New in 2020!

A new component of the LTAW Challenge Grant program has been added in 2020; a science communication workshop. LTAW awardees will collaborate across disciplines at their university to host a workshop for students and faculty to develop and refine their ability to communicate the importance and impacts of water-related research. Awardees should recruit workshop leaders knowledgeable in science communication and participants from their university and nearby institutions. 

Workshops should be designed to help students and faculty communicate their research, related scientific concepts, and societal impacts of science to audiences that have a varied scientific background. Successful awardees will recruit workshop leaders from departments including - but not limited to - Communications, Film and Art, and Public Relations to conduct effective workshops. Workshop participants should include students, faculty, event panelists, in addition to the event organizers.

Applicants should consider proposing events in the following format: an afternoon science communication workshop (e.g.. 1-5 PM), dinner for organizers and workshop participants (can be expensed to the LTAW grant award) , followed by the film showing and panel discussion. 

To submit a proposal, click here!

Proposal Deadline: September 13, 2020 

Previously funded Challenge Grant awardees can be viewed here

Questions regarding Let's Talk About Water and the Challenge Grant program can be directed to


Let's Talk About Water Challenge Grant Program

The Challenge Grant program helps support universities in the development of their own Let's Talk About Water science outreach events by awarding universities up to $3,000 to support the development and execution of their own Let's Talk About Water Events. Organizers often work with their university, other universities in the area, student groups, and other sources (foundations, sponsors, etc.) to hold these events. 

A limited number of Challenge Grants will be awarded in June 2020 to support Let’s Talk About Water (LTAW) events in the 2020 Fall Semester. Proposals that offer some sort of cost-sharing, whether in kind or contribution of funds will be reviewed more favorably. LTAW events for this round of Challenge Grant funding should occur between August 1, 2020 and May 31, 2021. 

Challenge Grant recipients will receive film and program consultation from Program Director Linda Lilienfeld, who developed the LTAW format. Linda has 35 years of film research experience and has screened over 300 water films and designed successful LTAW events all over the world. Whenever possible, Linda (or another CUAHSI staff member) travels to the event to provide support on site. More information about the LTAW program formula can be found in this EOS article.


About Let's Talk About Water

Let’s Talk About Water brings attention to water and environmental issues by using film as a catalyst for discussion about important issues. Films can be powerful education tools for the sciences because they use storytelling to engage audiences emotionally, which:

  • heightens a general audience's interest in science content;
  • helps the audience make meaningful connections with the subject matter;
  • aids scientists in contextualizing their work;
  • and catalyzes a conversation

Documentary films are especially good at creating teachable moments and providing opportunities to apply critical thinking skills by testing the validity of the film’s message. 

The LTAW formula is simple: A panel of experts and the audience view a water documentary together followed by a moderated discussion between the panel and the audience. Moderators actively manage the discussion by challenging the panelists with follow up questions, asking questions to simplify language, and encouraging different points of view.

As a scientist, LTAW events give you the opportunity to tell the story of your work in a way that connects with a general audience.

Learn more about developing a Let's Talk About Water event by viewing the video above!

CUAHSI has developed resources for hosting your own Let's Talk About Water event. Check them out here


Student groups or university faculty are eligible to apply for a Challenge Grant, but the grant must be awarded to a U.S. university, therefore the applicant must be affiliated with a university. 

Student groups are asked to provide a letter of support from a faculty advisor. 

Preference will be given to universities that have not previously received a Challenge Grant. 


I am a student. Can I apply for a Challenge Grant?

Yes! Some of our most creative events have been organized by student groups. We ask that student groups submit a letter of support from a faculty advisor who agrees to over see the project and help with the grant management.

I’m a university staff member, not a professor. Can I apply for a Challenge Grant?

Yes! Applicants must be affiliated with a US university, but do not need to be a professor to apply.

Do in kind donations count as matching funds?

Yes, we will accept in kind donations as part of the matching funds, such as the cost of a venue or faculty’s time. Please be sure to include this in the budget.

Are indirect costs allowed in the budget?

No, indirect costs are not allowed in the Challenge Grant budget.

If selected, when will I receive the Challenge Grant award?

Notification of Challenge Grant award winners will be made in December. The Challenge Grant is awarded as a reimbursement after the completion of the event, meaning that costs should be covered by the event organizer up front. CUAHSI staff can also work with event organizers to pay directly for event costs if needed.

Do you have recommendations for films to use?

Yes! CUAHSI has created a Film Guide that includes frequently used films and ideas to engage the audience. Check it out here!

Photo Credits: Jennifer Cohen (LTAW event at Oregon State University)