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Webinar Transcript: NIJ FY24 Research and Evaluation on Hate Crimes and NIJ FY24 Research on School-Based Hate Crimes Solicitations

Deadline Notice

The deadline to submit and application for "Research on School-Based Hate Crimes" has passed. If you have not submitted those forms, you now are unable to apply for an award under this solicitation in JustGrants. The deadline to submit those forms for "Research and Evaluation on Hate Crimes" is April 29, 2024.

On February 13, 2024, NIJ held a webinar to discuss the FY 2024 "Research and Evaluation on Hate Crimes" and the "Research on School-Based Hate Crimes" solicitations and explains the differences.

For the "NIJ FY 2024 Research and Evaluation on Hate Crimes" solicitation, NIJ seeks applications for rigorous research and evaluation projects to inform policy and practice to prevent and respond to hate crimes.

With the "NIJ FY 2024 Research on School-Based Hate Crimes" solicitation, NIJ seeks proposals from accredited research universities to conduct a study of hate crimes in the K-12 education system to understand the scope, characteristics, and outcomes of these incidents.


STACY LEE: Good afternoon, and thanks for joining us for this webinar by the National Institute of Justice or NIJ. Today, we're going to discuss both the NIJ Fiscal Year 2024 Research and Evaluation on Hate Crimes and the NIJ Fiscal Year 2024 Research on School-Based Hate Crimes Solicitations. At this time, it's my pleasure to introduce Ben Adams, Office Director at NIJ.

BEN ADAMS: Thank you, Stacy. And on behalf of NIJ's Director, Dr. Nancy La Vigne, I want to welcome everyone again to this joint webinar on NIJ's fiscal year 2024 funding opportunities related to hate crimes research. Again, my name is Ben Adams and I currently serve as the Office Director for NIJ's Office of Crime Prevention and Youth Justice. I'm joined this afternoon by Dr. Kaitlyn Sill, the lead Social Science Analyst for NIJ's Hate Crime Research and Evaluation Portfolio. Thank you all for joining and for your interest in these funding opportunities. Of course, NIJ's ability to fulfill our mission to advance justice through science is dependent on our applicant community and the quality of the proposals we receive. As you know, combating hate crimes is one of the Attorney General's priorities, and research and evaluation on hate crimes are essential for informing policies and practices that can help our prevention and response efforts. The Department has engaged in a series of activities to increase resources to combat hate crimes through federal law enforcement action and to enhance training support and outreach to state and local partners, including investments in research and evaluation. Since 2015, NIJ has awarded over $10 million in research to inform efforts to prevent and respond to hate crimes, including $5 million in the last two years. We're excited to have multiple funding opportunities to build on these efforts in fiscal year 2024. The two research solicitations that will be discussed today are designed to develop critical knowledge about hate crimes that will inform and support the Department in preventing, combating, and responding to hate crimes. 

As Kaitlyn will share, NIJ is interested in supporting the most innovative and rigorous research to develop and address challenges that result in actionable findings for policy and practice improvements. And in doing so, the NIJ Director has included in her priorities applications that propose inclusive research designs that address potential disparities in data sources, research methodologies and outcomes, and include multidisciplinary research teams, rigorous measurement of implementation fidelity, and an emphasis on translation and dissemination of research findings as applicable. We look forward to providing an overview of the two solicitations, the application process, and answering your questions this afternoon. And with that, I will turn it over to Kaitlyn. Thank you.

KAITLYN SILL: Thanks, Ben. Welcome, everybody, and thank you for joining today's webinar. My name is Kaitlyn Sill and I'm one of the social science analysts here at NIJ, working on the hate crime portfolio. For those of you not familiar with NIJ, we're the research, development, and evaluation agency of the Department of Justice. We issued two solicitations for hate crimes, which were both released on February 5, 2024. The first solicitation, Research on School-Based Hate Crimes, is narrowly focused on conducting a congressionally mandated study and has limited applicant eligibility. The second solicitation, Research and Evaluation on Hate Crimes, is broader with four priority areas and has a wider applicant eligibility. While the solicitations were posted on the same day, they have different closing dates. The School-Based Hate Crimes Solicitation closes first on April 5, with a March 22 Grants.gov deadline. The Research and Evaluation on Hate Crimes Solicitation closes on May 6, with an April 29 Grants.gov deadline. We'll go over what the two deadlines mean shortly. 

