appropriate deliverables are listed below:

  • Strategic plans and/or roadmaps for charting future directions and PCOR/CER priorities as related to the convening’s goals, objectives, and key findings
  • Stakeholder engagement approaches for continuing to actively engage in/partner around PCOR/CER beyond the project period
  • Summaries of research topic identification and/or prioritization processes, as well as research agendas
  • Reports of strategies for disseminating research findings and ensuring the effectiveness and success of proposed efforts

Related Opportunities

For applicants interested in projects to build capacity/skills for PCOR/CER on a larger scale and not centered around a convening, please see the Engagement Award: Capacity Building funding opportunity.

For applicants interested in projects focused on building capacity for disseminating and implementing PCORI-funded evidence, please see the Engagement Award: Dissemination Initiative funding opportunity.

Stakeholder convening projects as described in this PFA and related to the COVID-19 pandemic may be submitted under this announcement. However, if your project includes a stakeholder convening as a secondary element of a larger project focused on capacity building related to the COVID-19 pandemic, we suggest applicants consider the Engagement Award Special Cycle: Building Capacity for PCOR/CER for Topics Related to COVID-19. This Special PCORI Funding Announcement will support projects that enable organizations and community to develop their capacity and skills to participate across all phases of the PCOR/CER process on topics uniquely related to the COVID-19 pandemic. This PCORI Funding Announcement will open on March 1, 2021.

Stakeholder convening projects as described in this PFA and related to intellectual and developmental disabilities (IDD) may be submitted under this announcement. However, if your project includes a stakeholder convening as a secondary element of a larger project focused on building capacity and skills for PCOR/CER in IDD, we suggest applicants consider the Engagement Award Special Cycle: Building Capacity for PCOR/CER in Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities. This Special PCORI Funding Announcement will support projects to build capacity and skills for PCOR/CER in IDD, as well as projects to understand the impact of stakeholder engagement within different settings and stakeholder groups focused on this special area of interest. This PCORI Funding Announcement will open on March 1, 2021.

To discuss the funding announcement that best fits your project idea, please email [email protected].

Special Area of Interest: Maternal Morbidity and Mortality

Please Note: PCORI will accept and welcomes Engagement Award: Stakeholder Convening Support LOIs for convenings on any topic with a clear focus on and commitment to PCOR/CER that falls within the guidelines of the program.

PCORI’s reauthorizing legislation in 2019 included two new research priority areas, one of which centers on maternal mortality. This priority area provides more focused support for engaging diverse stakeholders and facilitating patient-centered outcomes research and comparative clinical effectiveness research (PCOR/(CER), which are critical for understanding and addressing the needs of those impacted by issues related to this topic. Because of our national priorities, LOIs focused on maternal morbidity and mortality are of particular interest to PCORI.

For organizations considering applying for an Engagement Award focused on topics related to maternal morbidity and mortality, please review the information available on the Engagement Awards Special Area of Interest: Maternal Morbidity and Mortality webpage.

Convening Around Dissemination of Research Findings: Evidence Available

The following sources of PCORI-funded evidence may serve as the basis for convening around dissemination of research findings 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 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 who plan to convene around dissemination of research findings 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 applicants who plan to convene around dissemination of research findings 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.

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.

Examples of Project Ideas

Examples of projects of interest include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • A convening of a consortium of institutions proficient in engagement methods to share their usage and adaptations and to train other institutions in the methodology. For example, institutions proficient in the engagement studio method may wish to hold a mock engagement studio with actual participants from previously held engagement studios as part of the training.  Deliverables produced include a report and any related resources (videos, tip sheets) on how they approached sharing and transferring knowledge about engagement methods to wider audiences, including methods for how knowledge transfer is evaluated with participants.
  • A convening of engagement coordinators on funded projects focused on preparing under-represented communities to participate as partners in research. For example, a coordinator of engagement activities for several funded studies focused on Latino health convenes a meeting with other engagement coordinators and their stakeholder partners to train them to lead future engagement efforts. Deliverables produced include proceedings and next steps (a road map)a facilitation guide for holding this type of discussion, recruitment/outreach guidance for gathering this type of group, train-the-trainer resources for replication in other stakeholder communities, and reflections on what went well/how this could be done better.
  • A convening of a group that specializes in engaging LGBTQA+ communities around health and research to plan for the dissemination of study results of interest. PCORI-funded researchers and stakeholder partners are invited, plus professional societies and payers. Deliverables produced include the topic/study prioritization processpresentation materials, activity guides for dissemination sessions(s), and train-the-trainer resources for replication in other stakeholder communities.
  • A convening of patients, clinicians, and regional representatives of medical societies and payer organizations located in a region or state to review findings from PCORI-funded studies and identify channels to promote dissemination and uptake. Three regional meetings with different local leaders are held within the area. Deliverables produced include the topic/study prioritization processpresentation materials, activity guides for dissemination sessions(s), and train-the-trainer resources for replication in other geographic regions.

To discuss your project idea and its fit with this funding announcement, please email [email protected].

Submitting a Successful Application

Successful applications will address the address the funding priorities described above and include:

  • 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.
  • The following required milestones/deliverables:
    • Convening Date
      • This milestone should be entered with the date of the planned convening. Enter multiple milestones if the proposed project has multiple convenings planned.
    • Draft Meeting Materials
      • This deliverable should be submitted one to three months prior to the convening. Draft meeting materials may include agendas, participant lists, and presentations.
    • Final Meeting Materials
      • This deliverable should be submitted at the time of the convening or during the month after the convening. Final meeting materials may include agendas, participant lists, and presentations.
    • Lay Conference Summary
      • This deliverable is required to be submitted within 90 days after the convening. The applicant is required to provide a two- to three-page meeting summary report, written in lay terms, for posting on the PCORI website.
    • All convenings must also produce at least one deliverable that seeks to move collaborators closer to participation in and/or dissemination of PCOR/CER.
  • 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 engagement 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.
  • 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.
  • If convening around dissemination of research findings:
    • Only eligible evidence for dissemination as defined under the section “Convening Around Dissemination of Research Findings: Evidence Available” above.
    • 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.
    • 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.
    • 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).

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III. Post Meeting: Project Evaluation and Sharing Findings

All proposed projects should detail a description and justification of the methods used to conduct the convening, as well as evaluation plans. PCORI offers a set of standardized metrics for all awardees under this initiative to consider for inclusion in their project plans (see Evaluation Reporting Tool) Supplementary evaluation focused on knowledge sharing and knowledge transfer is allowable and encouraged.

It is expected that efforts to share convening learnings and deliverables also will comprise all of the following dissemination-focused activities/considerations:

  • Strategies to distribute the outcomes of the meeting as well as any outputs developed as a result of the meeting within and beyond the contract period
  • Use of evidence-based methods for effective communication and uptake of findings
  • Patient and stakeholder involvement in sharing outcomes and outputs to their community through self-determined channels
  • Academic and community-relevant network focus for these efforts

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 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 the engagement effort among the targeted end users and settings.

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IV. 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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V. How To Apply

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

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VI. 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

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

Preparing Your Application

  • Stakeholder Convening Support 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 (One-Year Project)
  • Budget Justification Template (One-Year Project)
  • Milestone/Deliverable Table Template (One-Year Project)
  • Project Workplan and Timeline (Stakeholder Convening Support)
  • 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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VII. 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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