Exploratory Award

Exploratory Award (PDF)

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Exploratory Research in Mathematics Education Award

Request for Proposals for Funding by CPM Educational Program

Details and Submission Guidelines

Submission Deadline:  June 1 at 11:59 pm PST

Award Duration: 1-2 Years

Number of Awards Available:


Applications should be submitted in pdf form to by the deadline. Late proposals will not be accepted. Please send questions to

Template: Please use this template for your proposal: CPM RFP Template_Force Copy

Decision Announced: October

Funding Cap: $50,000

Applicant Qualifications: Applicants must be educational researchers with doctoral degrees in mathematics education (or a related field) employed by either a university or research organization.
Disclaimer: CPM reserves the right not to select an awardee if the proposals received are of insufficient quality or are not of interest to CPM, or if circumstances affecting CPM make it against CPM’s best interests to fund research. 


CPM Educational Program (“CPM”, is a California nonprofit 501(c)(3) corporation dedicated to improving grades 6-12 mathematics curriculum and instruction. Therefore, one of the goals of CPM is to support research on problem-based mathematics learning, as well as on the strengths and limitations of particular designs for professional learning around instruction aimed towards such learning. To this end, CPM offers award opportunities to fund educational research that will contribute to the understanding of how to improve mathematics teaching and learning in grades 6-12 in the United States. These awards support research that build theory, develop methodological tools, and establish knowledge around four key features of secondary mathematics education: curricular materials, teaching, learning, and/or professional learning. 


CPM wishes to fund research that serves the wider mathematics education community by leading to the development of theory and the improvement of practice. CPM encourages research proposals that consider important educational questions that can inform mathematics education in areas such as curriculum design, teacher education and professional learning, and ecological features that support teacher or student learning. All funded research proposals will (a) be consistent with the mission and support the vision of CPM, (b) offer insight into ways to improve mathematics teaching and learning at the secondary level, and (c) demonstrate the potential to lead to publishable results to support the broader mathematics education research field. Examples of topics relevant to this call for proposals include but are not limited to:

  1. Fostering teacher learning and instructional change, such as through (a) virtual coaching, (b) virtual professional learning events, or (c) the development of tools that support teacher learning
  2. Supports designed for students who have struggled to develop long-term positive relationships with school mathematics
  3. Effective ways to use technology to support students’ learning, whether of particular topics or in the development of productive mathematical dispositions (not whether or not a particular technology changed test scores)
  4. Community math activities, such as at family math nights to educate parents on the mathematics their children will be learning
  5. Anti-racist practices for 6-12 mathematics education and teacher professional learning

Research questions do not need to focus centrally on CPM or be solely about CPM, but all proposals should make clear how CPM materials or professional learning are involved and a good fit for the project’s goals. Research about textbook content alone can focus on student or teacher versions of curriculum and should involve the most recent version of textbook materials.

All proposed project must include at least one deliverable that supports the practice of mathematics education. Examples include but are not limited to frameworks for curriculum design, teacher observation tools, surveys, and design principles for professional learning workshops. CPM will have the right to use deliverables to support the teachers and students who use CPM materials and professional learning

Because of the paucity of video available from collaborative, problem-based mathematics classrooms at middle- and high-school levels, studies that can increase the number of video cases usable in teacher education and professional learning are highly encouraged, not required.

Research proposals to evaluate curricula will not be considered. For example, a research question such as, Do students persevere more in problem solving in CPM classrooms compared to other classrooms?, will not be considered for funding as such questions are not designed to produce findings useful for improving mathematics education outside of CPM contexts.

Proposals that evidence or are likely to propagate a deficit perspective of teachers will not be considered for funding.


Proposed research must come from institutions or organizations (not individuals) supporting educational research in the United States, have a single Principal Investigator (PI) with a doctorate in mathematics education or in an equivalent field, and can have up to two co-PIs. The institution(s) or organizations can contract with other institutions (for example, if one of the co-PIs works at a different institution). CPM will communicate with and fund the primary institution as the institute responsible for the study.

All PIs and co-PIs on projects funded by CPM must be certified for research on human subjects, and, if awarded funding, receive and furnish evidence for IRB approval prior to starting the research.


Proposals that do not follow these formatting guidelines will be disqualified. Proposal narratives are limited to 10 pages with single-spaced, 12-point Times New Roman font, and 1-inch margins. Proposal narratives and must, at minimum, contain the following components: Research Question(s), Theoretical Framework, Research Design, Deliverables, Research Timeline, Dissemination Plan. Proposals may also include up to 5 pages total of appendices (beyond the narrative page limit) that provide supplementary tools or protocols pertaining to the proposed project, such as sample data collection instruments, tables of instructional materials, sample modified tasks, technical specifications, etc. Appendices may not be used to extend the space needed for the required elements of the proposal narrative (e.g., do not use appendices to extend the text related to the theoretical framework, research questions, etc.).


A budget table and budget justification are required. Budgeted expenses must be clearly linked to research goals, including course buyout information (must be warranted by study design), participant honorariums (note that CPM expects the time and participation of any teachers to be respected and compensated appropriately), and any relevant and necessary equipment or supplies. 