The purpose of today's webinar is to go over the two Fiscal Year '24 solicitations for Research and Evaluation on Hate Crimes, including the differences and the application review process. Additionally, we'll go over some common issues and critiques that we see during the peer review process, provide tips, and answer some frequently asked questions. Finally, we'll identify places to access additional resources before moving on to question and answer. While both solicitations seek to develop knowledge about hate crimes, they have distinct purposes and goals. 

With the Fiscal Year '24 Research on School-Based Hate Crimes Solicitation, NIJ seeks applications to conduct a study on hate crimes in the K- 12 system to understand the scope, characteristics, and outcomes of these incidents. This study is a congressionally mandated study and eligibility is limited to accredited research universities. We anticipate one award will be made under this solicitation. 

With the Fiscal Year '24 Research and Evaluation on Hate Crimes Solicitation, NIJ seeks applications for rigorous research and evaluation projects to inform policy and practice to prevent and respond to hate crimes. Eligibility under this solicitation is broad and can be found on page 4 of the solicitation. Applications can cover a range of topics, but NIJ is particularly interested in funding research and evaluation in four topic areas. 

In the first topic area, NIJ seeks applications to conduct evaluations of federal-, state-, or locally funded efforts to combat hate crimes. Substantial investments have been made at all levels of government to develop and support innovative approaches to prevent and respond to hate crimes. Research is needed to understand the effectiveness of these investments and to appropriately refine and scale these approaches. NIJ is interested in supporting rigorous evaluations of government-supported efforts to combat hate crimes, including but not limited to public awareness campaigns, alternative reporting systems, community-based prevention and response efforts, victim services, education, and prevention programs. 

In the second topic area, NIJ is interested in research that informs strategies to prevent hate crimes. This may include studies to identify risk and protective factors of hate crime perpetration and studies on the role of social media or online forums in the development of biased beliefs or as tools to recruit or radicalize individuals to participate in hate groups or commit hate crimes. Proposals must clearly demonstrate the relevance of the research question to prevention efforts. 

In the third topic area, NIJ seeks proposals for research and evaluations of strategies that improve the reporting of hate crimes and bias incidents. NIJ encourages proposals that work with impacted communities to understand barriers to hate crime reporting and/or examine innovative non-law enforcement strategies to improve reporting. 

In the fourth topic area, NIJ is interested in research and evaluations to help understand, address the needs of, and improve outcomes for survivors of hate crimes and targeted communities. Hate crimes are recognized as having a broader impact than other types of crime because they affect not only the immediate target but also others belonging to the targeted group. NIJ encourages applications to broadly conceptualize survivors to include impacted groups when proposing research to understand survivor's needs. 

Under the Research on School-Based Hate Crime Solicitation, proposals must include incidents that do not come to the attention of law enforcement. Proposals may include bias-motivated incidents that are not criminal offenses, such as bias-motivated harassment, identity-based bullying, incidents of hate words or symbols written in schools, with a clear definition and justification for including such incidents and an explanation of whether and how hate crimes will be distinguished from other bias-motivated incidents. Proposals may include incidents outside of school settings such as online incidents but must demonstrate the relevance of incidents to a school setting. 

What will not be funded under this solicitation include applications whose primary purpose is to purchase equipment, materials, or supplies or provide direct services. However, a budget may include these items if they are necessary to conduct research, development, demonstration, evaluation, or analysis. What will not be funded under this solicitation also include applications that are not responsive to this solicitation, applications that propose to introduce, expose, or disseminate extremist materials or propaganda to study participants, applications that propose exploratory data mining or other atheoretical approaches to AI, applications that propose to use social media to identify individuals. 

