Background: The National Institutes of Health-funded Clinical and Translational Science Awards (CTSA) have increasingly focused on community-engaged research and funded investigators for community-based participatory research (CBPR). However, because CBPR is a collaborative process focused on community-identified research topics, the Harvard CTSA and its Community Advisory Board (CERAB) funded community partners through a CBPR initiative.

Objectives: We describe lessons learned from this seed grants initiative designed to stimulate community-academic CBPR partnerships.

Methods: The CBPR program of the Harvard CTSA and the CERAB developed this initiative and each round incorporated participant and advisory feedback toward program improvement.

Lessons Learned: Although this initiative facilitated relevant and innovative research, challenges included variable community research readiness, insufficient project time, and difficulties identifying investigators for new partnerships.

Conclusion: Seed grants can foster innovative CBPR projects. Similar initiatives should consider preliminary assessments of community research readiness as well as strategies for meaningful academic researcher engagement.