Small Grants

Do you have an idea for an app, game or other innovative technology for improving the lives of individuals with disabilities?

Do you need to conduct the background research to inform the development of that mobile technology?

Have you created technology that can be adapted to help adolescents and young adults with impairments manage their health and achieve independence?

Are you planning an event that will build the capacity of computer science students, engineers, health care providers or others to build technology that is relevant and accessible to adolescents with physical, cognitive, developmental or sensory disabilities?


We can help your idea become reality with a one year grant of up to $10,000 from the TIKTOC RERC.


See our past recipients here.


think outside of the box written in white chalk on a dusy black chalkboard

The primary goal of the TIKTOC RERC is to develop and evaluate mobile technology that will enhance the ability of adolescents and young adults with disabilities to manage their health and transition to independence.  The intention of this small grant opportunity is to increase the number of people who are working to develop technology for the needs of adolescents and young adults with disabilities. 


The Application Cycle for Fall 2017 is now closed.


If you have any questions, please e-mail RERC staff at

The TIKTOC RERC is supported by a grant from the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living, and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR grant #90RE5012). NIDILRR is a Center within the Administration for Community Living (ACL), Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). 



Fall 2017 Deadline

Application Due: November 1st, 2017

Announcement Made: December 1st, 2017

Application Process

Eligibility: Applicants must be either a student or employee at the University of Michigan or Michigan Medicine.

  • Students and fellows are required to have the support of a faculty mentor. 
  • UM faculty members and staff need to have the support of their supervisor or department chair / administrator. 


Submission of Applications: Applications must be submitted online through the Competition Space website:

The final announcement, templates and submission guidelines are available at the link.  Additional information is available by emailing staff at


Review of applications: Applications will not be blinded for the review process. Any perception of conflict of interest for reviewers will be eliminated during the time of review. Only applications that are complete and received by the deadline will be reviewed.


Applications are reviewed based on the following criteria:    


  1. Relevance of technology to issues / needs of individuals with disabilities
  2. Technological and scientific merit of proposed project
  3. Environment in which the program will be conducted; the available facilities.
  4. Feasibility of completing project within limitations of time and budget.
  5. Use of funds
  6. Qualifications of investigator(s) and project staff, including if support from grant would provide opportunities that would not otherwise be available
  7. Fit with overall RERC portfolio of projects

Notification and funding: Applicants will be notified as to the status of their award as detailed below. 


Award Terms and Funding: Each investigator is expected to provide evidence of adequate institutional support and resources to allow completion of the proposed work.


Recipients will receive up to $10,000 and be expected to complete the project within one year.  This amount cannot include tuition.  Additional budget limitations may apply based on federal regulations.


Reporting Requirements:  If funded, an interim progress report and final report are required. Funded applicants will be required to attend and present their project at one of the training activities conducted through the TIKTOC RERC.  Projects must also acknowledge the parent grant on relevant presentations and publications.


Required Components of the Application

1.     Abstract - limited to 1 page / no more than 800 words


2.    Applicant(s) resume or curriculum vitae – (no more than 2 pages)


3.    Mentor curriculum vitae (2 page NIH / NSF biosketch preferred) – if applicable


4.    Approval for proposal from supervisor / mentor or administrator (Agreement / Sign-off Form)

As small grant funds will be transferred to the applicant’s department or service unit for disbursement and use, applicants must have the support and approval of their department / unit administrator; in addition, students and fellows must have the commitment of a mentor to provide oversight of the project.   Please download and complete the sign-off sheet available through the Competition Space application process.


5.    Proposal Narrative - limited to 5 pages (single space, 12 point font, 1” margins)

The applicant is responsible for writing the proposal. This section should make it clear that the applicant understands the project, that the outcomes will be useful, and that they are likely to be attained.  It should address points A to D, as outlined below.

** Please note, these requirements are consistent with the technical narrative for small business and research grants funded by the National Institute on Disability, Independent Living and Rehabilitation Research (NIDILRR), Administration of Community Living, Department of Health and Human Services.