Under the Research and Evaluation on Hate Crime Solicitation, proposals may include bias-motivated incidents that are not criminal offenses. However, applicants must explain the relevance to understanding or addressing hate crimes, justify the inclusion, and explain whether and how bias-motivated incidents and hate crimes will be distinguished. 

Similar to the Research on School-Based Hate Crimes, what will not be funded under this solicitation include applications whose primary purpose is to purchase equipment, material, supplies or provide direct services. However, a budget may include these items if they are necessary to conduct research, development, demonstration, evaluation, or analysis. Applications that are not responsive to this solicitation will not be funded. Neither will applications to introduce, expose, or disseminate extremist material or propaganda to study participants, applications that propose exploratory data mining or other atheoretical approaches to AI, applications that propose to use social media to identify individuals, or applications proposing to study hate crimes outside of the United States. 

If your award is funded, there are several required deliverables. You will have the standard grant reporting requirements such as the semi-annual progress reports and quarterly financial reports. Additionally, any recipient of an award under this solicitation will be expected to submit a Final Research Report at the end of the award period and provide a draft 90 days before the end of the award project period. Award recipients will also be expected to submit to the National Archive of Criminal Justice Data all datasets that result, in part or in whole, from the work funded with this award, along with associated files and any documentation necessary for future efforts by others to reproduce the project's findings and/or to extend the scientific value of the datasets through secondary data analysis. In addition to these deliverables, NIJ expects scholarly products to result from each award under this solicitation taking the form of one or more peer-reviewed scientific journal articles or other appropriate products as listed in the solicitation. NIJ expects that there will be an equal effort to make the research findings accessible to practitioner and policymaking audience. 

There are certain elements of an application that must be submitted for the application to be considered. Even if one of the elements is missing, the application will not move on to the review process.The following elements must be included in the application to meet basic minimum requirements and advance to peer review and receive consideration for funding.  You must submit the SF-424 and SF-LLL in Grants.gov, the Program Narrative, the Budget Web-Based Form, which includes the budget details and narrative, the Financial Management and System of Internal Control Questionnaire in JustGrants, and CVs or resumes for key personnel. These must be submitted in order to make it to the next stage of the review process. 

In addition to the minimum requirements, there are many other requirements that need to accompany an application for full consideration. I've listed a few here such as the Project Abstract, the Letters of Support, tools or instruments, questionnaires, tables, but, most importantly, I flagged the pages where the full explanation of the applicant checklist can be found in each solicitation. 

NIJ has a two-part application process that requires submitting different information in two different systems, each of which have their own deadline. First, you'll need to submit the SF-424 and the SF-LLL in Grants.gov. The deadline for Research on School-Based Hate Crimes is March 22 and deadline for Research and Evaluation on Hate Crimes is April 29. Both of these deadlines are at 11:59 PM Eastern Time. Please note the different deadlines for the two solicitations with School-Based Hate Crimes closing more than a month earlier than Research and Evaluation on Hate Crimes. 

Second, you will submit your full application, including all applicable attachments, in JustGrants. The deadline for Research on School-Based Hate Crimes is April 5 and the deadline for Research and Evaluation on Hate Crimes is May 6. Both of these deadlines are at 8:59 p.m. Eastern Time. Note again the difference in deadlines for the two solicitations and the different timelines between the two deadlines. For Research and Evaluation on School-Based Hate Crimes, the JustGrants deadline is two weeks after the Grants.gov deadline. For Research and Evaluation on Hate Crimes, the JustGrants deadline is one week after the Grants.gov deadline. Also note, the application is due at 8:59 p.m. Eastern Time for JustGrants, not at 11:59 p.m. 

