Call for Kickstarter Proposals

Program Goals and Scope

The twin goals of this program are:

1) to promote excellence in Rubin-related research by enabling science collaboration members to dedicate time to preparatory work in advance of the survey starting operations and

2) to ensure that research opportunities and facilities are accessible on a fair and equitable basis to all science collaboration members and to overcome common barriers to entry and participation

Both goals are considered to be equally important to the success of the program.

The scope of activities which may be supported by grants is quite broad, and the following non-exhaustive list includes a few ideas of included topics.

Applicants are encouraged to review the example proposal concepts outlined in more detail here, and in the presentation about the program given to the Science Collaborations.

The Science Collaboration community thrives on the many contributions of its members and proposers are encouraged to highlight service contributions that they have and/or plan to make for the benefit of the Collaboration(s) and the wider community.

Workshop & Mailing List

An online workshop for everyone interested in submitting a proposal will be held on 8 & 9 Sept, 2021. If you would like to remain informed about the program, and particularly if you would like to join the workshop, please fill in this contact form.


All members of the following participating Rubin Science Collaborations are eligible to apply:

Membership of these Collaborations is open to the US and Chilean astronomical communities and to international astronomers through the Rubin data rights program. Anyone interested in joining is encouraged to check their membership eligibility with the Science Collaboration representing their science area of interest.

Grant applications are welcomed from members in all countries. There are no geographic restrictions on eligibility, but successful applicants must be legally able to receive funds wired from the United States, under United States law (restrictions are rare, and more information can be found here).

Collaborative applications are encouraged and proposing teams may include personnel from other Rubin Science Collaborations and non-members, provided the proposal lead is a member of one of the participating Science Collaborations.

The participating Science Collaborations actively seek to nurture a culture that is welcoming and inclusive of people from diverse backgrounds with regard to race, color, sex, age, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity and/or expression, disability, and veteran status. Proposals led by applicants from communities that were traditionally withheld from astronomy are particularly encouraged, and new Science Collaboration members are welcome.

Key Dates

Proposal submission deadline:30 September 2021, by 11:59pm PDT
Earliest grants start:November 2021
Grants end:31 July 2022
Final reports due:31 Aug 2022, by 11:59pm PDT

Proposal Categories and Resources

Proposals are solicited in the following two categories. Proposals that enhance the careers of junior researchers and students are particularly encouraged under both categories.

Individual or team proposals

Proposing teams may request up to the amount of (US) $20,000 per proposal. The team may consist of members from multiple institutions and science collaborations. It is preferred that the funds be awarded to a single lead institution, or if necessary to a small number of institutions.

Partnership proposals

This program aims to cultivate partnerships to better understand and overcome barriers to participation in astrophysics, particularly by members of communities that were traditionally discouraged from astronomy. Such partnerships may be at a nascent stage, and proposals designed to lay groundwork for longer-term programs are welcome.

It is expected that Partnership proposals will be formed between institutions or groups with established Rubin research programs (including universities, colleges and other research and teaching institutions as well as Science Collaboration subgroups and Task Forces), and institutions or groups that may be new to Rubin research and/or which would like to become more involved, particularly those which serve communities that were traditionally withheld from astronomy, for example Minority Serving Institutions.

Partnerships are expected to form in advance of the proposal being submitted, and representatives from both institutions/groups should be PI and Co-PI. Proposals that seek to develop future partnerships are welcome as individual/team proposals. The PI of a partnership proposal should be a full member of one of the participating Science Collaborations, and it is strongly encouraged, but not required, that the Co-PI should be or plan to become a member also.

Partnership proposals may request up to the amount of (US) $30,000 per proposal (higher than the $20,000 cap for individual/team proposals). The proposed activities must benefit both partners, and the funding must be disbursed equitably.

Prospective applicants in this category are encouraged to reach out to the program’s management team for advice in advance of submitting their proposal.