A. Specific Aims or Objectives: (1-2 paragraphs)

State concisely the goals of the proposed research or development effort and summarize the expected outcome(s).  Include the technical questions you will try to answer (if applicable).


B. Research and/ or Development Strategy
i. Significance:
      • Explain the importance of the problem or critical barrier to progress in the field that the proposed project addresses.
      • Explain how the proposed project will improve scientific knowledge, technical capability, and/or clinical practice in one or more broad fields.

 ii. Innovation

      • Describe any novel theoretical concepts, approaches or methodologies, instrumentation or interventions to be developed or used, and any advantage over existing methodologies, instrumentation, or interventions.
      • Explain any refinements, improvements, or new applications of theoretical concepts, approaches or methodologies, instrumentation, or interventions.

 iii. Approach

      • Describe the overall strategy, methodology, and analyses to be used to accomplish the specific aims of the project. Provide a tentative sequence or timetable for the project.
      • Discuss potential problems, alternative strategies, and benchmarks for success anticipated to achieve the aims.
      • If the project is in the early stages of development, describe any strategy to establish feasibility, and address the management of any high risk aspects of the proposed work.


C.   Project Team

Describe how the applicant’s training or experience relates to and supports the current application.


D.     Resources and Environment 

Include information, if applicable, on resources – including the availability of software and other technology – that are already available to the applicant and will be used in this project


6.    Selected references

       Citations in text and Reference List need to conform to one of the formats used by professional journals in the proposers’ fields


7.    Human Subjects (see template)

Include information, if applicable, on human subjects protections (see template available for download through the Competition Space application process.)


8.    Proposed budget and justification

Applicants should outline an itemized budget not to exceed $10,000. Salary support and fringe benefits for the applicant are allowed, though NO funding is available for tuition.  Budget should also specify the percentage of time applicant will devote to project staff without a faculty appointment must provide a plan of protected time as needed within the budget to allow completion of the proposed work. The applicant’s supervisor / administrator / mentor must affirm approval of proposed plan.

Projects that only ask for funds to purchase equipment should justify why they are not able to obtain the equipment through other avenues.  UM Applications without this supporting documentation will not be considered.


 9.   Letter of Support

Collaborators and Faculty mentors should provide a Letter of Support of NO MORE THAN 1 PAGE that affirm their support and expected contributions to the projects.



Always check Competition Space for the most up to date requirements

Frequently Asked Questions








What is the intended focus of this funding? 

Funding will be provided for proposals that emphasize the development and evaluation of innovative technology to enhance outcomes associated with health, community participation, or employment for adolescents and young adults with physical, cognitive, developmental, and sensory disabilities. 


Other questions that may not have been addressed in this document should be directed to the TIKTOC RERC office by email at  




When is the application deadline? 

The deadline for this round of applications is November 1, 2017, at 11:59 pm Eastern time. 

This is the final application cycle for this mechanism.



When will applicants be notified about the status of their proposal? 

Grant applications will be reviewed as they are received, and the award announcement will be made by December 1, 2017.    




Who is eligible to apply? 

Applicants must be either a current student, fellow, or employee at the University of Michigan or the University of Michigan Health System (including permanent staff, clinicians, faculty, etc.). 


What special conditions apply to each category of applicant? 

Students and fellows are required to obtain the support of a faculty mentor before applying. This means that the faculty mentor agrees to provide oversight for the project. 


UM faculty members and staff need to have the support of their supervisor / department chair and unit administrator before applying. That is, they must agree to handle the money and make disbursements according to the approved budget. In addition, to the extent that staff or faculty time is used in the project and results in changes in responsibilities, these changes must be communicated to the TIKTOC RERC office along with a new Detailed Budget and Budget Justification for approval. 


How can I apply for a grant? 

The application itself and all supporting documents should be submitted via the University of Michigan Medical School Competition Space website under the competition entitled “Small Grants for the Development of Technology to Support Health Management & Independence.” More information is available on the TIKTOC Small Grants website.


Who will review the proposals? 

Only applications that are complete and received by the deadline will be reviewed. Reviewers will include faculty participating in the TIKTOC RERC. Any perception of conflict of interest for reviewers will be eliminated during the time of the review.


