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

Is there a creative endeavor you want to engage in, or an original research project you would like to conduct? Do you have an idea for a product you would like to develop, an entrepreneurial venture you want to launch, or a service initiative you would like to implement? This is your chance to flex your creative muscles, innovate, and explore.

UConn undergraduate students in all majors at all campuses and can apply for a UConn IDEA Grant of up to $4,000 per student to fund self-designed work on a topic, project, problem, artistic product or performance, or other entrepreneurial or creative idea of their choice. Students may apply individually or as part of a small group.

The UConn IDEA Grant is an opportunity for creativity, innovation, original research, and service. The project should be personally meaningful, relevant, and engaging. The project 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.

More information on the Program, including the project development course and the experiences of UConn IDEA Grant recipients, can be found on our UConn IDEA Grant Experience page.


Eligibility

Please note that there are two application cycles. December 2014 applications are for summer funding; March 2015 applications are for academic year funding.

General Program Eligibility
To be eligible to apply for the UConn IDEA Grant Program students must:

  • Be a UConn undergraduate student in good academic standing
  • Agree to participate in a non-credit online project development course (approximate time commitment 40 hours) prior to starting project work
  • Commit to a minimum of 140 hours of work on the UConn IDEA Grant 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 project work begins or any funds are disbursed.

Summer Funding Eligibility Requirements
To be eligible to apply in December 2014 for summer funding students must:

  • Plan to graduate no earlier than December 2015.
  • Agree to complete the non-credit online project development course in Spring 2015.
  • Commit to a minimum of 140 hours of project work during the summer. The typical summer project is likely to be 10 weeks of 30-40 hours of work per week on the project.
  • Agree to present UConn IDEA Grant-funded project findings at Frontiers in Undergraduate Research in October 2015.

Academic Year Funding Eligibility Requirements
To be eligible to apply in March 2015 for academic year funding students must:

  • Plan to graduate no earlier than May 2016.
  • Agree to complete the non-credit online project development course in Summer 2015.
  • Commit to a minimum of 140 hours of project work during the academic year. Academic year projects should be no more than 10 hours per week.
  • Agree to present their UConn IDEA Grant-funded project findings at Frontiers in Undergraduate Research in April 2016.

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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.

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Four Stages of the UConn IDEA Grant

APPLICATION DEADLINES
Summer Funding: Wednesday, December 17, 2014
Academic Year Funding: Monday, March 16, 2015

There is some flexibility in the funding periods. Schedule an appointment with the UConn IDEA Grant Program Coordinator to discuss how the timeline can be tailored to meet your needs and those of your project.

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How to Apply

Applications for the UConn IDEA Grant are submitted online. 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.

Plan to spend time working through your proposal, budget and timeline on your own and in conversation with faculty, mentors, advisers, friends, and family. UConn IDEA Grants Program Coordinator Melissa Berkey is also available to assist you with preparing your application materials. You can schedule an appointment via AdvApp.uconn.edu under “Enrichment Programs.” Starting early and planning ahead will make the process a lot less stressful!

Application Outlines

The application outlines below provide you with all the questions you will need to answer and the information you will need to provide in the online application. Review the outlines before you begin the online application.


Applications for summer funding have closed.
Applications for academic year funding will open in February.


APPLICATION DEADLINE FOR SUMMER FUNDING:

WEDNESDAY, DECEMBER 17, 2014

APPLICATION DEADLINE FOR ACADEMIC YEAR FUNDING:
MONDAY, MARCH 16, 2015

If you have questions about the UConn IDEA Grant program or the application process, contact UConn 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.

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.

Recommendations for Group Proposals
Applications for UConn IDEA Grant funding are accepted from individuals and small groups. Each group member is required to supply two letters of recommendation, with the option of a third.

Recommenders who are writing letters in support of multiple applicants within the same group may write one letter of recommendation that specifically names and addresses the qualifications of each applicant. Letters of recommendation that address the group project but do not mention group members individually will not count towards meeting each applicant’s two letter requirement.

Alternately, recommenders may choose to write separate letters in support of individual group members.

