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Supporting French-American Cultural Exchange in Education and the Arts

Features of the PUF Grant Program

1.1 | Objectives and Scope

Established in 2007 as a collaboration between the French government, American private donors and the FACE Foundation, the Partner University Fund (PUF) is dedicated to amplifying the potential of the brightest French and American scholars by supporting educational and research partnerships between higher education institutions in both countries.

Applicants are expected to develop new or deepened partnerships through intense collaboration.

1.2 | Eligibility

Only French and American not-for-profit institutions of higher education and/or research may submit applications to the Fund.

Institutions must be accredited by the relevant authorities (typically, ministries in France, accredited agencies, or regional authorities in the United States). Not-for-profit research institutions that are not officially linked to universities, such as the National laboratories in the United States, or EPST (Etablissement Public à Caractère Scientifique et Technologique) in France, may also apply to PUF. Other organizations, sponsors, companies, universities from other countries may be part of the project, but will not be funded by the Partner University Fund. Only the lead institutions are allowed to receive grants from PUF.

Project proposals MUST be in the field of the Humanities.

PUF and the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation define the Humanities as those academic disciplines that study the human condition through the experience of human subjects, both individual and collective, using methods of analysis and interpretation that characterize much of the work in such academic fields as classics, history, art history, literature, musicology, and philosophy—which is to say, fields that are commonly distinguished from the natural and social sciences by the breadth and variety of perspectives they mobilize, by the assertion of moral and aesthetic values that they ascribe to humanity, and by their insistence on framing statistical analyses of empirical data with narrative accounts of human experience.

Examples of the fields or disciplines embraced by the Humanities include the study of ancient and modern languages, literature, history, philosophy, religion, the visual arts, the performing arts (music, theater, film, dance), as well as some dimensions of anthropology, area studies, communication studies, cultural studies, and linguistics.

In cases in which the lines separating the Humanities and the social sciences are blurred, the final selection committee will determine which laureate projects are eligible for the higher level of funding enabled by the grant from the Mellon Foundation.

Projects must be submitted jointly by the partnering institutions. A Letter of Intent from the President, Chancellor, Head of the International Relations Office, Provost, or any comparable representative must be submitted by each institution, together with the application form. The letter template is available for download on the PUF website. The letter will confirm that the applying institutions meet PUF eligibility criteria.

These documents are mandatory and must be submitted online by March 13th, 2016 (Midnight, EST). Projects that do not meet eligibility criteria will not be submitted for evaluation

1.3 | Composition of a PUF Partnership

PUF supports partnerships between American and French institutions. Each partnership must be led by one project leader at each institution. These 2 people will be responsible for planning, implementing and coordinating the partnership.

1.4 | Eligible Activities

Partnerships must focus on advancing both research and education. They may develop the following areas :
- Faculty, postdoctoral, student mobility and exchanges
- Joint research initiatives
- Joint classes and curricula
- Creation of joint and dual Master and PhD degrees

PUF supports partnerships developed in the field of the Humanities.

1.5 | Nature of Exchanges

The PUF Grant Review Committee encourages partnerships that incorporate an equivalent number of students and faculty and create balanced exchanges between the French and American partner institutions throughout the project. These exchanges may take place through virtual learning experiences or physical faculty, student, and researcher exchanges.

1.6 | Duration of Financial Support

PUF offers grantees an annual grant that is renewable for a total of three years, and is subject to a renewal process each year. A concise statement on the planned evolution of the partnership over the 3 years is included in the application form, to allow for monitoring and evaluation.


2. Management of PUF Partnerships

2.1 | Project Leaders (PL)

Each partnership must be led by a project leader at each of the two lead institutions. This person will be responsible for planning, implementing, and coordinating the partnership. Only persons holding a Ph.D. degree are eligible to be named PL.

Once a partnership is awarded a grant by the PUF Grant Review Committee, the two project leaders will serve as the liaison with PUF regarding administrative and financial reviews of the grants.

In the event that a PL becomes temporarily or permanently unable to perform the above mentioned tasks, the partners must inform the PUF Executive team immediately and identify a new PL for the duration of the project or the duration the initial PL’s leave. The PUF partners must submit the new PL’s name and résumé to the PUF executive team for formal approbation.

2.2 | Project Monitoring

Partners must provide an annual progress report detailing the developments of the partnership over the past year and explaining the planned evolution of the project for the future years of funding.

Based on assessment of these reports, as well as ongoing discussion with grantees and possible site visits, the renewal of the grant for the following year and the possible adjustment of the level of funding, within the limits indicated in the initial application, are decided and subsequently announced to the grantees. This process provides an opportunity to qualitatively adapt PUF support according to unforeseen changes over the course of the project.


3. Financial Aspects

3.1 | Amount of Award

Thanks to the generous support of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, PUF funds up to 60% of the cost of a project in the humanities, amounting to up to $100,000 annually per project. The exact grant amount awarded each year depends on the outcomes of a yearly progress review.

Partner institutions are therefore required to obtain “in kind” and “in cash” contributions that amount to at least 40% of the project cost.

3.2 | Use of Funds

Project costs are defined as the new additional costs linked to the project submitted to PUF. The funds provided by PUF are not intended to either replace or supplement funds available for current domestic programs; they are to be used specifically to support the partnership submitted to PUF. No grants are allocated to individuals.

Institutions must provide the facilities and equipment necessary for the implementation of the partnership. However, if additional equipment is essential to the implementation of research—videoconferencing equipment for teaching partnerships, for instance— these expenses may be included in the budget request. Section 4 provides more precise information regarding allowable and unallowable uses of PUF funds.

