University of Connecticut

UConn IDEA Grants

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Program Overview
Eligibility
Application Deadlines and Timelines
How to Apply
Information for Recommenders
Information for Supervisors and Mentors
Criteria for Review and Selection
FAQ
Forms and Materials


Program Overview

Have you always dreamed of inventing the next big thing? Have you wanted to create something innovative, but didn’t have the resources? This is your chance to explore an area you have thought about for some time, or one that represents a new direction for you.

UConn undergraduate students at all campuses and in all majors can apply for a UConn IDEA Grant of up to $4,000 to fund self-designed work on a topic, project, problem, artistic product or performance, or other entrepreneurial or creative idea of their choice. The work should be personally meaningful, relevant, and engaging. The work does not need to be tied to a student’s major or minor, but it should be guided by a student’s academic goals and future plans. Students may apply individually or as part of a small group for this new undergraduate opportunity for creativity, innovation, original research, and service.

IDEA Grant Project Examples
Start a small business. Invent something. Write a series of short stories. Teach someone something new. Direct and produce a short film. Conduct a research study. Implement a community service. Build something. View current IDEA projects for more inspiration.

IN THE NEWS: UConn IDEA Grant recipients featured in The Daily Campus! Screening of two films by IDEA Grant recipients Peter Logue, David Pereira and RJ Anderson were featured in a Daily Campus article! IDEA Grant recipient Makayla Davis was featured in an article highlighting her project, “Yoga as an Innovative Stress Reduction Intervention,” which investigates yoga’s effect on stress management.


Eligibility

To be eligible to apply for the UConn IDEA Grant program in spring 2014, students must:

  • Be a UConn undergraduate student in good standing
  • Plan to graduate no earlier than May 2015
  • Agree to participate in a zero-credit online course (approximate time commitment 40 hours in the summer)
  • Commit to a minimum of 140 hours of work (10 hours per week) on the UConn IDEA Grant project in Fall 2014
    • Note: The typical summer project is more likely to be 10 weeks of 30-40 hours of work per week on the project!)
  • Arrange appropriate supervision for the period of project work by a UConn faculty member or professional staff member or someone with appropriate expertise in the wider community
    • Note: Your arrangements for supervision do not need to be finalized at the time you apply for a UConn IDEA Grant, but will need to be documented and agreed upon before the period of project work begins or any funds are disbursed.
  • Agree to present UConn IDEA Grant-funded project findings at Frontiers in Undergraduate Research in April 2015

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Application Deadlines and Timelines

The UConn IDEA Grant program involves four stages of creative thinking, planning, work, and communication that take place over at least a two-semester period. Two groups of UConn IDEA Grants will be awarded each academic year.

IDEA-Timeline

APPLICATION DEADLINES
Spring 2014: March 17, 2014, 4:00PM
Fall 2014: Date TBA (October 2014)

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How to Apply

Applications for the UConn IDEA Grant are submitted online. There are two types of applications: Individual and Group Applications. For those applying as part of a group, there is a two-step process that includes questions to be answered as a group, and questions to be completed by individual group members.

The strongest UConn IDEA Grant applications will show a thorough understanding of the self-designed project that is proposed. Get started by reading our detailed information on preparing a successful application and reviewing the UConn IDEA Grant Individual Application Outline and the UConn IDEA Grant Group Application Outline. The outlines provide you with all the questions you will need to answer and the information you will need to provide in the online application.

Plan to spend time working through your proposal, budget and timeline on your own and in conversation with faculty, mentors, advisers, friends, and family. Starting early and planning ahead will make the process a lot less stressful!

The application deadline has passed.
Applications will open again in the fall semester. Check back for updates.

INDIVIDUAL APPLICANTS: Please complete the online Individual Application.

GROUP APPLICANTS: As a group, please complete the online Group Application. IN ADDITION, each group member will need to complete the Supplemental Individual Application for Group Members.

SPRING 2014 APPLICATION DEADLINE: MONDAY, MARCH 17, 4PM

If you have questions about the UConn IDEA Grant program or the application process, contact IDEA Grants Program Coordinator Melissa Berkey at melissa.berkey@uconn.edu or schedule an appointment via AdvApp.uconn.edu under “Enrichment Programs.”
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Information for Recommenders

UConn IDEA Grant applicants are asked to supply two letters of recommendation. The first letter should be from a member of the UConn community – faculty member, advisor, instructor, or other professional staff member. The second letter may also be from a member of the UConn community or another university, a high school teacher or advisor, a current or former employer or supervisor, or a mentor in the wider community. Applicants have the option to submit a third letter of recommendation if they feel it will strengthen their proposal. The Information Sheet for Faculty Recommenders lists the topics each recommender should address and outlines the procedure for submitting letters.

