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Funding Opportunities

Marissa Zelinger Research Award

Competition Held Each Summer

The Goldstick Initiative for the Study of Communication Disorders was established in 2005 to provide support in the area of communication. The Goldstick Initiative assists in providing states, schools, and families with recommended practices thereby improving learning and living outcomes for individuals with communication disabilities.  

For 2024-2025, the Goldstick Family Initiative will provide one research award in the amount of $4,000 to enhance the research mission of the Department of Special Education and to contribute to the scholarly literature on topics relevant to Rett syndrome, including but not limited to: augmentative and alternative communication, motor and physical fitness, employment, independent living, self-determination, and technology innovations that pertain to any of these areas. These funds will be an incentive for faculty and doctoral students to work collaboratively in these focus areas. Applicants must include at least one faculty member and one student.

Phillip C. and late Beverly Kramer Goldstick are long-time supporters of the mission of the University of Illinois. They were married while Phil was pursuing his 1953 Bachelor of Science degree from the College of Business on the Urbana-Champaign campus. He followed his impressive academic and athletic career with an equally successful career as an attorney and investment advisor. The Goldsticks have been generous donors to many University and community causes through the years. Their gifts to Illinois have supported everything from student scholarships to fine arts to music to athletics to neurological research. In addition to the Marissa Zelinger Research Award, the Goldstick Initiative also provides support for the Goldstick Family Scholar, the Goldstick Family Lecture Series in Communication Disorders, and several Goldstick Family Doctoral Fellowships.


Selection criteria for the Marissa Zelinger Research Award include the inclusion and clear labeling of all required features of the proposal as specified below:

  • Clarity and persuasiveness of rationale, including relevance to Rett syndrome and potential to make an original, important, and/or novel contribution to special education practice (e.g., augmentative and alternative communication, motor and physical fitness, employment, independent living, self-determination, and technology innovations that pertain to any of these areas); 
  • Quality of research design and capacity to answer the research question(s);
  • Roles of faculty member and student in conducting the research study;
  • Budget and justification (clear, reasonable); and
  • Likelihood that the proposed research can be completed within 12 months.


Awards will be made based on merit and should include the following features:

  • Brief overview of research (abstract, research question(s), rationale, methodology, data analysis procedures, timeline for completion).  This overview should be double-spaced and no more than 5 pages.
  • Budget (list of budgeted items and their amounts; also include total budget amount. Items can include RA and grad hourly salaries, travel, research supplies and equipment).
  • Budget Justification (narrative justification for each budget item).  At the end of the budget justification, include a statement indicating whether you have received any funding to complete this research and, if so, the source, amount, and items funded.
  • Vitae of investigators. 

Recipients will be determined by a selection committee and will be introduced at the Goldstick Family Lecture during the fall of 2024. Furthermore, recipients will attend the College of Education Award Banquet in the spring of 2025.

For more information       

Contact:  Dr. Cheryl Light Shriner, Goldstick Family Scholar
Department of Special Education, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
1310 South Sixth Street
Champaign, IL  61820
(217) 333-0260 or

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