CPM textbook materials can be included in the proposed budget as needed, or an eBook license can be provided free of charge for awardees. Proposal authors who are not yet familiar with CPM are strongly encouraged to contact to access relevant information regarding CPM curricular materials, professional learning, coaching, and/or classroom implementation.

The budget must include funding for travel to and from the annual CPM Teacher Conference (held in California, typically in February) for at least the Primary Investigator in order to present emerging findings in a manner appropriate for a teacher audience. This travel will occur the year following the grant’s conclusion.  

Eligible expenses for travel to conferences (beyond the CPM annual conference) are limited to research conferences at which the proposed research results are presented. The total travel budget (beyond the CPM annual conference) is limited to $2000 per year.

As a nonprofit organization, CPM is governed by its Board of Directors and can only accept budgets that include a maximum of 10% in indirect costs. Budgetary limits are inclusive of indirect costs.

Budgets must include line items for projected equipment purchases. 

The following template must be used for the budget: CPM Grants Budget Template.


In addition, proposals must include the following elements (beyond the narrative page limit):

  • A one-page title page with project title; requested amount; names and institutional affiliations of PI, and any co-PIs, with contact information including phone numbers and emails; institution of research; start and end dates; and a brief summary of the proposed study limited to 200 words. This cover page should also clearly indicate which type of award is being proposed, a CPM Dissertation Fellowship Award, an Exploratory Research Grant, or an Extensive Research Grant
  • References for citations within the narrative.
  • Biographical outline (1 page for each investigator, including the PI and any co-PIs), including education, a list of relevant publications, information about teaching experience that supports this research, and prior experience with CPM. Also include information on current and previous grants and a paragraph on broad research interests. For CPM Dissertation Fellowship Awards, a biographical outline of the dissertation chair or director must also be submitted.
  • Submit proposals as a single pdf document via email to with pages in this order: Title page, Proposal narrative, References, Budget table and justification, Biographical outline(s), and Appendices.
  • Indicate whether permission for the study by schools or districts has already been granted. While pre-approval is not a requirement, proposals must indicate what progress has been made toward identifying and securing permission from participant schools and districts.
  • If applicable, include a list of which CPM textbook(s) will be included in the study with title and year of publication. List should indicate whether teacher and/or student versions will be used. 


Proposals will be reviewed by a series of sub-committees composed of established and early career scholars employed by universities rather than CPM, as well as CPM teacher leaders or other CPM employees whose daily work is closely tied to the practical work of teaching. The review process is rigorous and attends to each of the above areas in detail, including how each section supports the overall goal of the proposed research and the ways in which the proposed research will contribute to existing research. Please be sure to attend to each area carefully so as to construct a coherent proposal, while also attending to page limits and feasibility of research within the timeline and budget. Review categories include:

  • Alignment with the mission of CPM
  • Relevance to CPM, regardless of whether or not the project is set in a CPM context
  • Improvements in educational practice for participants
  • Benefits stakeholders outside of the research context
  • Clear and significant research questions
  • Coherence and detail within and across the sections of this proposal
  • Feasibility
  • Plan for dissemination of research findings
  • Qualifications of the PI and other project personnel
  • Appropriateness of the budget


  • The official start and end dates of funded projects, although indicated on proposals, will ultimately be mutually agreed upon by awardees and CPM. Funds will not be delivered until CPM is satisfied with project dates that align with both CPM and researcher needs.
  • The PI must present at the Annual CPM Teacher Conference (held in California, typically in February) to support the learning of teachers and mathematics education leaders the year after the project concludes. This presentation must be in person and be accounted for in the budget. Presentation slides and plans must be emailed to one month in advance. In addition, all awardees will be required to attend a session to share their research and network with other awardees. 
  • Awardees are expected to agree not to accept any other grant, fellowship, or award that provides duplicate benefits supporting the same aspect of the proposed research project.
  • Awardees must file progress reports annually on January 15 and July 15. Progress reports include information about project status, dilemmas encountered, any dissemination activities, and emerging research findings and must follow the CPM Research Awards Progress Report Template. Reports should be sent via email to
  • PIs and co-PIs must attend every other month meetings with CPM’s research faculty and other awardees to share their progress and dilemmas and engage in collaboration. 
  • Before the award is disbursed, awardees must provide CPM with a headshot and biographic sketch relating to the proposed research, along with their project’s abstract, to be posted on a webpage for CPM’s Research Grants Program. 
  • During the funding period, awardees will share in-progress findings with CPM upon request, such as through virtual meetings. In addition, awardees will share with CPM any in-progress and finalized tools, frameworks, etcetera that they develop through the grant, and CPM will give the awardee credit if the deliverables are used by CPM. The IRB must include provisions for sharing such in-progress research. For example, CPM may wish to share anonymized transcript excerpts in its professional learning events to support teacher learning.
  • Awardees will provide CPM copies of publications and presentations resulting from the project.
  • At the conclusion of funding, all awardees will provide CPM with a detailed report of the project’s outcomes. All awardees will submit a 10-minute video (approximately) explaining their research’s focus and its significance, findings, and implications for practice. Both will be posted on a CPM website.

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Algebra Tiles Blue Icon

Algebra Tiles Session

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  • Concrete, geometric representation of algebraic concepts.
  • Two-hour virtual session,
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