Instructions for Submitting Proposals to the American Family Funding Initiative

The American Family Funding Initiative application window has closed. We will open the next round of funding in January 2023.

UW–Madison faculty and academic staff with permanent PI status are eligible to apply. NetID authentication is required to open, create, and submit applications in Apply, which is the submission platform we are using for this competition. The project PI must start and submit the application. Once an application is opened in Apply, PIs can add co-PIs, students, administrators, and other proposal collaborators to the application using the “Add collaborator” button within the application, on the left side of the screen. PIs can choose to give collaborators viewing or editing permissions.

There are two phases to the application process.

Phase I

The first phase of the application process involves the creation of your proposal and submission through Apply. Specific steps are described below.

This is an accordion element with a series of buttons that open and close related content panels.

Step 1: Create a WISPER record for your proposal submission

In general, the WISPER record will be completed in the same way that grant and contracts are typically completed. However, there are some differences and special instructions listed below. 

    1. Special Instructions 
      1. General Tab
        1. Administering Department – Use your home department
        2. Document Type – Select FixPricCon
        3. Proposal Type –
          • Select New if this is first time submission.
          • Select Resubmission if this is a revised proposal from a previous round. Be sure to include the related reward record from the previous submission.
          • Select Continuation if this is the renewal of an ongoing project. Be sure to include the related reward record from the originally funded project.
        4. Sponsor – Select American Family Mutual Insurance
        5. Primary Sponsor –  Leave blank
        6. Submission Method – Select Email
        7. Submission Instructions – Type “Please review and provide RSP cover letter. Proposals will be submitted via Apply by the PI. Please provide a signature page that we can include as verification of SO approval for the final submission.” 
        8. The rest of this tab should be completed like any other grant or contract submission.
      2. Approvals Tab
        1. Initiate all required budget approvals for a grant/contract submission. This varies based on department and division, but often include:
          1. Home Department
          2. Other Involved Departments
          3. All relevant Division Approvals

Step 2: Complete the application components

Complete applications will include the following components:

  • A Statement of Work, limited to 2 pages, saved as a PDF and uploaded to Apply. All figures and graphs must be included within the page limit. Citations and references can be uploaded as a separate document (see below). Because we are using a blind review process, the statement of work must not include any identifying information (e.g., do not include PI name, contact info, department, names of collaborators or personnel). The statement of work should include the following:
    • Project description
      • What are the problem(s) you are trying to solve?
      •  What specific topic(s) of interest to American Family does your proposal address? How are the problem(s) you are trying to solve relevant to these topic(s)?
      • What are the innovative features, the potential impact and the significance of the research?
      • How will the project be transformative for the field? Why is this research important?
    • List of deliverables: These should be tangible deliverables.
      • Examples include: code, reports (multiple or final), models, etc.
      • Each deliverable should be noted as standard or proprietary, based on the definitions found here.
  • A detailed Budget, saved as an Excel file or PDF and uploaded to Apply. NEW THIS YEAR: You must create your budget using our standard budget form. The form shows allowable expenditures and will calculate UW negotiated fringe and indirect cost rates, which must be included within the maximum award limit of $100,000. We are using a MTDC budget model.
  • A Budget Justification, limited to 2 pages and saved/uploaded as a PDF. This document should describe the role that all personnel will play in the project. Salary may be requested for faculty, academic staff, postdocs and graduate students. Other allowable expenses included on the budget form should be described in the budget justification.
  • Optional Documents
    • References or Citations, limited to 2 pages and saved/uploaded as a PDF. As a general principle, proposals should stand on their own merit and be self-contained. While PIs may choose to cite previous work, this should be done by reference number [2]. Reviewers will not see the references pages.

Step 3: Upload all application components to WISPER, route for signatures, and upload completed application to Apply

All documents created in Step 2 should be uploaded to WISPER and routed for signatures from signing officials. You will need to upload the signature page to Apply.

Completed proposals should be submitted following the directions in Apply. When submitting your proposal, you must complete a Cover Sheet within Apply. You can save and return to this cover sheet before submitting your application. The cover sheet includes:

  • Project title
  • PI name, title, department, email address, and NetID
  • Project collaborators
  • WISPER record number (MSN#)
  • Project continuation status
  • Alignment with American Family topics of interest
  • Abstract, written in non-technical language and limited to 250 words. If proposals are awarded funding, abstracts submitted will be shared in press releases and on the DSI website.

Phase II

After initial review, a subset of submitted proposals will be selected to move to the second phase. Projects that reach this phase will be asked to complete a Computing and Data Management Plan. PIs will also be required to confirm that they have read UW’s Master Research Agreement with American Family Insurance. Please complete this form to request access to this document.

Questions? Start with our Frequently Asked Questions. If you have questions about the application process, please email For other project-related questions, please contact