CHICAGO – The University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy's municipal finance center is offering grants for academic research projects on topics that range from public sector pensions and bond financing to infrastructure, taxation, and the politics of public finance.

The center for municipal finance's aim is to fund research that generates innovative ideas and approaches on government finance related topics. "Preference will be given to projects with the potential to influence public policy," the center said.

The center is accepting request for proposals from researchers in public policy, economics, political science, sociology, law, and related disciplines. It will award two to three grants of up to $50,000 this year with possible renewal in 2017. The center will begin reviewing applications on Oct. 30.

Additional information is on the center's website at http://harris.uchicago.edu/centers/municipal-finance/research-grants.

The center also recently hired Amanda Kass to serve as its assistant director. Kass previously served as research director for the Center for Tax and Budget Accountability where she worked since November 2011.

The Center on Municipal Finance recently won a $1.75 million grant to expand its work. Michael Belsky, a 30-year veteran of the public finance field and a former suburban mayor, took the job of executive director.

The center intends to put together a comprehensive database with city and state financial and pension data and default and privatization information that will allow for in-depth research and direct comparisons among governments. It would be available for use by academics and local government officials and by industry professionals working on financing ideas.

"We hope to be a national resource for governmental practitioners, industry participants and academicians seeking to improve the fiscal sustainability of cities and states," Belsky said in a previous interview.

The center is also broadening its CFO Forum established several years ago in conjunction with the mayor's office, former city CFO Lois Scott, and the Governing Institute.

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