A couple of important notes. Applicants must register with Grants.gov and JustGrants prior to submitting an application. Processing delays up to several weeks can sometimes occur when registering, so we strongly encourage applicants to register several weeks before the application submission deadline. If you're not ready to submit your application yet, please register early. So, even if you're not ready to apply, make sure that you register in the system. If you do not submit your forms in Grants.gov by the deadline, your application in JustGrants will not be accepted. When submitting your application, we are urging applicants to submit, at least, 72 hours prior to the deadline. This will allow time for an applicant to receive a validation message or rejection notification from Grants.gov. This way, you'll be able to correct in a timely fashion any problems that may have caused the rejection notification. The 72 hours will also allow you time to verify all materials were correctly uploaded to JustGrants. We recommend you label your documents and attachments appropriately with the JustGrants filename indicating what the document is and upload the document to the corresponding section in JustGrants. 

Let me stress, these deadlines are hard deadlines, to the minute. Submitting the JustGrants application at 9:00 p.m. Eastern Time will result in the application being rejected. In past, applicants have reported missing deadlines because they used third-party software to submit their application and the third-party failed to properly submit their application on time. These applications cannot move forward for consideration. 

We often get questions about whether an applicant can submit an additional piece of the application that was missing from the initial submission or that they had not received, such as the letter of support, until after the deadline. We cannot accept these materials. 

Finally, we get requests for exceptions or extensions. NIJ is unable to grant these. Unless an applicant can prove and, let me stress, prove there was a technical error in the NIJ system or software while the applicant was submitting the application that caused a missed deadline, NIJ cannot accept applications after the deadline. Because this is a competitive process, we are unable to grant applicants additional time as it would be unfair to those applicants that submit their applications in full and on time. In order to prevent some of these issues that we just discussed from arising, applicants are strongly encouraged to contact the OJP Response Center, Grants.gov or JustGrants support. We listed the full numbers and email addresses here (Slide 10). They can also be found within the solicitation. 

After a solicitation closes, all applications are screened for basic minimum requirements or BMR. During the BMR process, we assess the applications to make sure they're responsive to the solicitation, i.e., you're proposing a research project that responds to the call in the solicitation and it is being submitted by an eligible applicant. During BMR, we also check to make sure the application includes critical elements, those being, again, the required forms, the program narrative, the budget detail worksheet and budget narrative, and CVs and resumes of all key personnel. 

As a reminder, there are other attachments that should be included with the application such as human subjects and privacy documentation, which is required for all projects, the data archiving plan, letters of support, and project timeline. While these are not critical elements that will cause an application to fail BMR, failure to include these items, among others as they are applicable to your application, may result in a less favorable review or delay in releasing funds if awarded. 

Once your application passes BMR, it moves onto the external review process. The external review panels are made up of researchers and practitioners in fields relevant to this solicitation. They score the applications and discuss them, providing NIJ with both the merits and concerns of the proposed research. The review criteria can be found in the solicitation starting on the pages indicated on the slide (Slide 13). NIJ then uses these scores and comments to conduct its own internal review of applications. The internal review comprises of a team of science staff and leadership at NIJ in addition to any other relevant federal experts who may be able to weigh in on the merits of the application. After reviewing the applications themselves, taking into consideration the scores and comments provided by the external peer review panels as well as the budget, NIJ staff will then make a funding recommendation to present to the NIJ Director. The NIJ Director then decides which applications will be awarded funding. It should be noted that all funding decisions are made at the discretion of the NIJ Director. 

I'm going to flag some common substantive critiques we see raised during the peer review process, across the hundreds of applications submitted to NIJ each year. In the Statement of the Problem section, we see that sometimes the statement of the problem fails to identify gaps in the current literature and understanding of the current literature. The literature review is sometimes insufficient. The scope of the proposed research is extremely limited or conversely too ambitious. We also see applicants dedicate too much text to argue in favor of the necessity of the proposed project at the expense of clearly articulating the innovation, rigor, and feasibility of the project design. 

In the research design section, sometimes we see that the research questions are not derived from the literature review or inadequately specified. We see problems with the research design where it's not well-articulated or clearly laid out; where the research design or methods do not flow logically from the problem statement, research questions, and literature review; or where it is too ambitious and too complex to be feasible. Alternatively, we see applicants that fail to demonstrate the proposed research and analysis plan are the most rigorous plan that is feasible. Continuing with the research design. We sometimes see issues with the sample, such as the sample size is not supported by a power analysis or the sampling strategy is flawed or too ambitious. 