What criteria are used to review applications? 

  • Relevance of technology to the issues and needs of adolescents or young adults with disabilities.
  • Technological and scientific merit of the proposed project.
  • Environment in which the program will be conducted; the available facilities.
  • Feasibility of completing the project within the limitations of time and budget.
    • Qualifications of investigator(s) and project staff, including whether support from this grant would provide opportunities that would not otherwise be available.
    • The way in which the funds will be used.
    • Consideration of the overall “fit” with the RERC’s objective and portfolio of projects.
    • Evidence of adequate institutional support and resources to allow for the completion of the proposed work.


How long will each project last?

The start date for a project is established by the date that funds are released. Each investigator is expected to complete the project within one year of the date funds are made available.


How are the funds disbursed?

It is the recipient’s responsibility to work with their own grants administrator to set up an account in order to have the funds transferred. Details of this process will be outlined in the award letter.


Funds cannot be used for tuition. Additional budget limitations may apply based on federal regulations. If you are uncertain as to what can and cannot be covered, contact the TIKTOC RERC office.


How soon after the award is announced can work begin on the project?

1)    The start date for each project is established by the date that the award money is released and the project should be completed within one year of this date. Funds will be transferred upon arrangements made by the principal investigator between her/his grants administrator and the grant administrator in the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. Details about how to arrange for this transaction will be contained in the award letter.


2)    If a project involves human subjects, the award money will not be released until the TIKTOC RERC office receives the IRB Approval Letter. (See IRB FAQs below.)


3)    If this project is a clinical trial which involves assigning an intervention in order to evaluate a health-related outcome, then the project must be registered with This is the responsibility of the principal investigator.  Once registered, report this information to the TIKTOC RERC office, at which time the award money will be released. Please direct all questions regarding clinical trials and registering with to the University’s the Office of Regulatory Affairs.


4)    In order for a clinical trial to be published, the trial must be registered in as stated in number 3 above. If you are planning to publish a NON-clinical trial, you are encouraged to check the publishing requirements of the journal. What was sporadic enforcement by a few hundred journals seven years ago is now nearly consistent enforcement by more than 3000 journals. Please reference the International Committee of Medical Journal Editors website or the Office of Regulatory Affairs.


What are the reporting requirements for a funded proposal?

  • A progress report is expected at 6 months, 12 months, and 24 months post-award. A template for the reports will be provided at the University of Michigan Medical School Competition Space website.
  • The due date for the 6-month interim report should be no later than the first day of the 7th month after the project start date. Release of funds for the second half of the project year will be contingent upon receiving the interim report in a timely manner.


What other requirements are associated with the grants?

  • Funded applicants will be asked to present their project at one of the training activities conducted through the TIKTOC RERC.
  • The TIKTOC RERC and NIDILRR must be acknowledged in any relevant presentations and publications. (Wording for acknowledgments will be provided in project guidelines accompanying the award letter.)
  • If there is a change in the status of the IRB Approval Letter or the Informed Consent that is on file with the TIKTOC RERC, you must submit new documentation related to your project.
  • Periodically, the grant awardee will be asked to provide the TIKTOC RERC archive with bibliographic citations for any posters, presentations, publications, etc., that have resulted from the funded project.




What is required for a complete application?

The components of the application are described in detail in the downloadable PDF of project guidelines (found elsewhere on this web page and on the Competition Space application page), and include personal details (contact information, applicant’s resume or CV, mentor’s CV), proposal details (abstract, narrative, reference list, human subjects form, detailed budget, and budget justification), and supporting documents (letters of support, Agreement form).


What is the Agreement form?

This form can be downloaded and is a fillable document for providing identifying information and signatures of the applicant, faculty mentor, department chair, or supervisor; the department or service unit’s administrator (for example, the research process manager and/or contracts and grants specialist); and any other staff who will have supervisory or fiscal oversight or other responsibilities for the funding.


Other important information included on this form signals whether or not additional components need to be submitted with the proposal, such as the Human Subjects form or a letter of approval for cost-sharing.


