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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 2019–20, grants will again be offered to fund innovative projects that promote inclusion and strengthen our community. Proposals are invited from students, staff and faculty, individually or in groups. Proposals were due Monday, November 18, and will be reviewed by a working group representing the president’s cabinet, students, staff and faculty.

Proposals were asked to follow these guidelines:

  • Projects should address one of the thematic areas of need identified by the Inclusion in Action Working Group: Identity/Representation, Education/Learning, Communication, Engagement, or Justice.
  • 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. Students should consult with a faculty member or staff member before submitting a proposal; ideally, this person will serve as a partner for the challenge grant.
  • 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.

For more information, please contact

Innovation Challenge Award-Winning Proposals