Special Fund for Graduate Research


ISI Fund – Special Fund for Graduate Research

Applications are now closed.

Indigenous Strategic Initiatives (ISI) Fund – Special Fund for Graduate Research

This is a one-time-only ISI Special Fund opportunity. The Special Fund will not be offered in future cycles of the ISI Fund.

This one-time-only Special Fund is for graduate-level students to fund research that advances any of the Indigenous Strategic Plan’s (ISP) 43 actions.

This was initiated by the Indigenous Strategic Plan Executive Advisory Committee (ISPEAC) and the Indigenous Strategic Plan Coordinating Committee (ISPCC) following adjudication of the Indigenous Strategic Initiatives (ISI) Fund Stream 3: Student-led Projects.  

Graduate students have widely reported a lack of access to funds for on-the-ground, Indigenous community-based research. This one-time-only Special Fund for Graduate Research seeks to fill this gap to temporarily fund unique costs associated with research in this area until a longer-term funding stream can be established.

There have been suggestions to make research funding available to graduate students in conversations about the Aboriginal Graduate Fellowship. These suggestions are under consideration to potentially be available through the Faculty of Graduate + Postdoctoral Studies from the academic year 2023-24 onward.

The Special Fund is one-time-only and will not be offered in future cycles of the ISI Fund.

Award Details and Review Process

Key Dates

  • Special Fund launched in mid-June, 2022
  • Special Fund Information Session #1 Monday, June 27, 2022, from 11:00 – 12:00 p.m. (PDT)
  • Special Fund Information Session #2 Tuesday, June 28, 2022, from 2:00 – 3:00 p.m. (PDT)
  • Application deadline on apply.academic.ubc.ca July 28, 3:00 p.m. (PDT) 
  • Applicants receive notification of results in late October 2022
  • Implementation begins in November 2022

Eligible and Ineligible Expenses

Funding can be used to cover costs associated with:

Eligible Expenses

  • Required small equipment expenses; 
  • Necessary travel expenses required for the execution of research;
  • Honoraria for community members, elders, leaders and knowledge keepers or brokers – please reference the Indigenous Finance Guidelines as needed;
  • Proportionate and reasonable catering costs;
  • Reasonable costs associated with facility rentals;
  • Development of education workshops and conferences;
  • Reasonable expenses related to the development of web-based information;
  • Reasonable costs associated with the dissemination of findings; 
  • Other expenses related to responsible and ethical research with Indigenous peoples and communities with justification.

Ineligible Expenses

  • Major capital expenditures related to renovations or additions to the physical infrastructure, as the ISI Fund is not an equipment fund; 
  • Insurance costs of equipment;
  • Living expenses;
  • Principal Applicants and Co-Applicants cannot receive a wage, salary or stipend out of ISI Funds, for further information please view “compensation” as per the Tri-Agency;
  • Tuition, enrollment and other student fees;
  • Teaching Assistant costs;
  • Monthly parking fees for vehicles (unless for field work);
  • Severance pay;
  • Costs related to faculty and staff awards/recognition;
  • Operational costs of the delivery of programs.

The adjudicators will share feedback regarding the applicant’s budgets. It is possible that applicants will receive conditional approvals for funding including further details about their expenses or be asked to resubmit their budget request.


Prospective Principal Applicants (PA) must have a faculty Co-Applicant who is their research supervisor tied to the ISI Fund research project. The Co-Applicant is expected to guide, support and encourage the PA throughout the process.

The ISI Fund is supported by a number of consultants to help with questions related to application writing, technical support and other consultation services. Email isp.funding@ubc.ca with questions. 

One-to-one support may also be available for applicants, please email isp.funding@ubc.ca

Guiding Principles

To view the ISI Fund’s Guiding Principles please visit the following webpage.

ISP Actions

Research projects can align with any (at least one) of the 43 actions in the ISP.


  • Principal Applicant: must be a full-time UBCV/O graduate student(s) in good standing at the time of the application and during the period of the project cycle.  
  • Co-Applicant: UBCV/O research supervisor tied to the ISI Fund project proposed by the Principal Applicant. 
  • Co-Applicant letter of support.
  • For proposals that detail external to UBC partnerships, partner endorsements are required for your application to be successful. 
  • If applicable, Principal Applicants may require Behavioural Research Ethics Board (BREB) or Clinical Research Ethics Board (CREB) certification. Please see the UBC Office of Research Ethics website for further information and support pertaining to certification.

Adjudication Criteria

Strategic alignment

Your proposal must align with at least one of the ISP’s 43 actions.

Relationality and collaboration

Proposals must demonstrate relationality as an element of their proposed project. This may mean interconnectivity between teams within a unit or collaboration with other units across UBC or working with Indigenous students, faculty, staff or communities.

