Professional Development Grants for Retirees

Speaker at podium.

We are still driven to discover.

UMRA’s Professional Development Grants for Retirees (PDGR) program provides funding for University retirees to continue their scholarship or to pursue interesting new projects. Funding of up to $5000 is available to support those efforts.

Since 2009, PDGR grants have been made to over 100 retirees from across nearly all colleges and campuses of the University of Minnesota. Those grants have covered topics such as art, statistics, social equity, science and medicine. For more information about past projects click on Previous PDGR Awards.   

PDGR grants are intended to support strong transitions into retirement. They are good for the retired person and reflect well on the University of Minnesota. A 2020 UMRA newsletter article, Impact of PDGR Awards, shows the program has been successful on both counts.

All applicants are encouraged to engage undergraduate students in their projects. The U’s Office of Undergraduate Research funds two programs that support students for 120 hours of research over and above PDGR funding. These programs are the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP) and Undergraduate Research Scholarships (URS).

Grant Cycle

The Professional Development Grants for Retirees program is an annual competition. Application opens October 1 each year and has a December 31 deadline. Winners are announced in February. Funding becomes available in April and can be spent any time over the next 15 months. A brief project report is required at the end of the project.

Eligibility and Funding

All University of Minnesota retirees from the Twin Cities, Duluth, Morris, Rochester and Crookston Campuses who are eligible for University retirement benefits and who will be fully retired by the time of their award may apply for grants of up to $5,000. A PDGR Committee will review applications and makes recommendations regarding funding.

Application Instructions

The Application Instructions describe eligible expenses and outline requirements of the application which include a project description, budget and departmental support letter. Applications may be submitted by email or as paper copies as explained in the instructions.


In 2007, the UMRA Board appointed a committee to explore a program of financial assistance for retirees who wish to continue their professional work and research. With a commitment of $10,000 seed money, UMRA gained support from the University in launching a pilot program. In 2008, the Office of the Vice President for Research and UMRA jointly announced a program of annual professional development grants intended to support faculty and staff retirees wishing to pursue projects related to their research, instruction, or other work history and that contribute to the educational, scholarly and academic reputation of the University. When possible, funding from the Provost’s Office has supplemented UMRA’s funds and currently stands at $15,000 per year.

Support the PDGR Program

University funds have been important in maintaining the program at a base level but are not sufficient for the program to grow. Accordingly,UMRA has started a campaign to build funds for the program. UMRA members and others can make a tax-deductible contribution by credit card at the PDGR crowdfunding website or by check payable to the University of Minnesota Foundation (P.O. Box 860266, Minneapolis MN 55486-0266). Please note “UMRA Fund 4867” on the check. We encourage UMRA members who have not yet made a contribution to do so and, if members have already made a contribution, to consider adding to it.

UMRA members who are 70 ½ or older, can also make a qualified charitable distribution to the PDGR program directly from an IRA and avoid paying federal income tax (up to $100,000 per year). An additional option is to support the program with a future estate gift. For more information about these options, please contact Lynn Praska, Senior Planned Giving Officer, U of M Foundation at 612-624-4158 or [email protected].

Questions about the Program

Anyone with questions or suggestions should contact John Bantle, MD, Chair of the PDGR Committee.