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New Innovation Challenge Funding

News of Note

Detail of the top of the Grecourt Gates in the winter

Published January 28, 2020

This year’s Innovation Challenge grants will fund a range of programs, including new collaborations, art exhibitions and programming designed to spark discussion and awareness.

Established in 2016 by President Kathleen McCartney, the Innovation Challenge grants support research, teaching and learning programs built around themes of equity and inclusion. This year, the college will fund and implement 14 projects chosen in a two-part review process. 

In the first round, students, faculty and staff worked in Inclusion in Action teams to review applications in five areas:

  • identity/representation
  • education/learning
  • communication
  • engagement
  • justice

The Innovation Challenge Grant Committee—co-chaired by associate provost Bill Peterson and Floyd Cheung, vice president for equity and inclusion—then made final recommendations to the president. 

Award recipients

Smith College Staff Creative Arts Showcase
Coordinated by Staff Council, this on-campus exhibition will build community by highlighting the creativity and talents of Smith College staff.
Primary applicant: Maddy Neely, administrative coordinator, Smith College School for Social Work

Unravel the Myths About China—Documentary Series
A team of Smith students will collaborate to produce three documentary films designed to enrich understanding of Chinese culture.
Primary applicant: Juanchu Li ’21

Mwangi Library: Expansion and Mwangi Reads
This program will enhance and support the Mwangi Center library through improved shelving, enhanced cataloguing and student-led programming that promotes publications by women of color.
Primary applicant: Marcela Rodrigues ’20

Crafting for Community (C4C)
This project is designed to provide opportunities for Smith students, faculty, staff and local community members to connect while creating hand-made items that will be donated to organizations addressing pressing social or environmental issues.
Primary applicant: Deborah A. Day, STEAM outreach coordinator, Jandon Center for Community Engagement

Seven Sisters First-Gen Podcast
Through this podcast, first-generation students from Smith will interview and share the stories of first-gen faculty, staff and students at Smith and the other Seven Sisters colleges.
Primary applicant: Shayla Bezjak ’20

Supporting Smithies on Leave
Student volunteers will create and send care packages to students on leave, building connections among Smithies on and off campus.
Primary applicant: Abigail Smith ’20

CHOICE: Connecting Humans through Opportunities for Impromptu Casual Engagement
This one-year pilot program encourages connection through informal student-faculty, student-staff or staff-faculty interactions by covering the cost of coffee (or another drink, up to $3) at the Campus Center Cafe.
Primary applicant: Valerie Joseph, mentoring program coordinator, Clark Science Center

Building on last year’s EmPOWER conference, this week of programming will open a dialogue around issues of identity, allyship and mental health.
Primary applicant: Kelsey Parks Smith, coordinator of programs for student athlete development and enhancement 

Public Art: Short-Term Response to Recent Vandalism
In response to a recent inicident of antisemitic symbols on campus, public artist Melissa Gollance will create a large mural designed to invert and counteract the hateful image of the swastika.
Primary applicant: Kelly Otterness AC

Bridge 50th Anniversary
Working with the Office of Multicultural Affairs, a committee of students will create programming that celebrates the work of Smith’s Bridge pre-orientation program while also building a historical record that documents the program’s impact.
Primary applicant: Emily Olmos-Govea ’20

What’s an Ada? Annual Ada Awareness Day
Designed to increase awareness and support of Smith’s Ada Comstock Scholars, this event will feature a mix of fun and educational programming.
Primary applicant: Carolina Dellepiane ’20

The Consortium of Non-Traditional Programs at Selective Colleges and Universities
Through a day-long conference and creation of a professional learning network, this project will facilitate collaboration among students, faculty and staff from non-traditional students’ programs to improve policies at a range of schools.
Primary applicant: Katie McGarry AC ’21 

Solidarity, Support and Stories: Community Building for Undocumented Students
This program is designed to strengthen Smith’s undocumented community through an Interterm retreat and follow-up programming on and off campus.
Primary applicant: Raven Fowlkes-Witten ’17, program and outreach coordinator, Office for Equity and Inclusion

Hopkins House as a Food Justice Home
A student steering committee will organize on-campus programs, as well as conversations with local community members, around issues of food and justice.
Primary applicant: Julieta Rendon-Mendoza ’21