We also see problems with the quantitative analyses being vague and unclear or the data collection analysis plan being confusing. Other common weaknesses include failure to identify potential research challenges and strategies to mitigate them and failure to demonstrate access and the ability to utilize proposed data sources such as the ability to merge multiple administrative data sources. Applications also suffer when timeline, staffing plans, and/or budgets do not support the work proposed. Bottom line, the innovation, rigor, and feasibility of the research design to clearly answer the articulated research questions needs to be fully demonstrated including considerations of risks and appropriate mitigation strategies. 

Under the Capabilities and Competencies section, sometimes the principal investigator does not demonstrate familiarity or proficiency with the proposed quantitative analyses. In the Potential Impact, we see instances where the dissemination plan lacks specificity, is not innovative, or there’s no plan to reach non-academic audience. It is important to make a case for how the research results will meaningfully contribute to safety and justice, and how the dissemination plan will make the resulting research information actionable. 

Overall, a key takeaway from these critiques is that research proposals need to be well-written, feasible, impactful, timely, innovative, and clear. Projects should have an understanding of the current needs, the existing literature, and the work that NIJ has already funded. The application itself should be easy to read and explicit, with no mystery around what is proposed or how it will be achieved. The research design should be as rigorous as possible, and the sampling strategy should be backed with demonstrated relationships or letters of support that will make it attainable. A secondary mitigation plan should also be in place and articulated. 

The application should articulate the extent and importance of the project's impact on the field, i.e., applicants should ensure that the findings in the proposed research, if awarded, will have the potential for high external validity beyond the focus of the study itself. Applicants should also demonstrate consideration of ensuring research independence. In particular, the applicant must describe how they will ensure research independence and integrity of evaluation findings when the project team includes program staff. 

I also want to highlight some frequently asked questions we received. The first is around award amounts and performance period. These depend in large part on the quantity and quality of the applications that we receive. Each solicitation has a maximum amount to be awarded under the solicitation. Under the Research on School-Based Hate Crimes, we anticipate making one award. There's no set number of awards to be made under the Research and Evaluation on Hate Crimes solicitation. Awards made under prior hate crime research and evaluation solicitations have ranged from under $400,000 to $1 million. 

Another question is when will we be notified of awards or non-awards? Award announcements are usually made by October 1. Non-award announcements are usually made by the end of the year, and non-award applicants are sent their peer-review comments. There’s been some years in the recent past where award and non-award announcements were delayed but we do not anticipate that being an issue moving forward. 

Are US citizens working outside of the United States eligible either as the PI or co-PI? Can any grant funds be paid to institutions outside of the United States? Our solicitation this year states that foreign governments, foreign organizations, foreign colleges and universities are not eligible to apply. However, the situation with subrecipients and subawards may be different. We will get to subawards shortly. 

First, for the initial question, we encourage everyone to review the Code of Federal Regulations, particularly 2 CFR Part 200, which covers various matters regarding foreign organizations or entities, costs incurred in foreign countries, and several other matters that may arise in connection with non-U.S.-based entities or individuals that may be funded under a federal grant award. The DOJ Grants Financial Guide also covers policies with regard to foreign travel costs under an award. Generally speaking, a US citizen who's not otherwise disbarred or suspended from participating under a federal award, speaking as a general matter, could be funded under the award even if working outside the United States. However, more information about the work being done, by whom, and in what capacity would be needed as every situation is unique. If you have a specific question, please submit it through the OJP Response Center so it can be routed to the appropriate person. 

Can funds be paid to institutions outside of the United States? NIJ solicitation language barring applicants from foreign entities would not mean that the US-based applicant could not propose a foreign subrecipient or submit a proposal under which a US citizen will perform work outside the United States. All in all, we encourage applicants to familiarize themselves with the Code of Federal Regulations mentioned previously and exercise the appropriate cautions when partnering with foreign entities to conduct research. Data archiving, human subjects, and privacy considerations are all major contributing factors to whether partnership with a foreign entity would be feasible under an NIJ award. Again, if you have specific questions, you can send them through the OJP Response Center. 

