Call for proposals for Public Interest Technology University Network Challenge


UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The Penn State PIT Alliance has announced the launch of the Public Interest Technology University Network (PIT-UN) Challenge limited submission competition. In its third year, the competition encourages new ideas, fosters collaborations and incentivizes resource- and information-sharing among PIT-UN members.

Penn State joined the public interest technology partnership, focused on fostering collaborations between colleges and universities committed to growing the public interest technology field and educating the next generation of civic-minded technology experts, in April.

Priority project topics for 2021 submissions include educational offerings, career pipeline and placement, faculty and institution building and strengthening PIT-UN. Project ideas may include experiential learning opportunities to expose students to public interest technology; new career training, placement or financial support models for those interested in the public interest technology field; and partnerships with nonprofits, private sector organizations, affinity groups or academic institutions to advance the field of public interest technology. 

Priority is given to projects focusing on the needs of communities that have historically been denied access to new technology, been systematically left out of the conversations at the intersection of technology and policy or who have been denied opportunities to join the technical workforce. Those in academic or extension programs across Penn State are encouraged to apply.

Proposal funding includes the following levels: 

  • Up to $45,000 for direct and indirect costs
  • Up to $90,000 for direct and indirect costs
  • Up to $180,000 for direct and indirect costs

As a member university of PIT-UN, Penn State may submit a total of three proposals, only one of which may request the highest funding level. That project will be submitted in collaboration with the Law, Policy, and Engineering initiative.

Internal submissions need to include a cover letter, a project description and the investigators’ resumes. Specific submission requirements and formatting guidelines can be found here. Applications are due June 1 and may be uploaded here. An internal review process will select three Penn State proposals to submit to the PIT-UN Challenge.

Questions about the application process, PIT-UN or the Penn State PIT Alliance may be directed to Sandra Allain, director of Law, Policy, and Engineering and Penn State’s university designee for PIT-UN, or Sophie Penney, director of Penn State Foundation Relations.

Learn more about the 2020 grantees here.


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