RISA Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO)
Frequently Asked Questions
General Questions (Both Competitions)
What are the competition ID numbers for the RISA competitions?
Competition 1- Regional RISA Teams competition: 2925458
Competition 2- Collaborative planning activities in SE & CAR: 2925459
Letters of Intent
Is there any way we can submit a LOI if we miss the deadline?
Once the LOI deadline has passed, LOIs cannot be submitted.
Can we submit a proposal despite not having submitted an LOI?
LOIs are not a requirement, so you can still submit a proposal without going through the LOI stage. We would encourage you to view our webinar slides and recording.
Team / Investigators
Can a person be a PI on more than one RISA?
Yes, but it is important to articulate how one will be positioned to handle the work associated with that commitment.
Is it possible for various faculty from one university to be on different, competing “teams” either with members within this university or in other combinations with others from other universities or agencies? I am trying to determine if this is indeed a limited call for our university, that is, only one team from our university can submit a proposal.
Researchers from one university may participate in multiple proposals, and one university could be on multiple proposals (e.g. as a lead institution and as an affiliate). However, given the scope and scale of RISA proposals, we encourage you to use the LOI phase to make informed decisions about the merits of submitting multiple proposals.
Can a non-profit organization serve as a lead institution or sub-awardee?
Will you accept (what do you think of?) non-academics as co-PIs on proposals?
Yes. While the leads have traditionally been academic researchers, we would consider all eligible institution types listed in the Notice of Funding Opportunity.
Is a federal center or laboratory (e.g. DOE national lab) eligible to participate in the RISA team?
Yes, but note that we cannot support federal salaries.
Does an institution have to be located in the region?
It's not a Yes or No question. In the past, proposals from institutions well outside the region of interest have not reviewed well. However, many of those cases involved people on the opposite end of the US or thousands of miles outside the region. It helps tremendously to have a track record of engagement in and research on the region in question, including institutional partners in the region. Ultimately, reviewers focus on whether the investigator will be able to engage people in the region in person and, on a related note, whether they would be seen as an outsider with passing interest in issues that are very tangible and real.
For teams that are existing RISAs, may we cite work done by members of our team who are not official PIs in the new proposal? For the prior research section, do we include only research from the actual group of PIs listed on the proposal, or can we include previous research from the RISA even if the person who led it is not going to be a named PI on the new proposal? Where is the boundary of whose research is included?
The section is explicitly intended to include prior research for the PIs named on the proposal. You can cite previous work of researchers not named as PIs in the project narrative.
Can you please outline how the review panel will be selected. What will be the general composition of the review panel?
We have a set of technical reviewers and relevance reviewers. It will be a diverse group with a mix of skills, disciplines, perspectives, geographies, and sector backgrounds who understand the basics of co-production of actionable knowledge. Panelists will be screened for conflicts of interest.
Is there information available on past RISA awardees or successful proposals?
The RISA website includes links to currently funded team websites, which maintain updated information about implemented projects. See https://cpo.noaa.gov/RISA/risa-teams
The webinar described RISA efforts fitting into three buckets: research, informing decisions, and training/awareness-building. Do you feel that these buckets carry equal weight or is one more important than the others?
The RISA model approaches them as interacting and each team determines the balance across these areas that makes sense for their respective regional context and needs.
Can we provide research and tools that relate to weather (i.e. short term events) as well as to climate (i.e. longer term conditions)?
Our office is interested in supporting work that connects weather to climate but be sure to make the climate connection for the review process.
Competition 1 Questions
Budget / Funding
Will there only be one award per region or will you consider multiple awards if you have two strong proposals from the same region?
The RISA program can fund only one award per region. The number of regions that can be funded is contingent on the program budget, but geographic coverage is an important national priority.
What funding range is expected for RISA teams?
For competition 1, it is anticipated that most awards will be at a funding level between $600,000 - $700,000/year range for core RISA work. For proposals including a sustained assessment specialist supplement, applicants can propose an additional $100,000-$135,000/year for accompanying sustained assessment specialists components. For proposals including a small-grants competition supplement, applicants can propose up to an additional $160,000 total to support the competition.
How important is it to hit the annual budgets tightly, as opposed to a bit of fluctuation, as long as the 5-year total is under the limit?
For any given year, any amount up to $700,000 can be proposed for the core RISA component. Anything above that amount per year may lose review points in the cost category under the review criteria. Given the budget outlooks, the range would be $600-700K per year.
How should applicants fill out the SF424A NOAA budget forms for a 5- year RISA proposal?
Complete years 1 through 4 on the first SF-424A. Year 5 will go on the second SF-424A. In addition, in the last column of the second SF-424A, you would insert the totals for each row from all the categories covering all 5 years (1-4 from the first SF-424A and year 5 from the second SF-424A). The totals should be derived from the line item categories, in section B. The categories are travel, personnel, etc.
