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Announcing the 2017–18 Innovation Challenge

September 12, 2017

​​Dear Students, Staff and Faculty:

As mentioned in my September 6 campus letter, I am pleased to announce that, for the second year, I will be offering the Innovation Challenge Program on “Advancing Inclusion, Diversity and Equity.” This competitive funding opportunity will support innovative projects that strengthen our community.

I invite all current students, staff and faculty—individually or in groups—to propose innovative projects for funding consideration. In light of responses to the Pathways Campus Climate Survey, I am especially interested in funding ideas to advance inclusion and belonging in student houses. Last year’s funded projects included training for workers helping local refugees, an interactive leadership development program, retreats focused on navigating implicit bias, and more.

Proposals will be due October 13. Proposal guidelines and a submission form can be found at In addition, an information session will be held on Tuesday, September 19, from 4 to 5 p.m. in Campus Center 204.

As you develop your proposals, please consider the following:

  • 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 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.
  • 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.
  • Projects that are currently being funded (e.g., current faculty research, programs receiving student activities funding) will not be considered.
  • Grants may range in size from $1,000 to $10,000.

A grants review committee, which includes students, staff and faculty, will make funding recommendations to me.

I look forward to supporting our community’s best ideas to advance inclusion, diversity and equity on our campus and in our community.


Kathleen McCartney