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Do I need a USG-supported partner in order to apply? 

Yes. Applicants who apply to PEER must collaborate on their project with a researcher who is currently supported by an active research award funded by a U.S. government (USG) agency that is participating in the PEER program. This support can include active grants, cooperative agreements, or contracts. Please see eligibility information to see the USG agencies that are participating in this PEER solicitation.

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In the 2021/2022 call, PEER invites proposals only for research projects that focus on the impacts of COVID-19 and potential solutions that can emerge from this pandemic. The COVID-19 pandemic has led to unprecedented global challenges and uncovered weaknesses in the ability of governments, the private sector, and local and international actors to deliver services and resources across many systems. This has been true in food and agriculture, healthcare, and education, among other sectors. However, the pandemic also has inspired innovation in areas such as digital technology and social organization, and there are many examples of countries or communities effectively coordinating to confront this threat. This PEER funding opportunity looks to support locally-led research projects that (1) aid in our understanding of how shocks such as COVID-19 affect key sectors in developing countries and (2) test approaches to help communities and sectors respond to and mitigate the effects of COVID-19 or similar future shocks.

Potential sectors that might be studied include but are not limited to the following:
  • Digital innovations (e.g., cashless transfers, geospatial and big data)
  • Education (e.g., effects of school closure on learning, digital solutions for remote education)
  • Agriculture and food (e.g., resilient value chains, effects of COVID-19 on food systems)
  • Women and gender (e.g., disproportionate impact of shocks, COVID-19 and gender-based violence)
  • Public health (e.g., novel approaches to contract tracing, mobile health, vaccine distribution)
PEER is interested in projects that unearth insights about the resilience of systems to shocks, supply chain responses to shocks, shocks as a driver of social and economic inequality, and the intersection between challenges within key sectors and digital solutions.

Regional collaborations among multiple countries are allowed, provided that they address research that is within the scope of the focus area and the primary PI is based in an eligible country. Co-PIs may be involved in such regional collaborative projects, provided that the co-PIs are also based in a PEER-eligible country.

Applications that explicitly connect their proposed research in the focus area to the development goals of the country’s USAID Mission will generally be more competitive. Applicants are encouraged to explore how their proposed research relates to country-specific development objectives, which are reflected in Country Development and Cooperation Strategy (CDCS) reports that are posted publicly on each USAID Mission’s homepage. Each CDCS lays out high-level strategic priorities for each bilateral USAID Mission over a five-year time frame. We encourage PEER applicants to review CDCS reports and other documents specific to USAID Mission priorities and reflect how their proposed research may contribute to these high-level objectives. A link to USAID-approved CDCS reports can be found here: A directory of USAID Missions and links to home pages can be found here:

Applicants are also encouraged to highlight how their proposal aligns with or could inform responses under one or more of the lines of effort outlined in the US COVID-19 Global Response and Recovery Framework. A link to this framework can be found here: 

Applicants who do not have a USG-funded partner are strongly encouraged to check the resources available at the COVID Information Commons, a valuable new resource that makes it easy to search for all NSF awards related to COVID. The site is also in the process of adding information about COVID-related awards issued by NIH and other agencies. By using the website's award search function at, PEER applicants can look for potential partners using key words relevant to their research interests.