CAS Spark Grants

The purpose of the CAS Spark funding program is to enhance early-stage research, including idea generation, writing, prospectus development, grant narrative development, experimentation and creative exploration, as well as support research at critical stages of development. The program prioritizes early and mid-career faculty and faculty from disciplines with less substantial start-up funds and limited extramural funding opportunities. Consistent with the strategic goals of the College of Arts and Sciences, the program aims to help increase the recognition and reputation of scholarship in the college. Strategic investments from this program will address inequities in access to funding for research and publication, involve graduate students in faculty-led research, and assist faculty with the goal of enhancing competitiveness for prestigious awards, fellowships, and/or external grant funding.

This program is designed to provide seed funding support for research and creative activities at a stage not typically supported by external funding agencies.


All faculty (tenure line or Professor of Practice) in the College of Arts and Sciences, with priority for early and mid-career faculty and faculty from disciplines with less substantial start-up funds and limited extramural funding opportunities.


Amount requested per application should not exceed $5000.

Program Funding

Funding is limited and awarded on a competitive basis. The number of grants given will depend on the size of grants and the quality of the proposals. There are two rounds of grants considered each year with the following deadline dates: October 30 and March 30. Awardees should work with their department business manager to set up a cost object to fund expenses.


An individual faculty member may submit one application per review cycle, and may not receive more than one grant per year. Applicants may propose the same project for other internal funding opportunities but may accept only one of the grants if both are funded. Funding is valid upon notification of the grant and available for one year from the notification date.

Examples of allowable expenses include travel to research sites, access to special collections, specialized equipment, software, graduate and undergraduate research funding, travel for collaboration, data analysis, and database access. The program would not typically pay for activities such as travel to professional meetings or standard operating expenses. These would be expected to be covered through existing resources.


The CAS Spark grant application will open approximately one month before the deadline date and should be completed in NuRamp by the applicant, endorsed and approved by the department chair and routed to the Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Education of the College of Arts and Sciences.

To route a new application:

  • Access NuRamp
  • Select "Internal Competitions" from the upper left menu
  • Select "Applications" and "Add a New Application"
  • Search for " CAS Spark Grant"

Applicants should be aware that if their proposed research involves the use of animals, human subjects, radioactive materials, or activities covered by federal regulations on recombinant DNA technology, appropriate UNL clearance must be obtained before an approved proposal will be funded. Applicable policies and clearance procedures are available from the following offices: Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee, Institutional Biosafety Committee and Institutional Review Board.

Please review export control and allowable/unallowable expenses.

Each application should include:

  • Description of Proposed Activities (up to a maximum of 2 pages). This section should describe the proposed research, scholarly or creative activity in sufficient detail to inform non-specialists. It should include:
    • A brief description of the proposed research activity.
    • A brief rationale for proposed research activity and how it will enhance the development, direction, and outcomes of the research project.
    • A statement of the significance of the proposed activity to career development of the applicant and how it fits into the applicant's overall career goals.
    • A timeline for the proposed activities also should be included. It is expected that by the end of the funding period, the project should result in a clear scholarly outcome.
  • Abbreviated CV or Biosketch which may be in any format but must include summary of education as well as current and prior support. Applicants should provide information about other internal and external funding for this activity.

Please upload one PDF to NuRamp for items 1 through 2 from above.

The NURamp application will ask for a detailed budget identifying and explaining all anticipated expenditures, including equipment, supplies, travel (including accommodations, allowable daily costs), access fees, and publication costs. All items should be explained in a short budget justification.

Write your proposal in clear, non-technical language. The review committee may or may not have specialized expertise in your area of research or creative activity, so it is essential to craft your proposal for a general audience while including enough detail to judge the merits within your field.


CAS Spark grants will be made upon recommendation of the College of Arts and Sciences Research Advisory Committee (CASRAC). Recognizing the differences that exist among the various departments of the College of Arts and Sciences, latitude is given to the department in setting additional criteria for application and award of CAS grants within their individual unit. In the case of multiple applications from a department, the chair may provide a rank order of the applications based on highest to lowest impact in terms of the activity to the faculty member, the department or research group, and the research field. Proposals will be ranked first by intellectual merit, and then preference will be given to junior faculty. Broad evaluation criteria by the CASRAC would include:

  • Overall clarity and soundness
  • The broader impact of the expected results
  • Potential importance of the proposed activities to the visibility and reputation of the college/university
  • Importance of the type of proposed activities to the success of the overall project (planning, travel to research sites, access to special collections, specialized equipment, software, database access)
  • Potential contribution to the advancement of applicant's long-term professional development

Travel Requirements

We follow regular university rules for travel. A pre-trip authorization is required prior to all travel. International travel without an electronic pre-trip authorization will not be reimbursed. Additionally, all international airline reservations must be made through Fox World Travel to be reimbursed. Please refer to the International Travel Registry – Professional (ITRP) process for more information.

Final Report

A one-to-three-page report is required no later than four weeks after the end of the funding period describing activities conducted and any outcomes (e.g., publication, award, grant submitted) with the expectation that the activity will be completed within one year. This report is also a requirement to complete the reimbursement of expenses. The report should be emailed to the Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Education William Thomas ( and the college's Sr. Budget/Financial Analyst Alycia Harden (

Specifics for Business Staff

Once the report has been submitted by the awardee and approved by the Associate Dean for Research and Graduate Education, funds will be transferred from the college to the department.

Please contact Alycia Harden with any questions pertaining to the business aspects of this grant.

On This Page

  • Eligibility
  • Amount
  • Program Funding
  • Definitions
  • Application
  • Evaluation
  • Travel Requirements
  • Final Report
  • Specifics for Business Staff