Would NOAA be willing to make a RISA grant/coop agreement with two universities in a region (e.g., in the case of a collaborative/joint/equally-shared proposal)?
Financially, NOAA has to select one institutional award for each region, but the funds can be distributed equally with other universities through subawards.
Section Page Limits
Does the 25 page limit for the narrative include the sustained assessment specialist and small grants parts or do those have separate page limits? Also, does the letter of institutional support count in our 25 page limit?
Refer to page 14 of the NOFO for page limit information:
"(4) Project Narrative/Statement of Work: The statement of work for Competition 1- Regional RISA Teams is limited to 25 pages, excluding references and figures. An additional optional three pages for the sustained assessment specialist supplement and three pages for the small grants competition supplement are allowed in addition to the 25 page limit."
The letter of institutional commitment is not included in the 25pg limit for the statement of work. However, there should be a description of the institutional commitment included in the statement of work, which would describe the proposed relationship/engagement between the institution and the RISA team.
What are you expecting in terms of institutional commitment?
Can take many forms. Any evidence of institutions showing support will be noted.
Is the letter required only for the primary award institution? Or for all institutions receiving funding?
The letter is required at the least from the host institution- a strong application would include letters from all the institutions who are participating in a significant way.
Is it acceptable for the letter to be from the School or Department the proposed RISA is housed within each institution? Yes, a letter from the school or department would be the more appropriate avenue.
Re: Small Grants in Competition 1 - will proposals that pre-select an organization not be accepted? NGOs that we talked to said that they are always being forced to compete with each other for small amounts of funding, when really they want to work together to achieve these goals. This is a different type of funding than the Core funding, and provides new opportunities to directly provide support to under-served groups.Can small grants go directly to communities or do they have to go to local organizations to work with communities?
The RISA program wants a process that is in some way open and competitive that encourages new relationships with community organizations. The exact form the process takes is up to applicants and could be designed to reduce burdens and encourage partnerships among NGOs/etc.
Funding should go to a group that can interact with a RISA team; this does not need to be a legally established NGO, rather it could include neighborhood associations or other organized groups at the local level who otherwise meet the criteria and goals of this supplement; as long as the host institution housing a successful RISA team can provide funding to the group.
What denotes a RISA “team” referred to in Competition 1. Is it a group of researchers (within a single university or organization) or a group of individuals, institutions or agencies within the region?
RISA teams have traditionally been a largely academic-based consortia of multiple institutions with partners in Federal, state, regional, tribal, and local governments. NOAA funding cannot support federal salaries, but federal employees can be included as team members. For more information about the structure and composition of RISA teams, review https://www.cpo.noaa.gov/RISA/risa-team-structure.
Can we propose work in an adjacent RISA region [in addition to the primary proposal region]? Would we need to negotiate with the existing team or an applicant in that region?
Geographic flexibility is allowed but needs to be justified to the panel. Consequently, it is encouraged to coordinate with RISA team / applicants of the other region if possible. We have seen this expressed as letters of support. Circumstances of the competition may make these discussions difficult, so they are not strictly expected.
Can applicants work on drought and if so, what are the parameters?
For RISA core funding, applicants can propose work on multiple stressor climate impacts to society in which drought is one of many drivers. The societal ramifications of long term drought coupled with other concurrent and/or combined physical and/or social events, trends, or projections. RISA core is interested in the multiple stressors (combined physical and social) in which drought is one of many drivers of risk. RISA is not supporting work on drought as a sole driver. Work on regional drought early warning systems (RDEWS) and the indicators, forecasts, impact assessments, monitoring, and state, federal and local planning and convening needed to enhance preparedness to short-term drought is funded by CPO’s National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS).
Competition 2 Questions
Budget / Funding
Are you anticipating two separate RISA's for Southeast US and the US Caribbean region as a follow up to this Competition 2?
The addition of new full RISA teams to the RISA Network is dependent on continued growth in funding for the RISA program.
Team / Investigators
Does the lead PI need to be a current PI on a RISA
No - there are no RISAs in this region. This is a new geographic initiative for the program.
Will you fund projects that reach across both the Southeast and the Caribbean?
Yes - with sufficient justification
The NOFO mentions a number of specific topics related to the social and economic dimensions of climate variability and change. Do you have specific expectations for one of these topics?
This list is meant to be a broad list of options for proposal brainstorming. Most importantly, the focus selected must center some social and economic dimension of climate variability and change in a manner consistent with RISA program priorities.
What is the duration of the proposed work? One year?
One year beginning Fall 2021.
Will the competition favor coastal issues over more inland issues because of NOAA’s ocean priorities?
No - both would be competitive. The RISA Program’s emphasis is on climate & societal issues within regions.