Feasibility and clarity

The proposal provides a clear project description, scope and plan.

Measurement of outcomes

The proposal includes well-defined, measurable and achievable project outcomes (qualitative and/or quantitative).


The proposed budget is reasonable, aligned with the work plan and includes a clear justification for all costs associated with the project. 

Demonstration of Indigenous-specific research 

The proposal must focus on Indigenous-specific research. 

Funding Limits

Proposals can request up to $30K over the life of the research project, research projects can run from 12 – 18 months. 

Submission Guidelines

The application for the Special Fund for Graduate Research consists of one stage. Applicants must submit their project applications by 3:00 pm (PDT) on Thursday, July 28, 2022, through the online application system, and respect the character limit associated with each section. No late applications will be accepted.


An application template and a budget form are available for you to download. The template is intended to support offline work prior to submission, which occurs through the online application portal.


Special Fund frequently asked questions:

What does my Co-Applicant support letter need to say?

Support letters should indicate the relationship of the writer to both the research project and the Principal Applicant. The writer should highlight their commitment and familiarity with the project.

Please also ensure the support letter indicates the title of the research project and the name of the Principal Applicant.

It is imperative that the Principal Applicant receive the listed Co-Applicant’s informed consent prior to listing them on their application.

How do I know if my project needs Behavioral Research Ethics Board (BREB) or Clinical Research Ethics Board (CREB) certification?

Please discuss BREB and/or CREB certification with your faculty Co-Applicant. Your faculty Co-Applicant may be able to advise you if certification will be required for your research. If it is required, you can reach out to the UBC Office of Research Ethics for further information and support.

Who needs to complete a Community Partner Endorsement Letter?

If your research project includes already established community partnerships external to UBC it is a requirement to submit a letter of agreement and support for your project from the partner(s).

Internal to UBC partners do not need to complete a Community Partner Endorsement Letter, but applicants are welcome to detail their applicable internal partnerships in the ‘Co-Applicants, Project Team Members and Partners’ and/or the ‘Relationality and Collaboration’ sections of the application.

Who would be a Community Partner?

A community partner is an Indigenous or non-Indigenous individual, organization or community external to UBC with short-term or ongoing involvement, collaboration or relationship on your research project.

When do I submit a progress report?

Principal Applicants are required to provide a report upon completion of the research project providing an overview of their activities. Principal Applicants are also required to provide a financial report.

Can projects end earlier or later than 12 to 18 months?

Yes, projects with a justified work plan can be shorter than 12-18 months. Applications that are anticipated to end later than 18 months will be considered with justification.

When do the 12-18 months begin?

The 12 to the 18-month period begins following receipt of project funds, which is likely to occur in November 2022 with prompt action by the Principal Applicant and Co-Applicant to initiate the appropriate financial code creation in Workday.

Is it okay if my project timeline changes?

Yes, reasonable and justified changes to your timeline are okay.

My graduate program begins in September 2022. Am I eligible to apply to the ISI Special Fund?

Yes, students starting their graduate program in Term 1 of September 2022 are eligible to apply. Funding will be released when the student is fully enrolled.

Can I undertake a research project with a different faculty member then my graduate supervisor?

If this situation applies to you, please contact OISI for guidance via email at isp.funding@ubc.ca

I am a Ph.D. student that has not yet taken the comprehensive exams. I can’t obtain ethics approval until I have taken the exams. Am I eligible to apply now, considering I would not be available to get ethics approval until September next year?

You are eligible to apply now, although no funds will be released until ethics approval has been obtained.

If my research is already underway, would I be able to use ISI Funds retroactively for something that is happening right now?

Generally, retroactive funding is not possible. However, there are certain instances where it may be possible. Please contact isp.funding@ubc.ca for specific guidance.

For ISI Special Fund projects that require ethics approval, is there a preference for proposals that have already been reviewed and approved by a Research Ethics Board?

There is no preference, but if you already have the ethics approval, the funds can be released as soon as they are available. If you do not have the ethics approval yet, state in your proposal when you are planning to apply.

Are post-docs eligible for the ISI Special Fund?

Post-docs are not eligible for the ISI Special Fund. However, they are eligible for the ISI Fund Stream 1: Innovative Projects and Stream 2: Transformative Projects.

What does one-time-only mean?

The ISI Special Fund is offered one-time-only. This means the Special Fund will not be available in future cycles of the ISI Fund.

Key Dates:

Application deadline for Special Fund: Thursday, July 28, 2022, at 3:00 p.m. (PDT)

Upcoming Information Sessions:

There are no Information Sessions scheduled at this time.