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Announcing the 2016-17 Innovation Challenge

September 16, 2016

​​Dear Students, Staff and Faculty:

When I wrote to the Smith community on July 13, I made a commitment to “create funding opportunities to support research, teaching, learning and activism that aim to address real world problems, especially racism which lies at the heart of so much violence in the world.” Today I am pleased to announce the creation of a new competitive funding opportunity—the 2016-17 Innovation Challenge: Advancing Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity—to support projects that strengthen our community and beyond.

I will be designating $150,000 from a President’s Discretionary Fund to establish the program, a pilot project aligned with our new strategic plan.

I invite all current students, staff, and faculty to propose innovative projects for funding consideration. Proposals will be due October 14. Proposal guidelines and a submission form can be found at

As you develop your proposals, please consider the following:

  • Funded projects should demonstrate innovative approaches to teaching, research and/or activism related to inclusion, diversity, and equity.
  • Individuals as well as teams of students, staff and faculty may apply for funding.
  • Proposals should address how projects can be replicated or scaled for greater impact.
  • Projects that are currently being funded from other college sources (e.g., faculty research funds, student activities funds, and so on) will not be considered for additional funding through this opportunity.
  • 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).

I will be appointing a grants review committee that will include students, staff and faculty, and their charge will be to make funding recommendations to me. We anticipate making 10–15 awards in the $10,000 range through this pilot program.

I look forward to everyone’s best ideas for demonstrating Smith’s leadership role in teaching, research and activism.


Kathleen McCartney