Each recommender is asked to comment on:

  • The length of time you have known the applicant and in what capacity or circumstances
  • Your knowledge and familiarity with the project proposed
  • Your assessment of the applicant’s motivation, abilities, experience, and/or interests that make him or her well suited for this award and able to complete the project proposed
  • Your assessment of how this award might benefit the applicant

Students who have secured project supervision prior to applying are encouraged to ask their project supervisor to write a letter of recommendation in support of the proposed project and supervisory arrangements.

Completed letters of recommendation should be emailed by each recommender from their professional email address to melissa.berkey@uconn.edu by 4p.m. on March 17, 2014 with the subject line: UConn IDEA Grant Recommendation [Applicant's name].
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Information for Supervisors and Mentors

Every UConn IDEA Grant must have appropriate supervision. The supervisor should be a UConn faculty member or professional staff member or someone with appropriate expertise in the wider community.

The form of supervision will vary with the type of project.

  • For some students, a course may be the best way to structure project supervision: consider an independent study, research course, practicum, field experience, or internship.
  • For other students, a learning contract or other agreement with the supervisor that outlines learning objectives and a plan for accomplishing those objectives may be appropriate.

(Advice on mentoring undergraduate researchers may be helpful to some supervisors.)

A UConn IDEA Grant involves four stages of creative thinking, planning, work, and communication that takes place over at least a two-semester period. Ideally, the student will have made arrangements for supervision before the UConn IDEA Grant application is made. Students who have secured supervision prior to applying are encouraged to ask their project supervisor to write a letter of recommendation in support of the proposed project and supervisory arrangements.

Firm supervision arrangements must be in place by the end of Stage 2, which is the project development stage. UConn IDEA Grant funds will not be disbursed until a completed Supervision and Mentor Agreement has been submitted by the student and approved by OUR staff.

The UConn IDEA Grant program is an opportunity for a mentor to make a difference in an undergraduate’s university experience. With encouragement, a student who has the imagination and drive to develop a project will learn by designing and doing. Through engagement with a mentor, such a student will deepen his or her learning and have results to share with relevant audiences.
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Criteria for Review and Selection

All UConn IDEA Grant applications will be reviewed and evaluated for their quality by a committee consisting of UConn faculty members and directors of University-wide undergraduate programs.

Preference will be given to applicants who:

  • Propose creative, innovative, original ideas
  • Present a thoughtful and reasonable outline of the work to be done, timeline, and budget
  • Articulate the impact of the work proposed — both for them as individual learners and for the field — in compelling, but realistic, terms
  • Design project outcomes (products, outputs, reports, presentations, or performances) that will engage or serve an audience that is large or significant
  • Plan to share the results of their UConn IDEA Grant with one or more UConn audiences
  • Have a strong academic record or other evidence of successful pursuit of their academic passions or interests
  • Have identified at least one willing mentor to supervise their work
  • Would be unable to pursue the work proposed without the funding provided by the UConn IDEA Grant

The review committee uses the Scoring Rubric for Individual Applications and the Scoring Rubric for Group Applications to assess UConn IDEA Grant applications. Applicants are encouraged to review the appropriate rubric as they draft and revise their application materials to ensure that they meet the criteria associated with strong proposals.
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FAQ

Does my project need to be related to my major?
Can multiple students apply as a group?
Is there a limit to the number of group members that can be a part of the project?
If we apply as a group, can we get more than $4000 for our project?
I know I want to do part of my research abroad, but haven’t decided what country I want to travel to; do I need to know this before I apply?
My recommender is unable to submit his or her letter by the application deadline – does this hurt my chances of getting a UConn IDEA Grant?
Can I apply for more than one IDEA Grant?
Can I submit multiple project proposals during the same application period?
Can I start my project work as soon as I’m awarded an IDEA Grant?
When do IDEA Grant funds get disbursed?
Will getting an IDEA Grant affect my financial aid?
Will I retain ownership of intellectual property I create while completing my IDEA Grant project?
Who can I talk to if I have questions about the UConn IDEA Grant?
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Does my project need to be related to my major?

The work does not need to be tied to your major or minor, but it should be related in some way to your academic goals and/or future plans.


Can multiple students apply as a group?

Students may apply individually or as part of a small group for the UConn IDEA Grant. Students applying as part of a group will need to complete the UConn IDEA Grant Group Application, and each individual group member will also need to complete the Supplemental Individual Application for Group Members.


Is there a limit to the number of group members that can be a part of the project?

