Pilot Awards

Pilot Funding Opportunities
Up to $10,000 in Research Funds

Proposals for 2022-2023 pilot funding will be accepted in spring 2022

The Center on Race and Social Problems invites full-time faculty and researchers at Pitt who have a doctoral degree to submit pilot study proposals that address current race-related social problems within any of the eight areas of focus of CRSP: health; economic disparities; education disparities; interracial group relations; mental health; families and youth; older adults; and criminal justice.  This initiative is expected to support one to three new pilot projects.The projects may cover a wide range of research methodologies, including qualitative and quantitative research, policy analysis and evaluation, and translation of research into practice.  Existing or new data may be used for exploring race-related problems.  Inclusion of minority investigators as PI, Co-PI, or Mentor is encouraged, and to be considered proposals must have race as the central focus.

The projects may cover a wide range of research methodologies, including qualitative and quantitative research, policy analysis and evaluation, and translation of research into practice.  Existing or new data may be used for exploring race-related problems.  When evaluating the projects, emphasis is placed on the overall value of the project to the Center’s mission, the scientific merit of the research, and the likelihood that the work will lead to scholarly publication and external funding of subsequent studies. Inclusion of minority investigators as PI, Co-PI, or Mentor is encouraged, and prospective proposals must have race as the central focus. Note that it is not enough to just study a minority population. One needs to specify research questions focused on race and then analyze the role of race in the phenomena being studied.

If you have received pilot funding from CRSP in the past, you can be considered for new funding only if previous funding resulted in at least one paper submitted for publication and at least one proposal submitted for external funding for follow-up research.

All proposal submissions should contain the following:

  1. An overview (2-pages maximum total) that includes a) the title of the project; b) a project abstract of 150 words or less; c) the name and university affiliation, and contact information for the PI; and c) the names and university affiliations of the other investigators on the proposal
  2. A proposal narrative that is single-spaced (not including references) with a 10-page maximum length. Longer proposals will be truncated to their first 10 pages. The narrative should describe:
    1.  The specific aims of the proposal (what is the research intended to accomplish or find, regarding race)
    2. Background (what observations or prior scientific findings serve as the basis for the study)
    3. Importance and Implications of the work (why is it important to conduct the research, particularly regarding race)
    4. Subjects and Recruitment (who will be studied, how will they be identified, and how will they be approached for participation)
    5. Analytic plan (what information will be gathered, how will it be gathered, and how will it be analyzed)
    6. Qualifications of the Principal Investigators
    7. Plans for scholarly publications
    8. Plans to seek federal or other external funding for expanded follow-up research
    9. Outcomes from Previous Pilot Studies Funded by CRSP (If relevant, please provide papers submitted for publication and proposals submitted for follow-up external funding)
  3. A project budget and brief budget justification (1-page total)

Budgets of $5,000-$10,000 will be considered.  CRSP funds can be used for participant payments, office or computer supplies, measurement, statistical programming, or research assistant support.  Funds cannot be used for university staff and faculty salaries, conference travel, equipment, or physical plant infrastructure.  No indirect costs may be included in the proposed budget. 

Megan Soltesz, the School of Social Work Business and Finance Manager, is available to help with budget preparation.  She can be contacted at (412) 624-6343 or mms34@pitt.edu.

The deadline for proposals was June 15, 2021.  Proposal components must be submitted in a single PDF document and uploaded at the link below.  Decisions about proposals will be announced in August of 2021. Approved pilot studies should begin thereafter and, if possible, end no more than one year later.  Brief progress reports will be required of grantees.


Return on Investment for Pilot Projects Over a 10 year Period

Image text: Since 2004, CRSP has allocated over $250,000 in pilot grants, which has resulted in a return of over $1.5 million in external funding for PIs and Co-PIs.

Read the full ROI analysis here > >

Dara D. Mendez, PhD, MPH | CRSP Pilot Fund Awardee 2019-2020
We are delighted to announce that a pilot proposal titled "Home Visitation and the Effects of Perceived Racism on Adverse Birth Outcomes in Black Families" is the recipient of CRSP pilot project funds for 2019-2020.

Dr. Dara Daneen Mendez with her team including Dr. Tiffany Gary-Webb, Yuae Park, MA, and Ms. Jada Shirriel, MS, CLC, will examine the association between racism and adverse birth outcomes among Healthy Start participants. The study will help determine whether and how the Healthy Start Program, specifically home visitation, moderates the association between racism and birth outcomes, as well as explore participants' and staff's experiences and understanding of how home visitation may mitigate the effects of racism.