Laureate institutions are expected to maintain a complete tracking of all expenditures from the PUF grant. Such financial follow-up is expected as part of the annual progress report made by the partners. On a case by case basis, the PUF Executive Team may allow partnerships to keep part or the totality of unused funds for the following year, based on the revised action plan presented by the project leaders.

If an award is made by PUF, the distribution of funds will be decided with the two project leaders and contracts will be drafted and signed to this effect between the partner universities and the FACE Foundation, which is legally responsible for the financial management of PUF.

3.3 | Method of Payment

PUF operates in U.S. dollars. While payments may be requested in Euros, the amount in that currency will be determined by the exchange rate against the U.S. dollar at the time of each transfer. Thus, it may vary for each annual payment to the French institution. Institutions should pay close attention to this when drafting their budget.


4. Allowable and Unallowable Expenses

4.1 | PUF Co-Funding

PUF provides co-funding for projects, aiming to support the following expenses:

Because mobility is a key tool in nurturing partnerships, PUF may cover travel, housing and living expenses for faculty, students and post-doctoral fellows.

Each institution should be deeply committed to making the stay of guest students and faculty as pleasant and accommodating as possible.

Research and Training Costs:
The purchase of supplies, equipment or services may be covered by PUF when these are essential to the new collaboration proposed. These costs must be detailed in the application. The portion of a PUF grant assigned to one partner institution may not be used to pay for services provided by the other partner institution.

Distance learning initiatives may require limited purchase of equipment. The purchase of equipment to supplement current domestic programs is not allowed.

Salaries can be paid using funds from the PUF grant in the case of research and teaching assistants that are specially hired for the purpose of the partnership, either in a research or technical capacity (post-doctoral scientists, graduate students, technicians) or in a teaching capacity (language assistants, tutors helping students involved in distance learning activities, etc.).

Conferences, Communication, Publishing Expenses:
Expenses associated with conferences or aimed at promoting work and initiatives executed by the partnership (flyers, etc.) and disseminating the results of the PUF project are allowed.

Publishing expenses, in the case of joint research (editing, translating and publishing), or training (teaching material) are allowed.

Unallowable expenses:
PUF cannot fund coordinators or project leaders for their work in setting up or implementing partnerships. PUF will not fund the work of permanent administrative staff involved in PUF partnerships.

No general overhead or administrative costs will be covered by the PUF Grant.

4.2 | Institutions Co-Funding

Co-funding is expected from the partners either as an “in cash” or an “in kind” contribution, supporting the new additional costs linked to the project submitted to PUF. The co-funding from the institutions may include new additional costs such as research costs and mobility expenses.

When specifically dedicated to the project, overhead costs can be considered as “in kind” contributions from the partner universities as part of the co-financing that they need to bring to the project.

Regarding salaries, work of project leaders or work of faculty in coordinating and implementing the partnerships can be considered as “in kind” contributions from the partner universities as part of the co-financing that they need to bring to the project.


5. Evaluation Criteria

The Grant Review Committee is independent in its evaluation of projects. The evaluation process emphasizes three major dimensions:

(1) the scientific quality and relevance of the research partnership;

(2) the impact and value added by the partnership to the existing initiatives at the participating institutions and the broader community;

(3) the level of participant preparation and the quality of project planning.

More specifically, the following dimensions have been underlined by the Grant Review Committee and the PUF board, in a non-limitative method:

5.1 | Academic and Research Excellence of the Host Teams, Pertinence of the Shared or Complementary Curricula and/or Research

Each partner’s program, whether at the master’s, doctoral or postdoctoral levels, should list the coursework being offered and exchanges in clear, well defined sections corresponding to the time spent in residency by the student on the host campus. The credit equivalencies should also be clearly stated as along with any corresponding qualification units in doctoral exchanges.

5.2 | Evidence of Institutional Commitment and Sustainability of the Partnership beyond the PUF Funding Period

The partnership should be regarded as a long-term project that extends well beyond the initial three years of support granted by PUF. A concise statement describing the vision of the planned evolution of the partnership over the three years should be included in the project summary and progress reports at the end of each year which will be requested by the Fund to ensure the sustainability of each project.

5.3 | Number of Students and Faculty Exchanges

The Partner University Fund aims to support both the qualitative and a quantitative development of the partnership. The PUF Grant Review Committee will therefore discount partnerships in which numbers of students and faculty exchanges at the master’s level are below three students in each direction.

At the doctoral level, a single student in exchange each way will not be understood by the Grant Review Committee as an institutional partnership, but rather as a doctoral grant, which is not the mission of the Fund.

The exchange of faculty is essential to the dynamic evolution of partnerships. These bring new ideas and teaching methods to the partnering institution. Faculty also help identify those students better adapted to a creative partnership and international exchange.

5.4 | Joint or Dual Degree

PUF encourages the establishment of joint and dual degree programs when relevant within the context of the partnership.

5.5 | Management of Mobility

Detailed funding arrangements relating to the living and working conditions of visiting students will be appreciated by the PUF Grant Review Committee.

5.6 | Broadening of the Collaboration

The creation of additional collaborations with surrounding research labs and institutions outside the initial host campus will also be greatly appreciated, as well as the creation of consortia of partner institutions.

5.7 | Additional Local Funding and Fund Raising

Depending on the discipline, the partnership should be able to generate interest from local sponsors, enterprises, and institutional funds other than the PUF. The PUF Grant Review Committee appreciates any leads regarding additional funding which PUF can support morally and institutionally in both France and the U.S.



Sandrine Plaud-Guérin



FACE Foundation

972 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10075