Lastly, we also really receive a lot of general questions around submitting forms, what constitutes a new investigator, and other questions related to privacy and human subject concerns. For all of these, I encourage you to submit your questions to the OJP Response Center that is listed on the solicitation. Your question will be routed to the most appropriate person who can answer the question. 

To ensure that costs are allowable, we strongly encourage applicants to review the Funding Resource Center for additional information and helpful guidance. We also encourage applicants to review the Department's Grants Financial Guide and take the online training which is a requirement of all funded grantees. 

Finally, project descriptions and an overview of the portfolio are available on the NIJ website. Review this information for an idea of the types of projects and awardees that NIJ has funded in the past. Now, we'll turn to question and answer.

BEN ADAMS: Thank you, Kaitlyn, and please do continue to enter questions in the Q&A box rather than the chat so that we can easily track those questions. I will start with an initial question regarding the appropriation. "Will awards be made if no full-year appropriation is made? By what date must the full-year appropriation be passed for awards to be made?" 

I will take the first shot at answering that. As with other federal agencies, NIJ's activities are dependent on the availability of appropriated funds, and of course the timing and availability of those funds are dependent on congressional and administration priorities. Any awards under NIJ solicitations are subject to the availability of appropriated funds and to any modifications or additional requirements that may be imposed by agency and law. NIJ can elect to fund applications submitted under these fiscal year 2024 solicitations, either one that we've discussed this afternoon, in future fiscal years depending on, among other things, the merit of the applications, and the availability of the appropriations. This is all noted in both solicitations that we've discussed, for example, looking at pages 5, 15, and 16 on the Research and Evaluation on Hate Crimes solicitation. 

We have a question about eligibility and the question is “Where can I see a list of accredited research universities.” Kaitlyn, do you want to talk just briefly about eligibility again?

KAITLYN SILL: I'm happy to. For the Research on School-Based Hate Crimes, the congressional language limits eligibility to accredited research universities. For our solicitation, eligibility can be found on page 4, it includes public and state-controlled institutes of higher education and private institutions of higher education.

BEN ADAMS: Great. Thank you very much. We have a somewhat related question. “Please confirm that a university must be a prime on the school-based hate crime work.” The answer to that is yes. Kaitlyn, anything to add with regard to that question?

KAITLYN SILL: Nothing to add. The prime has to be a university.

BEN ADAMS: And the follow-up to that is whether the prime must do the majority of the work and use most of the budget. Kaitlyn, do you want to start?

KAITLYN SILL: Nothing in this solicitation specifies the amount of time that has to be allocated to the prime as opposed to subgrantees.

Post Webinar Clarification: See page 6 of the Research on School-Based Hate Crimes solicitation and page 7 of the Research and Evaluation of Hate Crimes solicitation which states “In the case of partnerships that will involve the use of federal award funds by multiple partnering agencies to carry out the proposed project, only one entity/partnering agency may be the applicant (as is the case with any application submitted in response to this solicitation); any others must be proposed as subrecipients. The applicant is expected to conduct the preponderance of the work proposed.”

BEN ADAMS: And again, I encourage and refer you to the solicitation, and the language regarding partnerships and subawardees. This is also, I believe, related to the school-based hate crime solicitation specifically. "Scope implies national, are you mainly interested in learning about hate crimes in K-12 schools at the national level/throughout the country?"

KAITLYN SILL: There isn't a preference within the scope of the solicitation. The objective is to better understand the scope, characteristics, and outcomes of hate incidents in K-12 schools. We are looking for people to propose the most rigorous scientific approach to expand our knowledge on that and to defend that the nature of this study that they are doing is widely applicable with external validity.

BEN ADAMS: I think this goes to the next content-related question and the response that you just provided. The question is, "What is the balance between scope and doing a deep dive into victims, perpetrators, program leaders, and community members?" 