Proposal Guidelines

Proposals should be written in English, and submitted as a single PDF file that meets the following criteria:

Click here for a LaTeX-format proposal template

Click here for a Google Docs-format proposal template

All proposals should include the following sections and respect the indicated page limits:

Program title
Program abstract [300 words]
Proposer information [No page limit]
Name, institutional affiliation, Science Collaboration affiliation and email address of the Principal Investigator
[Partnership proposals only] Name, institutional affiliation, Science Collaboration affiliation and email address of the Co-Principal Investigator
Names, institutional affiliations, Science Collaboration affiliation (if any) and email addresses of all Co-Investigators
Whether this is an individual/team or partnership proposal
Project Description [up to 2 pages]
This should include descriptions of the project objectives, motivation and scientific context, and how it would contribute to or complement the scientific goals of one or more of the participating Science Collaborations.
Figures, Tables and References [up to 1 page]
Strategy for Project Activities [up to 2 pages]
This section should describe how the team will achieve their objectives, and include a work plan for the project, with a timeline and milestones, indicating the roles of all personnel involved. Figures or tables summarizing these activities are recommended.
It must also describe the team’s plans for sharing and documenting the deliverables of their program, including software, raw and reduced data products, tutorials and publications. Proposals that make their products publically accessible through well-established archival services are strongly encouraged. Teams are encouraged to publish both scientific and software contributions.
Budget and Justification [single table plus text, up to 2 pages]
The proposal should include a table that itemizes the amounts requested for different items, with an exact total of what is requested in US $. Costs may include (and are not limited to) labor (plus fringe costs), supplies, equipment, travel, services and publications, and any institutional overhead.
The budget justification should include detailed descriptions of the cost items requested.
Any indirect costs included are strictly capped at 15%, and the total cost of the proposal may not exceed the maximum described for individual or partnership proposals, whichever is applicable.
All funds must be expended by the end of the grant period. Typically, proposers should budget for 9 months.
Existing Support and Resources [no page limit]
The PI and all members of the proposing team who will draw financial support from the proposed project should list all existing grants (not including pending proposals) on which they are a Principal or Co-Investigator, as well as any other funding sources to which they have access, for example through their institution.
Details provided should include the name of the grant’s Principal Investigator, the title of the proposal, the funding source or agency, the award amount, and the performance period (grant start and end dates).
Statement of Impact [1 page]
Proposers should describe how the proposed funding would be enabling or transformative to their research program and to the wider community; for example, highly valued aspects will be how it would enhance diversity and equity in astronomy, increase recruitment, retention and success rates for students from marginalized communities, including people with disabilities, and/or enable citizen science.
Personal Statement [optional and confidential, 1 page]
The proposing team are invited to include a personal statement highlighting any circumstances which may have raised barriers to their research progress (e.g. caregiving/childcare during the pandemic lockdown), and any previous voluntary service to their Science Collaboration, to be taken into consideration.
These statements, if provided, will be handled confidentially and restricted to the Resource Allocation Committee and the chairs of the participating science collaborations.

Proposals that violate the proposal length criterion will be evaluated solely on the information on the allowed number of pages and will likely receive a lower ranking from the Resource Allocation Committee. Proposals that are otherwise non-compliant with the guidelines above may be returned without review. On a best-effort basis, the RAC may contact proposers in these cases to try to resolve proposal issues.

Proposal Submission

Proposals must be submitted before 11:59pm PDT on 30 September 2021, as a single PDF-format attachment by email to with the subject line “Small Grant Proposal Submission”.

Evaluation of Proposals

All proposals will be evaluated by a Resource Allocation Committee composed of members drawn from Rubin Observatory and the Science Collaborations, and advocates for diversity in science. Proposers will be notified with the results of the selection process by the end of October 2021. The review will consider each proposal’s impact on the research community in addition to its scientific impact, project strategy and budget.

Reporting Requirements

Successful proposals will be expected to submit a report at the end of the program summarizing all aspects of their project, including its research output and its impact on the wider science community, as well as a description of any resulting software, data products and publications. This report should also include a budget to actual cost summary.

This report should be submitted in PDF format by email to with the subject line “Small Grant Proposal Report” by 31 Aug 2022, by 11:59pm PDT.

This report is in addition to any reporting that may be required by the PI’s host institution.

More information and Contacts

The Program Officer for this program is Rachel Street of Las Cumbres Observatory,

All information regarding this program will be made available via the program’s website and via the participating Science Collaborations.

Proposal Checklist


  • Proposal Title
  • Proposal Abstract [300 words]
  • Proposer information [No page limit]
  • Project Description [2 pages]
  • Figures, Tables, References [1 page]
  • Strategy for Project Activities [up to 2 pages]
  • Budget Outline and Justification [single table plus text, 2 pages]
  • Existing Support and Resources [no page limit]
  • Statement of Impact [1 page]
  • Personal Statement [optional and confidential, 1 page]
  • Format & Submission:

  • 1-inch margins, US-letter sized paper
  • Minimum Arial 11pt or Times New Roman 12-pt font, 10-pt allowed for figure captions
  • Single PDF document
  • Submission deadline 30 September 2021 by 11:59pm PDT