Building Beyond the Barriers

Investing in partnerships that accelerate social justice in Champaign County.

The next funding cycle will take place from July 1, 2025 – June 30, 2026.

Application Timeline

Check back soon for exact dates or email for more information.

  • Summer 2024: Matchmaking/Info Sessions.
  • Fall 2024: Applications Open (Convening).
  • December 2024: Applications Close.
  • Spring 2025: Application review/selection.
  • July 2025-June 2026: Funding Period.


Facilitated by the Campus-Community Compact to Accelerate Social Justice (Compact), Building Beyond the Barriers will forge vibrant, co-equal partnerships between community and campus teams who will work together to combat racism and systemic injustice in Champaign County. The Compact recognizes that challenges of equity, access, and social justice here in our community are simply too large for any individual or single organization to overcome alone. Building Beyond the Barriers will foster opportunities for teams to leverage their creative expertise- both from community and campus perspectives- to address problems in six key focus areas: Accessible Technology; Community Health, Wellness, and Resilience; Community Relations; Economic Development; Inclusive Education, and Workforce Development. Building Beyond the Barriers will award $100,000 of funding. Grant range is $10,000-$30,000.

Building Beyond the Barriers will:

  • Increase opportunities for campus and community members to engage and collaborate to accelerate social justice in Champaign county.
  • Support social justice work or progress in the six Compact focus areas in Champaign County.
  • Connect project teams with resources and tools to accomplish project goals.
  • Invest in campus-community relationships.
  • Build trusting relationships that enhance collaborative work between campus and community partners.

These program goals are focused on developing co-equal partnerships between community stakeholders. While campus stakeholders can certainly leverage their research expertise to contribute to a project, Building Beyond the Barriers is not a research funding opportunity. Funds are intended to support projects and programs in Champaign County.

About the Campus-Community Compact to Accelerate Social Justice

In response to Chancellor Jones’ Call-To-Action against racism and social injustice in July 2020, the Community Action and Public Engagement (CAPE) Committee established the Campus-Community Compact, comprised of a diverse group of leaders from both the campus and the community, working collaboratively toward a common goal.

The Compact addresses six critical focus areas that challenge our community: Accessible Technology; Community Relations; Economic Development; Health, Wellness & Resilience; Inclusive Education; and Workforce Development. An established community of nearly 150 scholars and practitioners have developed short-and long-term priorities, objectives, and milestones to accelerate justice at the University of Illinois, Champaign-Urbana, and our surrounding community.

Please click here to learn more about the Campus-Community Compact to Accelerate Social Justice and six focus areas.

Information Sessions

We will offer virtual information sessions for potential grant applicants. Registration is required. Check back soon for more information on dates and times!


  • Project teams will have at least one campus and one community partner. Campus liaison can be any faculty or staff member. Students or student organizations cannot serve as a campus partner.
  • Project must take place within Champaign county with priority to projects that support social justice progress and activities in the cities of Champaign, Urbana, or Rantoul.
  • Projects should support one of the six Compact focus areas: Accessible Technology, Community Health, Wellness, and Resilience, Community Relations, Economic Development, Inclusive Education, Workforce Development.
  • .

Grant Awards and Benefits

  • Building Beyond the Barriers will award $100,000 of program funding. Grant range is $10,000-$30,000.
  • The funding period for this grant is July 1, 2025 – June 30, 2026. Applicants are encouraged to have a well-developed plan for implementation as soon as the grant funding period opens.
  • Additional benefits:
    • Grant orientations will provide teams with information about financial management and other resources to support their project.
    • Grant teams will be able to attend weekly office hours with mentors to get support on project implementation and learn from other teams about their projects.

Application Requirements

  • Name and contact information for community and campus project leads
  • Application questions
  • Indication of which focus area your project supports
  • Budget (Click here for template)
  • Project Memorandum of Understanding (Click here for MOU)

Grant Application Timeline

Summer 2024: Matchmaking/Info Sessions.

Fall 2024: Applications Open (Convening).

December 2024: Applications Close.

Spring 2025: Application review/selection.

July 2025-June 2026: Funding Period.


Mid-Project Update

  • Teams will provide a 10-minute mid-project update presentation.

Final Report

  • 2-3 page report
  • Final budget report
  • Metrics/Evaluation: Grant mentors will work with awarded teams to develop project metrics that will be tracked and reported on at the mid and final reports.

Project Presentations

Awardees will present project update reports to the Compact leadership and Building Beyond Barriers program team. Specific dates and times will be arranged:

  • 10-minute Mid-point project presentation
  • 10-minute Final project presentation
  • 5-minute public presentation
  • Additional community presentation opportunities may be added.

