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About the Research Seed Grant Program

The program supports two types of projects:

  • Pioneering work that translates a novel digital data set available from a public or private source into a research-ready form that can provide insights on human behavior and society.
  • Projects that seek to develop, implement, or evaluate new programs that incorporate research insights into policy or practice.

Special consideration will be given to projects that examine or address questions with regional significance to greater Boston, beyond any one municipal border, such as inequality and social mobility, though we accept applications on all themes relevant to cities and communities. 

For all funded projects, new data sets and associated documentation will be published through BARI’s Boston Data Portal when the project is completed. Examples of past projects can be found here.

Applicants may request up to $5,000, which can be used for any project-related expenses, including materials, software, participant recruitment, or student stipend. Applicants will be required to demonstrate a commitment by their home institution to provide support for their project, in any appropriate form: faculty time, promotion, convening, matching funds, etc. Applicants will be required to submit a letter from a sponsor at their home institution detailing this support.

BARI has a strong commitment to diversity–we encourage applications from persons with a wide range of backgrounds and experiences.

Applying for the Research Seed Grants

Applications will be accepted at and should include:

  • Cover letter;
  • Summary of the proposed project, including its potential scholarly and practical impacts, and the data and/or partners it centers on;
  • Proposed budget;
  • Letter of support from home institution;
  • Curriculum vitae;
  • Contact information for faculty mentor who will oversee project;
  • If applicable, Letter of Commitment from partner providing data or collaborating on project.

The BARI Research Seed Grant program is made possible in part by support from Boston Indicators at The Boston Foundation and the Herman and Frieda L. Miller Foundation.

The following projects received funding from BARI’s Research Seed Grant program for the 2023-2024 year:


A Study of Urban Community College Students in Boston

Aaron Brennen BenavidezPhD Candidate Inequality and Social Policy Doctoral Fellow Department of Sociology, Harvard University. This project answers the primary question: of currently enrolled Boston-area community college students, what factors shape pathways toward educational persistence and/or drop-out? What obstacles do Boston-area community college students face and how do they manage the disadvantages in front of them? Given profound contextual factors recognized by poverty scholars (e.g., residential segregation, neighborhood crime and violence, spatial proximity to and from mainstream institutions, precarious work, and housing instability, including eviction, etc.), this research asks the following subsidiary questions: what influence does residential status, including neighborhood location and housing (in)stability, have on community college students? How do urban community college students navigate their commute, including the use of public transportation, in traversing the city? How do students who participate in formal or informal work-study seek and maintain job opportunities? While these questions promote the view that different features of urban life might be divided or separated, the project will seek to assess the assumption that there may be an interaction of these different mechanisms of disadvantage at play. In other words, how do these different factors interact with each other to constrain and/or promote educational persistence and/or drop-out? In sum, the project will consider how city-level institutions like public transportation, housing, and employment institutions shape the community college experience.

Implementing Climate Justice through Boston’s Building Emissions Reduction and Disclosure Ordinance (BERDO)

Claudia V. Diezmartínez Peregrina, Ph.D. Candidate | BU URBAN Trainee | City of Boston’s BERDO 2.0 Policy Fellow | Boston University, Department of Earth & Environment. This project addresses research and policy needs through a mixed-method analysis of Boston’s Building Emissions Reduction and Disclosure Ordinance (BERDO), a BPS adopted by the City of Boston in 2021 that mandates large buildings to gradually reduce their greenhouse gas emissions to net zero by 2050 (City of Boston, 2023). I will actively participate in the implementation of BERDO by working within the City of Boston’s Environment Department and will evaluate how climate justice is operationalized, mobilized, contested, and translated into specific implementation decisions through this program. These insights will serve to generate policy guidance on how cities can implement BPS through a justice centered process and to produce a set of environmental justice metrics that can be used by the City of Boston to monitor the justice and equity impacts of BERDO. In this way, the proposed study attends to both scholarly and policy concerns and will generate findings with broad relevance for decision-makers in the City of Boston as well as other municipalities in the Greater Boston Area that are actively in the process of adopting their own BPS. I will disseminate my research findings with the City of Boston and other relevant stakeholders through my professional relationships with local municipalities, climate networks, the Boston Green Ribbon Commission, the Boston University (BU) Initiative on Cities, the BU Institute for Global Sustainability, and the BU URBAN Program