Apply for a UConn IDEA Grant

Submit an Application
IDEA Grant Application Questions
Successful Proposal Writing
Reading and Background Research
Qualifications and Personal Statement
Preparing a Budget
Preparing a Timeline
Letters of Recommendation
Supplemental Materials
International Travel

The strongest UConn IDEA Grant applications will show a thorough understanding of the self-designed project that is proposed. Get started by reading the information below on preparing a successful application.

Plan to spend time working through your project proposal, budget and timeline on your own and in conversation with faculty mentors and advisors. OUR Advisors are also available to assist you with preparing your application materials. You can schedule an appointment with IDEA Grant program coordinator Melissa Berkey or contact her through email at to discuss your application.

Submit an Application

The application is closed.
Please check back in the fall for information on the next application cycle.

Application Deadlines:
Summer 2024 Funding: Friday, December 8, 2023, 11:59pm
2024-25 Academic Year Funding: Friday, March 8, 2024, 11:59pm

IDEA Grant Application Questions

The PDFs below provide you with an outline of the questions you will be asked in the online IDEA Grant Application. Use the outlines to prepare your answers before you begin completing the online application. Please note there are separate PDFs for individual applicants and for group applications.

Students, please be aware that the final question on the application will ask you to certify that you have prepared your application materials in accordance with University standards for academic integrity. You can learn more about academic integrity at

Application Deadlines:
Summer 2024 Funding: Friday, December 8, 2023, 11:59pm
2024-25 Academic Year Funding: Friday, March 8, 2024, 11:59pm

Successful Proposal Writing

Your ability to effectively describe your project in a compelling way to an audience that may or may not have technical knowledge related to your project can impact the decision to award you an IDEA Grant.

Proposal writing takes time. Start early! Begin drafting your proposal well before the deadline, giving you time to revise, edit, and rewrite as much as necessary, and to seek feedback from faculty mentors, advisors, and writing tutors. Applicants are encouraged to review the scoring rubrics used by the review committee to assure they meet the criteria associated with strong proposals.

Successful UConn IDEA Grant proposals will:

  • Provide a clear and detailed plan for achieving the project goals and objectives
  • Present a project plan that is feasible and realistic
  • Describe the project in a way that is clear to an audience of non-specialists
  • Articulate the origins of the project and how you developed the project idea
  • Articulate how the project will make an original contribution to knowledge, understanding, or practice in an academic field, community, or other relevant context
  • Describe one or more audiences for the results, products, or performances that will be generated from project work, as well as how the audience(s) will be reached
  • If relevant (when projects involve human subject or animal research), have appropriate University IACUC or IRB approvals or outline the steps that will be taken to obtain such approvals
  • Present the project in a concise manner that is free of grammatical and spelling errors
  • Follow application instructions carefully and stay within designated page and character limits

Begin by brainstorming answers to the following questions:

  • Why am I proposing this project? What issues/problems/questions will I explore and answer?
  • What are my goals for the project and how will I accomplish those goals? What do I hope to realize as a result of my efforts?
  • What am I hoping to gain or learn from this experience? Why is this project important to me?
  • What steps will I need to take to complete this project? How will I go about each step?
  • Is my topic too broad or too narrow? Is it feasible?

Use your answers to begin crafting thoughtful responses to the prompts provided in the online application.

Write your project proposal in the first person. Reviewers want to know what you intend to do and what you are taking responsibility for. If you will be receiving assistance from others for particular tasks or steps in the research, indicate that, but also clearly note your role.

Applicants are encouraged to have their writing reviewed and critiqued prior to submission. Meet with the IDEA Grant program coordinator to review your proposal. Seek feedback from a writing tutor, faculty mentor, advisor and others whose opinions you trust. Attend a workshop at the Writing Center and review their resources on writing personal statements for additional guidance.

Academic Integrity
Please be aware that the final question on the application will ask you to certify that you have prepared your application materials in accordance with University standards for academic integrity. You can learn more about academic integrity at

Reading and Background Research

Every IDEA Grant project is unique. The structure and information provided in the reading and background research section of the application will vary by project type.

Use the prompts below to tailor your content to fit the type of project you are proposing. For additional guidance on what to include in this section, please schedule an appointment with IDEA Grant program coordinator Melissa Berkey through Nexus or email (

Research Projects: Discuss and reference foundational literature you’ve reviewed that informs your research question(s), objectives, and methods, and demonstrates your understanding of the research topic.

Early-Stage Entrepreneurial Projects and Prototype Development: Describe how you’ve evaluated the need your proposed product or service will address, the market for such a product or service, and/or the viability of your prototype idea. Discuss similar products or services that have been developed and/or are currently available to consumers, and how your product will differentiate itself from the competition.