Past Pilot Awards


Dara D. Mendez, PhD, MPH - "Home Visitation and the Effects of Perceived Racism on Adverse Birth Outcomes in Black Families"

Valire Copeland - ""Parental Perceptions of Access to and Utilization of Services: Autism in African American Families"


Waverly Duck - "Food Deserts and Oases: A Geographic Assessment of Grocery Access in American Cities"

Junia Howell - "Determining Value, Defining Worth: How Contemporary Home Appraisals Drive Racial Inequality"

Daphne Henry - "The Intersection of Race and Socioeconomic Status (SES) in Early Family Life: Why Do the Academic Returns to SES Differ for Black and White Families?


Nathan Hale - "Race and Gender Disparities in Bladder Cancer"


Lovie Jackson Foster - "A+ FamCare: African American Family- and Childaffirming Resilience Education"

Jaime Booth - "Ethnic Identity and Acculturation Stress of Latino Youth in an Emerging Latino Community"


James P. Huguley - "Evaluating the Potential Effectiveness of a School-Based Trauma Intervention for African American Urban Youth: A Needs Assessment"


Tanner Wallace - "African American Students’ Opportunities to Learn: How Classroom Climate Factors Condition Participation and Learning in High School Math Classrooms"


Anita Zuberi - "Neighborhoods, Race, and Health: Assessing the Relationship between Health Disparities and Neighborhood Distress"


Randall Walsh & Allison Shertzer - "The Genesis of Racial Segregation in American Cities"

Allan Tsung - "Do Barriers to Healthcare Access Explain Racial and Geographic Disparities in Surgical Intervention for Hepatocellular Carcinoma?"

Joseph - "Investigating the Impact of African Americans’ Experiences of Racial Discrimination on Ambulatory Blood Pressure and Health Risk Behaviors using Ecological Momentary Assessment"

Valire Copeland - "Palliative and End of Life Needs of Patients with Advanced Cancer: The Influence of Race, Economic Distress and Literacy"


Waverly Duck - "Social Policy, the State, and the Poor: An Ethnographic Examination of Policy Intersections in an Impoverished Urban Neighborhood"

Joyce Bell - "Freedom from Racism or Free to be Racist: Racial Harassment Policy in Higher Education"


Chyongchiou Lin - "Chronic Disease and Mental Health Comorbidity among Latino and Asian Americans"


David Harris - "Race and Search Warrant Trustworthiness in the City of Pittsburgh and Environs"

Shanti Gamper-Rabindran - "Are the Environmental Protections Agency’s Inspections of Polluting Factories Less Frequent in Neighborhoods Populated Largely by Racial Minorities?"


Mary Rauktis & Julie McCrea - "Child Welfare Research: Race, Clinical Decision-making, and Service Pathways in Child Welfare"

Rachel Fusco & Julie McCrea - "Family Group Decision Making: How Does Race Influence Referrals, Satisfaction, and Outcomes in a National Sample?"


Carol Anderson - "Community Opinions Contributing to Use of Mental Health Services for African Americans"

Charlotte Brown - "Depression Stigma, Race, and Treatment Seeking Behavior and Attitudes"


Sara Goodkind & Michael Vaughn - "Multilevel Characteristics of Incarcerated Youth and the Role of Race"

Fengyan Tang - "Racial Disparities in Volunteer Experience and Subsequent Health"


Raymond Jones - "Race and Perceptions of Sportsmanship"

Eva Shivers - "Exploring Multiple Discourses and the Construction of Relationships among African American Child Care Consultants and Teachers"


Ralph Bangs & Audrey Murrell - "A National Study of Minority and Women Business Contracting"

Ralph Bangs & Audrey Murrell - "Increasing Local Government Contracts with African American Firms"

Audrey Murrell - "Racial and Ethnic Discrimination in Public Contracting"

Gary Koeske - "Barriers to Treatment and Cultural Coping Strategies among Depressed African American Elders"

George McClomb - "Race and Developmental Disabilities: A Study of Racial and Ethnic Disparities Among African Americans"

Willa Doswell - "Influences of the Conceptualization and Processing of Racial Stereotypes on the Intended Sexual Behavior of African American Early Adolescents"

Nancy Grote - "Depression in Low-Income African American and White Ob/Gyn Patients: The Role of Chronic Stress"

Helen Petracchi - "Educational and Labor Force Participation Implications of Adolescent Fathering for African American Males"