KAITLYN SILL: Yes. And the answer is the same. The balance needs to be justified. We are looking for studies that that answer clear research questions. The research questions have to address the goals and objectives of the solicitation, and we are looking for projects that have external validity and therefore can be applicable both to research audiences and also policymakers and practitioners. Within those parameters, it's up to the applicants to justify their approach, the level of depth, the applicability and validity of their methods and their findings and the relevance of the research question.

BEN ADAMS: Thanks, Kaitlyn. There're a few questions here that I believe go toward the comment about exploratory data mining and other atheoretical approaches to analyzing big data. The question is about developing machine learning tools to identify new reports of hate crimes, would that fall into the category? 

I would point back to page 11 of the Research and Evaluation on Hate Crimes solicitation and page 8 on the Research and Evaluation on School-Based Hate Crimes, and just emphasize that any proposals that propose to study content on social media or online forums must be theoretically grounded with analytical methods that are justified with a theoretical context. I think that's where a few other questions that we've received about social media data have come from. But, Kaitlyn, I don't know if you want to expand at all on the data mining and AI piece.

DR. KAITLYN SILL: I think I would just echo what you said, Ben, which is I would refer people to the solicitation and note that the methods have to be theoretically grounded and tied to answering the proposed research question.

BEN ADAMS: Great. Thank you. Tracking a few more questions coming in. "Can the same proposal be submitted to both solicitations if it fits both solicitations?"

DR. KAITLYN SILL: I would encourage applicants to look at each solicitation. There are three potentially relevant solicitations. There are the two hate crime solicitations and there's also the Research on School Safety solicitation. Look carefully at the scope of each solicitation, the objectives, the goals, and the priorities. Submit to the one that is most relevant to what the application is best addressing concerning the scope and the objectives of the solicitation.

BEN ADAMS: Thanks, Kaitlyn. And again, you can search for guidance related to that within the solicitation for the Research and Evaluation on Hate Crimes solicitation. There are references to selecting the most appropriate funding opportunity that fits your proposal on pages 10 and 11 of that solicitation. 

“Is the applicant eligibility for school-based grant limited to new investigator or early career applicants referencing page 8?” I'm assuming this means the school-based hate crimes solicitation opportunity, and the answer to that is no, if I'm reading the question accurately.

DR. KAITLYN SILL: No. New investigators and early career applicants get priority consideration but there's no requirement or limitation that only new investigators or early career applicants could be funded.

BEN ADAMS: Correct. Thank you for confirming, Kaitlyn. And there's a question that says, "Does school and the school-based hate crime include universities?"

DR. KAITLYN SILL: The scope of the school-based hate crime solicitation is to focus on K-12 education.

BEN ADAMS: Thank you. Sort of a content question in terms of scope. "Does research on hate crime victimization fit into the solicitation?" I assume that's referring to the Research and Evaluation on Hate Crimes solicitation.

DR. KAITLYN SILL: I would encourage you to look at the fourth topic area of the Research and Evaluation on Hate Crimes solicitation, which is research and evaluations of strategies to improve outcomes for survivors and their communities with survivors being broadly conceptualized as individuals who were directly victimized but also those who might've been victimized secondhand or victimized communities.

BEN ADAMS: Great. Thank you, Kaitlyn. There's a question here that asks whether NIJ funds qualitative-only research proposals or should the study include quantitative analyses as well.

DR. KAITLYN SILL: NIJ will fund studies that are the most rigorous method feasible. If the most rigorous method to answer the question is the qualitative then NIJ will consider it as eligible for funding. An applicant needs to make the argument that the method they're employing is the most rigorous and a more rigorous method could not be otherwise feasible.

BEN ADAMS: Thank you. There's another question here dealing with subawards. It would help if attendees would clarify which solicitation they're referring to, but I believe this to be the school-based hate crimes. “Is it possible for a primary principal investigator to be affiliated with the accredited research university while the subawardee is associated with a non-research institution?”