Funding Guidelines and Restrictions

Project funds will be provided on a reimbursement basis to the university partner unit. Project funds not spent by 6/30/2026 will revert to the Office of Public Engagement for reallocation in the next funding process. There will be a close period to allow expenses that were incurred within the award period to post to the project fund. The close period will mirror the university’s annual fiscal year close period.

Awarded grants cannot be used for the following:

  • Fundraising activities
  • Real property payments or purchases
  • Contributions or donations
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Fines and penalties
  • Legislative and lobbying expenses

Key Evaluation Criteria

  • Local impact or relevance. Project addresses a demonstrated need within Champaign County and provides measurable outcomes and deliverables that show progress in this area.
  • Build on current strength and leadership. Creates and/or leverages existing strengths of programs, community organizations, co-investments, and strategic partnerships.
  • Impact on building community and campus relationships. Advances community and campus relationships through projects that progress social justice in Champaign County. Demonstrates effective collaboration that overcomes barriers and builds connections between campus and community.
  • Alignment with the mission of the Campus-Community Compact. Project seeks to build trust, gather and share information, develop co-equal partnerships, be place-based within the community to progress social justice in the Compact’s six key focus areas.


  1. Who can be a campus partner?Any University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign staff or faculty member can serve as a project partner. 
  2. Can I use this funding for a research project?
    No. Building Beyond the Barriers supports projects and programs that invest in accelerating social justice.
  3. Can the Office of Public Engagement be a campus partner?
    Since the Office of Public Engagement is administering the grant program, we cannot be a project partner.
  4. Can a Compact focus area group be a campus project partner?
    No. Project partners should be faculty and/or staff members not working with a Compact focus area.
  5. Can you help me find a campus partner?
    The Office of Public Engagement can help you connect with a project partner for future grant programs, but we will not be able to provide this assistance for the current grant cycle.
  6. How will the funding be managed?
    The campus partner will use a spending account within their department or unit to pay for expenses. The Office of Public Engagement will reimburse costs to the home unit after they are spent. Community partners will not need to make project purchases or be reimbursed. All purchasing should take place with the campus partner’s home unit.
  7. What is a Real Property Payment or Purchase?
    This is the purchase or long-term lease of a retail or residential property. This is a non-allowed expense.
  8. Can pending funding be included in our disclosed matched funds?
    Yes, pending funding can be included.
  9. What support is provided in building relationships with potential partners?
    We encourage community and campus partners to connect directly with one another to collaborate on projects. If you are unable to identify a partner, email, and we can work to connect you with partners for future grant cycles.
  10. How many rounds of funding do you envision there will be?
    There will be 2 rounds of initial funding.
  11. Can community or campus partners be part of more than one project team for submissions?
    Yes. It will be up to those partners to manage their own participation in multiple projects. 
  12. Can projects address more than one focus area? 
    Yes. This should be explained in the project description.
  13. Can funds be used to hire people from the community as translators, interpreters, makers of education materials?
    Funding can be used to pay for the services of approved community vendors to provide services such as translation, interpretation, making materials, or other project services. Awarded  teams will work with the budget officer in the campus partner’s unit on how to pay for such services.
  14. Is it possible to get feedback on application drafts prior to final submission? If so how?
    Project teams can submit questions about their application  to and the grant team will do our best to provide answers. We will not be providing feedback to strengthen the applications.
  15. Are indirect costs, tuition remission, and fringe benefits be allowable costs on this grant? 
    Funding for grants is State and ICR sourced. If selected for award, your home unit will establish a unique C-FOP to capture the grant expenditure activity. An accounting of expenses should be submitted on a quarterly basis for reimbursement. Since the funding source is State/ICR, indirect costs and tuition remission will not apply. If payroll is applied to a state fund (which we encourage), fringe benefits will also not apply.
  16. Is student hourly or other hourly salary an allowable cost? 
    If the student or other hourly salary person is critical to completing the scope of work, yes, this can be covered. However, a detailed salary justification will be required.
  17. Can medical supplies be purchased on this grant?  
    No, teams cannot purchase medical supplies on this grant.
  18. Does the MOU need to be signed by one community organization or partner, or can it be signed by multiple (campus or community) partners? 
    Yes, the MOU can be signed by multiple community and/or campus partners.
  19. Can funds be used for hotel stays or transportation for programs? Gift cards?  
    No, hotels and gift cards are not allowable costs.


For more information, please contact