In the midst of budget cuts and across-the-board reductions for the entire UNC system, there may be a ray of hope for educators and researchers in the form of access to stimulus funding. The $789 billion economic stimulus package put in place by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) includes new federal funding for higher education, training, research, and infrastructure. What does this mean? It means that funding has been allocated to the state of North Carolina, as well as to federal agencies and national laboratories, for use in research grants. It also means that this funding needs to be disbursed as soon as possible.
NC State responded to this news by forming a stimulus rapid response team, (SRRT) which in turn created a Web site – Stimulus Central – to serve as a clearinghouse of information about stimulus-related funding opportunities.
Chaired by Vice Chancellor for Research and Graduate Studies Terri Lomax, the SRRT is composed of representatives from the university’s executive officers, as well as administrators and faculty contacts from each of NC State’s colleges. It’s their job to stay on top of these rapidly evolving opportunities, and to keep the campus informed of new developments. The SRRT core group meets once weekly to discuss new opportunities, “word on the street,” and information from D.C. and the state, and to coordinate on-campus resources in order to best position researchers to participate in these Recovery Act opportunities. They then publish these updates to the Stimulus Central site.
“We realized early on that a centralized Web resource would be the best tool to keep the NC State community informed about grant opportunities, notices of intent, and new teams forming on campus to help streamline the application process,” says Lisa Currin, communications director with the Office of Technology Transfer, “so we moved as quickly as possible to get the site up and running.”
The stimulus package was signed into law on Feb. 17. By March 2, the stimulus site was up, and it was immediately put to use by the campus community.
“The very day we moved the site to production we began getting feedback,” Currin says. “In fact, I moved it to the production servers Sunday night (March 1) and when I got into work Monday morning, had several e-mails waiting.”
Those e-mails range from questions about specific opportunities, to questions about application processes in general. For those interested in keeping up with the latest news, Currin adds that the team has developed a stimulus alert e-mail list that generated 200 subscribers within two days of its addition to the Web site.
Check out Stimulus Central at http://www.ncsu.edu/stimulus. If you’d like to join the stimulus alert e-mail list, just click on the red button at the top of the home page. Once you join, you can receive e-mail alerts every time a significant activity is logged on the stimulus site.