DR. KAITLYN SILL: If the question is whether the research university can subcontract with a non-research university or as a subawardee, yes. If the question is whether a research university can be the subawardee and a non-university can be the primary applicant, no. The primary applicant has to be a university.

DR. KAITLYN SILL: I see one question. “You mentioned recruitment using social media as non-responsive. Is it possible to use the mixed recruitment model?”

So just to clarify, it's not that social media is non-responsive. It's we won't fund applications that propose to identify ways to use social media to identify individuals. This goes into the First Amendment concern which is —a research project has to consider First Amendment considerations, and so we won't fund anything that proposes to utilize social media as a strategy to identify future potential individuals who may perpetrate or individuals who have perpetrated hate crime.

BEN ADAMS: Perfect. Thank you for clarifying that. There was a question in chat that asks, “Can you please provide examples of what letters of support mean?” Also, “How many letters do you expect to receive?” We do not specify a number or expectation around a number of letters of support. This is described in the solicitation in terms of the elements of a letter of support. Oftentimes they'll come from project partners, sub-recipients, consultants affiliated with the project that demonstrate why they support and are committing to participation in the research effort. Anything to add there, Kaitlyn?

DR. KAITLYN SILL: On the NIJ resources, there are sample applications. I would say that a main consideration is to what extent is the applicant demonstrating that they will have the support and access to data that is fundamental for their application.

BEN ADAMS: “How much is grant experience factored into the award process?” I would first again refer you to merit review criteria. The are five criteria for these two solicitations of which one is capabilities and competencies. I would encourage you to look carefully at that, but it's not necessarily tied to prior award receipt through NIJ. So, take that into consideration along with solicitations where early career investigators have been encouraged as a priority. 

"Can we see previous years funded projects?" 

Certainly all NIJ awards are listed on nij.gov. You can also use the keyword search under awards at nij.gov to enter in hate crimes and that would likely populate a list of awards. We're also happy as part of the transcript to include a direct link to our prior investments in hate crimes research and evaluation.

Post Webinar Clarification: recently funded NIJ grants can be accessed at https://nij.ojp.gov/hate-crime-open-awards.  

I do see one comment dealing with partnership on the practitioner side. And again, I would encourage you to reach out to your local research universities to tap your network. Certainly, now is the time to reach out or if you're looking to form a research practitioner partnership to come in as part of the funding opportunity.

DR. KAITLYN SILL: I have one clarification on partnership as far as research universities of non-research universities and the amount of work. The language in the Research on School-Based Hate Crime solicitation on page 6 is that the applicant, the prime, is expected to conduct a preponderance of the work.

BEN ADAMS: Thank you, Kaitlyn. There’s one more question dealing with human subjects research. “Is being able to talk to students necessary? It might be hard to get IRB approval to interview students who are either victims or perpetrators of hate crimes. This question is with regards to school-based research.”

DR. KAITLYN SILL: There's no specific methodological requirement or sample requirement under the solicitation. With that said, we want people to propose the most rigorous method to get the best findings. And with regard to IRB, I have seen and NIJ has funded research that has included interviews with young people about victimization or perpetration experiences. But there would need to be justification and demonstration that that was feasible.

BEN ADAMS: “Just to clarify, so the issue isn't the use of AI or data mining per se but that its use must be grounded in analytical theory?”

DR. KAITLYN SILL: Correct. An atheoretical method to help derive data to answer a question or for a research design in which the study is theoretically grounded, that makes sense. Something that's proposing big data exploratory without any type of theoretical grounding that connects to the research question—or the answer to the research question is not theoretically based-- would be outside the scope and not be fundable under the solicitation.

BEN ADAMS: I do not see additional questions coming in.

DR. KAITLYN SILL: For everyone still on, please submit any additional questions you have to the OJP Response Center (800-851-3420 or [email protected]). They will be routed to the correct individual and I hope everyone considers applying.

STACY LEE: On behalf of the National Institute of Justice, thank you for joining today's webinar. This will end today's presentation.

Date Published: March 5, 2024