Submission Deadlines
Completed letters of recommendation should be emailed by each recommender from their professional email address to melissa.berkey@uconn.edu by the application deadline with the subject line: UConn IDEA Grant Recommendation [Applicant's name]. Letters of recommendation should be received no later than Wednesday, December 17, 2014 for summer funding applications, or Monday, March 16, 2015 for academic year funding applications.

For questions on the UConn IDEA Grant Program, please contact Melissa Berkey, UConn IDEA Grants Program Coordinator, at Melissa.berkey@uconn.edu or 860-486-5189.

Serve as a UConn IDEA Grant Reviewer
The OUR is currently seeking faculty to serve as reviewers for the UConn IDEA Grant program. If you are interested in serving in this capacity, please complete our Faculty Reviewer Interest Form.
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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 Mentorship Agreement has been submitted to the Office of Undergraduate Research.

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.

Serve as a UConn IDEA Grant Reviewer
The OUR is currently seeking faculty to serve as reviewers for the UConn IDEA Grant program. If you are interested in serving in this capacity, please complete our Faculty Reviewer Interest Form.
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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 and a realistic plan for carrying out the proposed project
  • Clearly articulate the origins of the project and that the project is of their own design
  • Present a thoughtful and reasonable outline of the work to be done,a feasible timeline, and a reasonable and justified 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 audiences
  • Have a strong academic record or other evidence of successful pursuit of their academic passions or interests
  • Explain the significance of the project in furthering their academic goals or future career plans
  • 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 Proposals 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

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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.

If applying as part of a group, do I need to submit two individual letters of recommendation or can we submit two for the entire group?

Each group member is required to supply two letters of recommendation that specifically reference their qualifications. If multiple group members have the same recommender, then that recommender can write one letter that specifically names and individually addresses the qualifications of each group member instead of writing separate letters. Letters of recommendation that address the group project but do not mention group members individually will not count towards meeting each group member’s two letter requirement.


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.


Does receiving an IDEA Grant affect my eligibility for other OUR awards?

You may not receive a UConn IDEA Grant and a SURF award concurrently. If you are offered and accept a Summer 2015 UConn IDEA Grant, you are expected to contact OUR in order to withdraw your Summer 2015 SURF application from consideration.

Support for project expenses through the UConn IDEA Grant may impact your eligibility for research supply funding. Please consult an OUR staff member to discuss your individual circumstances.

Beyond the situations described above, receiving a UConn IDEA Grant does not affect your eligibility for other OUR awards.


Can I receive UConn IDEA Grant academic year funding to continue my summer SURF or Holster Scholars project?

Academic year projects should not simply be a continuation of the same activities planned for a summer project. The academic year project should either be completely distinct from the summer project, or should consist of the next steps in the evolution of the project. There must be a clear separation between what will be done as part of the summer project and what next steps will be completed with the IDEA Grant academic year funding.

At the time of application for UConn IDEA Grant academic year funding you may not know the outcome of your application(s) for summer funding. If your UConn IDEA Grant project proposal builds upon work you are hoping to do during the summer, and your ability to complete that summer project is contingent upon receiving funding, then you will need to submit a “Plan B” outlining how your IDEA Grant academic year project would change if you are not able to complete the summer project as planned.


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 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.

If I’m awarded summer funding does that mean my project needs to be done by the end of the summer? Can I start my project early and/or continue working on it during the academic year?

The funding period (summer or academic year) represents when we expect recipients will engage in the bulk of their project work. UConn IDEA Grant projects are often part of longer-term involvement in research, creative projects or other endeavors that begin and/or end beyond the funding period.


Can I apply for a UConn IDEA Grant to fund my senior project?

Projects, research and creative activities that are part of required courses or are required elements in the curriculum for your undergraduate degree program (i.e. senior projects for BFA students or design lab for engineering students), are typically not eligible for UConn IDEA Grant funding. If there are elements of your project that go above and beyond the requirements of your required course or degree program, and if your project meets the IDEA Grant criteria of being self-designed and self-directed, then you may be eligible to receive IDEA Grant funding. Students are encouraged to meet with the IDEA Grant Program Coordinator to discuss their project plan and how that may fit with the UConn IDEA Grant.


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 Proposals

Scoring Rubric for Group Applications

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