Working Group Considerations for 2020-21 Activities

Given COVID, many of you have questions about your Corridor awards and activities for 2020-21. We share some tips, below, to help guide you. And, please remember: Corridor funds are awarded for proposed activities as outlined in your award budgets, and modifications to approved budgets always require pre-approval.

 

Things to Consider

  • Working Group Award Budget: Just because you have a funding award doesn’t mean you have to spend the full amount. Unspent awards will be returned to the pool of available funds for working group proposals during the next proposal cycle.
  • Ask first before altering any proposed plans or budgets for Fall 2020 or Spring 2021. Address general questions to Aimee Germain at aagermai@syr.edu. Working groups wishing to modify their awarded budget outlines must submit a budget modification request via the Amended Activity Request form.
  • Online activities: Working groups hosting their activities online can request approval for shifting some of their award budget toward certain types of expenses, including online campus IT event support fees and accessibility services, where relevant.
    • The Hypothetical Scenarios (below) and Working Group Models (web page) help illustrate how funding might be suitably used for online activities, e.g., for honoraria (for experts, workshop or retreat facilitators, authors, etc.); accessible online formats (e.g., captioning, transcriptions); campus IT support; books or e-books; consultant or vendor fees; and more.
    • Virtual event formats should utilize campus resources and existing software, streaming, or meeting platforms whenever possible.
    • Software such as Box, Dropbox, Google Drive, Blackboard, Canvas, and others can often be used to share materials and information with working group members across institutional boundaries.
    • Department websites at your home institutions can often host event information, links to resources, and registration information.
  • Postponing activities: Working groups wishing to postpone Fall 2020 activities to Spring 2021 should notify Aimee Germain (aagermai@syr.edu) of their plans to do so. Please note, 2020-21 academic year activities cannot be postponed into the next academic year.
  • Canceling activities: Working groups that have to cancel 2020-21 activities should notify us as soon as possible. If you wish to propose that your canceled activities be hosted in the future, your working group will need to reapply for funding in a future proposal cycle.
  • Public health and safety guidelines may differ across the Corridor’s 11 campuses and the 9 counties they span across upstate New York. Please keep these differing policies in mind if you anticipate planning any in-person gatherings. Working group members from certain campuses, for example, may be restricted from anywork-related travel, per their college COVID policies. Likewise, institutions may continue to prohibit visitors on campus.

 

Things to Avoid (in Budgets and Planning)

  • Paying students: Direct payments to students are not allowed using Corridor funding. That includes both undergraduate and graduate students.
  • Paying individual people within the Corridor: The Corridor does not allow honoraria (or commissions, etc.) to be paid to employees (faculty and/or staff) at the 11 Corridor institutions.
  • Websites: Creating websites for Corridor events or groups is strongly discouraged. Maintaining websites for accuracy, accessibility, and more requires a long-term plan, and Corridor funding cannot be used for continued upkeep. Instead, consider using other tools for sharing resources among your working group participants or creating a web page on an existing departmental website.

 

Hypothetical Scenarios

  1. Working Group X has an approved activity budget of $1500 (for an invited speaker’s travel, lodging, and for a catered meal with students), plus $400 for the speaker’s honorarium. Given COVID campus hosting policies and travel restrictions, their event will now be virtual format. Since the only expense for this activity is now the honorarium, can the working group give the speaker a higher honorarium, e.g., $1500, instead of the approved $400? 
    • The answer to this possible scenario is no. The honorarium level originally proposed as suitable would remain appropriate in the new, online format. Any unused funds will return to the pool of available funding for Corridor activities in future proposal cycles.
    • However, if this hypothetical group wished to consider, for example, inviting 2 additional outside speakers for a panel discussion, then an amended budget request would be considered to pay 3 speakers an honorarium of $400 each. Note: additional speakers may not be appropriate for all activities.
  2. Working Group Y has an approved activity budget of $2500 for a 3-day conference on one Corridor campus. Since the conference can’t proceed as planned, given campus restrictions, can they, instead, host a series of events online and add some new activities, beyond what they originally proposed (e.g., performances, exhibits, publications)?
    • This hypothetical group’s creativity blossomed, as they re-thought their activity, but many of their new ideas go well beyond what was originally proposed and approved.
    • In this scenario, it would be important to distinguish re-imagined activities, that approximate the original activity and timeframe, from new activities that are wholly different or that add significantly to the kinds of collaborations involved.
    • This distinction would then help guide “Group Y” toward two possible courses of action.
    • First, to propose a shift from a 3-day conference on one campus to a series of fall online events (generally in line with their original 3-day conference but adjusts the timing and modality), they would submit an amended budget request for reconsideration among the Corridor Directors.
    • Second, for new activities which differ radically from a group’s original proposal/award (in format, timing, or both), they could pursue Corridor funding for their new ideas by submitting a proposal in a future CFP cycle.
  3. Working Group Z has an approved activity budget of $2500 (for an invited collaborator’s travel, lodging, and catered working group meals). Given COVID campus hosting policies and travel restrictions, their collaboration will now be virtual format. Could the working group re-envision their research collaboration and re-allocate some of their award to purchase the invited collaborator’s book (or a relevant book) for all the working group members, so they can collectively discuss and deepen their engagement with this scholar/in this field?
    • The answer to this possible scenario is a yes. Working groups still need to submit the amended activity request form, but the collective purchase of a book to facilitate the research group’s collaboration is something that may make sense for some groups with unspent Corridor funding. Any unused funds will return to the pool of available funding for Corridor activities in future proposal cycles.