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Magic Grants for Ada Comstock Scholars

Magic Grants are intended to help Ada Comstock Scholars reach their highest potential by underwriting some of the expenses associated with internships, independent research, creative and artistic projects, and the development of innovative ideas and business plans.

Made possible by the generosity of the late writer and magazine pioneer Helen Gurley Brown, legendary editor of Cosmopolitan magazine, the college's Magic Grants program is designed to encourage imagination, creativity and high aspiration by funding innovative projects that Adas would otherwise not be able to pursue. 

Read the article about the 2016 Magic Grantees

Read the article about the 2014 Magic Grantees

About Helen Gurley Brown

Helen Gurley Brown in 1964Although she never attended Smith, Helen Gurley Brown long expressed an affinity with the college's commitment to educating women with diverse life experiences. Her papers are part of the college's Sophia Smith Collection of women's history manuscripts. Before she died in August 2012, Brown was made an honorary member of the Smith College Class of 1962, in recognition of the publication that year of her groundbreaking book Sex and the Single Girl.


Current Adas and those within two years of graduation are eligible to apply for the grants.  The deadline for submitting an application for a 2023 Magic Grant is Friday, March 31.


A committee coordinated by the Dean of the College will review applications, awarding them based on the project's potential to make a transformative difference in the life of the student or alumna and to advance her academic program or career goals.

Frequently Asked Questions

The gift was made to fund the development of highly innovative ideas including creative and artistic projects, independent research and travel, internships or seed money for a new business.

While you may apply more than once, you may receive only one Magic Grant. If you were denied funding you are welcome to apply for the following year, as long as you are still eligible.

The funding will be disbursed directly to the awardee by the controller's office. Magic Grants are considered income by the I.R.S. U.S. citizens will receive an I.R.S. Form 1099 on the income received. For non-U.S. citizens, 30 percent will be deducted from their award.

If you are not a U.S. citizen (or permanent resident) and you are still enrolled as a student at Smith, you do not need a work visa. If you are no longer a student, you will need a work visa to work in the U.S. as a non-citizen. If you do not currently live in the United States, a Magic Grant will not entitle you to come to the United States to work without a work visa.

You can use a Magic Grant outside the U.S.; however, it is your responsibility to acquire the appropriate visa, insurance coverage, etc.

The grant can support research of your own design. It is less likely that the grant would be made to continue work on a faculty member's research.

No, the grant is not intended to be used as a scholarship or aid for graduate studies.

Your budget should be very specific and must include documentation supporting quotes for such items as travel, equipment, etc. The Magic Grant Committee may request additional information. An end-of-project report and budget must be submitted within 3 months of the end date specified in your project timeline. Any unexpended funds must be returned to Smith College.

It depends on the project, and the committee will consider carefully the likelihood of the project being completed in the time proposed.

Applications may be submitted at any time and will be reviewed in the spring, and decisions made in April.

Normally, funding should be devoted to project expenses and not to living expenses or a personal stipend. Childcare can be included in your proposal in certain circumstances.

The endowed fund allows for an annual percentage of the earnings to be made available, which is approximately $25,000. Funding may range from a few thousand dollars up to $25,000. We will consider the relevance of your proposal, the transformational potential and its self-sustainability when considering whether to fund it and at what level.

Yes, as long as there are appropriate applications.