We recommend that groups be limited to 4 members, though exceptions may be considered if groups can justify the need for more than 4 members.


If we apply as a group, can we get more than $4,000 for our project?

Groups applying for the IDEA Grant are required to submit a detailed budget outlining all expenses associated with the project proposal. Group project expenses may exceed the $4,000 limit, but will need to be clearly explained and justified in the group budget. Groups are encouraged to review all budget items carefully, and when possible, find economical ways to accomplish their goals. Groups should not expect that each member will receive $4,000 in funding; all budgets will be closely scrutinized and awards will reflect justified project expenses.


I know I want to do part of my research abroad, but haven’t decided what country I want to travel to; do I need to know this before I apply?

Yes, you do. Those students proposing international travel as part of their UConn IDEA Grant application will need to answer additional questions on how they determined that the country (or countries) to which they intend to travel is appropriate for the project, their plans for navigating language barriers (if applicable), and intended travel and living arrangements while in country.


My recommender is unable to submit his or her letter by the application deadline – does this hurt my chances of getting a UConn IDEA Grant?

Applicants are encouraged to speak with recommenders early in the process, allowing them ample time to write and submit letters of recommendation. We understand that extenuating circumstances and busy schedules can make it difficult for recommenders to submit letters by the deadline. Applicants need to make every effort to ensure letters are submitted and their application is complete by the deadline; extensions will be evaluated on an individual basis and should be discussed with the IDEA Grants Program Coordinator BEFORE the application deadline. To ensure fairness to all applicants, complete applications will receive priority consideration for funding.


Can I apply for more than one IDEA Grant?

Students are limited to receiving one IDEA Grant for individual projects. If you have received IDEA Grant funds as part of a group project, you are still eligible to apply for IDEA Grant funds to support an individual project. Group project members are also eligible to receive funds to support a second group project they are participating in, though group members cannot be participating in two IDEA Grant projects concurrently.


Can I submit multiple IDEA Grant project proposals during the same application period?

Students are encouraged to focus their time and efforts towards the project they are most interested in and committed to working on. IDEA Grant recipients (group or individual) cannot be awarded funds to participate in two IDEA Grant projects concurrently.


Can I start my project work as soon as I’m awarded an IDEA Grant?

The second stage of the IDEA Grant program timeline includes a non-credit online course (taking place during summer 2014 for spring 2014 applicants) that students must complete prior to beginning their IDEA Grant projects. This course provides recipients the opportunity to refine their project proposal, re-examine their budget and timeline, and prepare to begin their projects. The course also give you time to finalize plans for project supervision and obtain research approvals, if necessary. This is an important opportunity to reflect on your project proposal and ensure you are fully prepared to engage in the work prior to starting. Once the course is satisfactorily completed, and research approvals obtained, students may begin working on their projects.


When do IDEA Grant funds get disbursed?

Funds will be disbursed to award recipients when the following criteria have been met: the non-credit online course has been satisfactorily completed; research approvals (IRB, IACUC, SCRO, laboratory safety training) have been granted and verification of this authorization has been submitted to OUR (if applicable); and arrangements for project supervision have been finalized, documented, and submitted to OUR.


Will getting an IDEA Grant affect my financial aid?

If you are a financial aid recipient (including tuition waivers, residential assistant waivers, loans, grants, work-study employment), your financial aid package may be revised as a result of this award. If you have questions or concerns about the impact of an IDEA Grant on your financial aid, you are encouraged to contact Kimberly Duby in the Office of Student Financial Aid Services at kimberly.duby@uconn.edu to discuss how this might affect your financial aid package. A point to consider: some budgets reflect your additional expenses; ask if these expenses will increase your financial need.


Will I retain ownership of intellectual property I create while completing my IDEA Grant project?

UConn Undergraduate students conducting original projects under the IDEA Grant Program will own the Intellectual Property (IP) they create under that program. This statement applies only to the IDEA Grant program and is not intended to govern IP developed by undergraduates participating in other UConn programs, including those that may be managed by the University’s Office of Undergraduate Research.


Who can I talk to if I have questions about the UConn IDEA Grant?

If you have questions about the UConn IDEA Grant program or the application process, contact IDEA Grants Program Coordinator Melissa Berkey at melissa.berkey@uconn.edu or schedule an appointment via AdvApp.uconn.edu under “Enrichment Programs.”

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Forms and Materials

Information Sheet for Faculty Recommenders

Student tips on asking for a letter of recommendation

UConn IDEA Grant Individual Application Outline

UConn IDEA Grant Group Application Outline

Scoring Rubric for Individual Applications

Scoring Rubric for Group Applications

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