Civic Innovation Challenge

Civic Innovation Challenge

Civic Innovation Challenge Powering Smart & Connected CommunitiesEnhancing Resilience to Natural Disasters:
DHS Co-Sponsoring the Civic Innovation Challenge

The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) Science and Technology Directorate (S&T) is partnering with the National Science Foundation and U.S. Department of Energy to co-sponsor the Civic Innovation Challenge (CIVIC), a nation-wide research and action competition that aims to fund ready-to-implement, research-based pilot projects that have the potential for scalable, sustainable, and transferable impact on community-identified priorities. Teams across government, academia, industry, and more are encouraged to consider how the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as other experiences in their communities, uncover new challenges, motivate new questions, and highlight the need for new perspectives.

CIVIC is organized as a two-stage competition with two tracks centered around the two topic areas:

Track ACommunities and Mobility:

Offering Better Mobility Options to Solve the Spatial Mismatch Between Housing Affordability and Jobs


Track BResilience to Natural Disasters:

Equipping Communities for Greater Preparedness and Resilience to Natural Disasters



The Process 

Application. Stage 1. Stage 2. Implementation. Teams of civic and academic partners applied to one of the two tracks in summer 2020. In early 2021, review panels offered awards to 52 teams, each receiving up to $50K. Review panels will offer awards to a down-selected number of teams, each receiving up to $1M. Teams will undertake their projects over 12 months and learn from each other as a cohort.

Stage 1 of the Civic Innovation Challenge awarded planning grants to 52 teams across 30 states as well as tribal regions, Puerto Rico and Washington, D.C. to refine concepts for projects designed to address use-inspired issues in their communities.

In Stage 2, 17 of those teams have been selected for awards of up to $1 million to conduct and evaluate ready-to-implement pilot projects in a 12-month timeframe. Teams will also collaborate across the entire program, sharing approaches and positioning projects to have wider impact.

  • Track A, funded by NSF and DOE, focuses on communities and mobility, offering better mobility options to solve the mismatch between affordable housing and jobs, as well as access to services like food and childcare. Six selected projects will seek to develop community hubs for smart mobility, pilot on-demand
  • Track B, funded by NSF and DHS, focuses on resilience to natural disasters in the context of equipping communities for greater preparedness to and response after disasters such as floods, hurricanes and wildfires. Eleven selected projects will develop artificial intelligence-based decision support tools for food distribution during disasters, improve the post-flood financial resiliency of low-income households, address the resilience divide in rural communities through rural resilience hubs. 


Stage 1 Awardees   

Additional Resources

For more information, visit the NSF Civic Innovation Challenge website.

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