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Innovation Challenge

2017–18 Innovation Challenge: Advancing Inclusion, Diversity and Equity

In the fall of 2016, President Kathleen McCartney announced the creation of a new competitive funding opportunity—the Innovation Challenge—to support projects that strengthen our community and beyond. The theme for the inaugural challenge was Advancing Inclusion, Diversity and Equity. 

For the second year, grants will be offered to fund innovative projects that promote inclusion and strengthen our community. Proposals can come from students, staff and faculty, individually or in groups. In light of responses to the Pathways Campus Climate Survey, President McCartney is especially interested in funding ideas to advance inclusion and belonging in student houses. Please see last year’s funded projects for ideas. Proposals for innovative, inclusion-themed projects are invited from September 12 through October 13. Proposals will be reviewed by a working group representing the president’s cabinet, students, staff and faculty, and should follow these guidelines:

  • Projects should demonstrate innovative approaches to teaching, research and activism related to inclusion and anti-racism efforts.
  • Proposals that take a team approach and engage students, staff and faculty in collaborative projects are particularly encouraged.
  • Projects should focus on culture change/enhancement, and especially on ideas that can be replicated at a larger scale.
  • Projects that are currently being funded (e.g., current faculty research, programs receiving student activities funding) will not be considered.
  • Projects selected for funding must be completed during the timeframe that the primary applicant is at Smith (e.g., a graduating senior may not undertake a project that extends beyond her graduation). Semester-long or calendar year projects will be prioritized.
  • Similarly, projects that are eligible for funding from other college sources will not be considered.
  • Funds may not be used to pay Smith students, staff or faculty.
  • Grants may range in size from $1,000 to $10,000.

Grantees will need to submit periodic reports on their projects.

An information session about the Innovation Challenge program and application process will be held on Tuesday, September 19, from 4 to 5 p.m. in Campus Center 204.

For more information, please contact

Working Group

  • Bill Peterson, Associate Provost and Dean for Academic Development (chair)
  • Latifa Al-Mohdar ’18
  • Katie Chong ’18
  • Zaza Kabayadondo, Co-Director, Design Thinking Initiative
  • Donna Lisker, Dean of the College and Vice President for Campus Life
  • Peggy O’Neill, Assistant Professor, School for Social Work
  • Ruth Ozeki, Elizabeth Drew Professor of English Language and Literature
  • L’Tanya Richmond, Dean of Multicultural Affairs