What format should be used for reference citations in the text and for the reference list?

Any format used by professional journals in the applicant’s field. This can include (but is not limited to) AMA style, APA style, or another systematized style.


When is it necessary to include information about human subjects in the proposal?

According to the University of Michigan’s Standard Practice Guide 303.05, all human research conducted by members of the University community, using University facilities or resources, or involving use or disclosure of identifiable private information created or maintained by the University will be guided by the ethical principles of the report of the National Commission for the Protection of Human Subjects of Biomedical and Behavioral Research entitled Ethical Principles and Guidelines for the Protection of Human Subjects of Research (the “Belmont Report”) and performed in compliance with applicable federal and state law.


On the Human Subjects section of the Agreement form applicants will check a box indicating whether or not the proposal includes human subjects. If yes, then the Human Subjects template must be completed as part of the application, indicating how many participants there will be, and what the inclusion and exclusion criteria will be (that is, characteristics or factors that will qualify or disqualify, respectively, prospective participants).


Is IRB approval needed to submit this application?

No. If an awardee will be conducting a project that requires regulatory oversight by one of the university’s Institutional Review Boards (IRB), an application to the appropriate IRB must be approved before any funds will be released.


If you require assistance related to regulatory compliance and human subject protection, please consult directly with your mentor or department head. Further information can be found at the University’s eResearch website and at the Office of Research website. 


Should a consent form for human subjects be included with the proposal?

No. If needed, obtaining IRB approval for a funded project is the responsibility of award recipients (and their mentors, if applicable) and is not part of the proposal process.


How does IRB approval interface with the release of funding?

Funding will not be released until IRB approval has been obtained and documentation has been provided to: Donna Omichinski, Coordinator of the TIKTOC RERC (


Can grant funds be used for domestic travel? 

Yes, but only with documentation justifying how the expense is needed to achieve project goals. Travel expenses cannot exceed 20% of the total award.


Can consultants be hired with grant funds? 

Yes. However, the awardee’s department or service unit approves and takes responsibility for making all arrangements for such services and must be vetted and approved BEFORE funds will be released. Consultants cannot start work until an official agreement is put into place with UM’s Procurement office. (A “consultant” is an individual who is not employed by the University of Michigan or the UM Health System.). 


Are indirect costs allowable?

No. Indirect costs are not allowable. Funding is for direct costs only. 


How many letters of support should be included in the proposal?

For students or post-docs, at least one letter of support should be obtained from each faculty member, supervisor, and/or administrator who will provide oversight if the proposal is funded. 




Does the TIKTOC RERC provide administrative support to these Small Grants projects?

No. The TIKTOTC RERC staff is not able to provide any administrative support related to the funded project. Therefore, it is critical for all applicants to consider any and all administrative activities related to their project (IRB, enrolling subjects, registration with, budget, monitoring, etc.) within the guidelines of the project’s budget.


Where can I get additional help on the UM or UMHS campus (or online) with preparing a proposal? 

Start with your faculty mentor, department head, or unit administrator.

  • Both IRBs (IRBMED and IRBHSBS ) offer various courses and other types of assistance for developing proposals.
  • The Michigan Medicine Office of Research has many resources to assist you.
  • The Office of Research and Sponsored Projects offers a detailed online guide to writing proposals.


Can funds be applied toward existing projects? 

Yes, but the proposal narrative must make very clear exactly how the funding will supplement, not duplicate, current funding. A clear statement regarding any potential conflicts of interest should be included on the Agreement form.  


Can I apply for a renewal or extension of my grant during a subsequent funding period? 

Preference is given to projects that will be completed during a single funding period. Under exceptional circumstances a renewal or extension may be considered, but such extensions are discouraged, as they often imply poor planning, budgeting, or implementation of the initial project application.


What if the funding proves to be insufficient for the project? 

Investigators should plan and budget carefully to avoid budget shortfalls. Investigators who have made solid progress but require additional funds are encouraged to seek other sources of funding.


If my proposal is not funded, can I resubmit it again in the future?