Creative and Artistic Projects: Discuss your artistic influences, and/or discuss research you’ve done on artistic endeavors, performances or films that address topics similar to your focus. Describe how your work differs from what has been done or what is currently being done.

Service-Oriented Projects: Describe information you’ve gathered to determine the needs of the population or community your project intends to serve. Discuss the services already offered and/or organizations that are serving your target population or community, and how your initiative will fill the needs not currently being met by existing programs or organizations.

Qualifications and Personal Statement

The qualifications section of the application gives you a chance to describe your background and preparations as they relate to the proposed project, and explain the skills you bring to the project.

Consider your academic preparations, research experiences, job or internship experiences, volunteer work, creative projects, and any other experiences that have given you a relevant skill set or perspective. It is important to go beyond simply stating that you have had particular experiences or taken specific classes. Expand on these experiences and explain to the review committee why they matter, what you learned from those classes or experiences, and how they prepared you to engage in the proposed project work.

Your personal statement is an opportunity for you to explain your motivations and interest in the proposed project. Use this space to explain why the project is personally meaningful to you, what you hope to learn from the experience, and how completing the project will impact your personal and professional development. Show a connection between the project and your academic studies, future plans, or personal interests, and explain how the work will impact your goals

Preparing a Budget

A UConn IDEA Grant may award funding up to $5,000 per project for the expenses of carrying out approved work. When preparing your budget, you should concentrate on identifying expenses directly associated with your proposed UConn IDEA Grant project. Project expenses do not include the normal expenses of being a student, such as course tuition and fees, room and board costs, and personal expenses.

Spending time carefully and thoughtfully planning your expenses demonstrates to the selection committee that you are taking your project and your application seriously. Careful planning will also help ensure you will have enough funds to complete your project, minimizing the risk of coming up short.

Begin by considering and outlining each step of your project, making note of supplies, materials, and expenses associated with each step. Consumables and expenses should be budgeted using reasonable estimates, documented to current costs. You may need to consult a faculty mentor for consumables associated with research projects to determine estimated costs.

There will be an opportunity for IDEA Grant recipients to refine and finalize their budgets before beginning project work, but it is preferable for applicants to submit a budget that is as accurate and realistic as possible.

Use the Preparing a Budget information sheet, IDEA Grant Budget Template, and the IDEA Grant Budget Examples to assist you with developing your project budget.

Please note that there are limitations to how the funding can be used. Not all purchases and expenses are allowable. Please review the Preparing a Budget information sheet as a starting point.

Students are encouraged to speak with the IDEA Grant program coordinator about their budget and intended expenses to assure there are no conflicts and that proposed expenses fall within the program funding parameters. Appointments can be scheduled with Melissa Berkey through Nexus or email (

UConn IDEA Grant Stipend Policy

A stipend will only be considered when time spent on the IDEA Grant project takes away from time that would otherwise be spent working. You may not receive both academic credit and a stipend for work on your IDEA Grant project.

For academic year projects students may not exceed 10 hours per week of project work while classes are in session. Students may receive stipend funding for more than 10 hours per week during breaks. The maximum stipend for an academic year project cannot exceed $4,000, though most stipends will be less than $4,000.

Preparing a Timeline

Provide a timeline for completing your project, including start and end dates and a listing of planned project milestones. For the application, your timeline represents your best estimate of the hours required and the timing of milestones. It is important to provide a clear, feasible, and realistic timeline for the proposed work to be completed. As part of the development stage of a UConn IDEA Grant, an updated timeline for the project will be developed and agreed upon with your project mentor.

Tips on Timeline Development
There is not one way to go about developing a timeline; everyone’s project and process is different. One method that works well for many people is to work backwards. Start by considering your end goal and then outline the major steps you will need to take to get to that end goal. From there, break each step down further into smaller tasks associated with each step, and honestly evaluate how much time you feel it will take you to accomplish each task, factoring in other commitments you may have. Think about what you will have achieved or produced through each of those steps and tasks in order to identify project milestones. Remember to include communication with your project mentor as part of your timeline.

You may find, once you’ve laid out the steps to accomplish your goal and a timeline for accomplishing the steps and tasks associated with each step, that your project will take longer than you originally estimated. Re-evaluating the feasibility of a project is part of the process of developing an application. If you find yourself in this situation, talk with your faculty mentor or with an OUR Advisor about options for adjusting your timeline or possibly adjusting the scope of your project to make it feasible.

Timeline Examples and Templates
You can use the IDEA Grant timeline templates to begin outlining your project timeline, though please note that using the templates is optional; you are welcome to structure your timeline in a way that is most useful to you and most appropriate for your project.

Refer to the IDEA Grant sample timelines for examples of how other students have broken down their projects and structured their timelines.

Students applying for summer funding have an opportunity to make a substantial commitment of time over the summer to their projects. Proposals from students who plan a substantial summer work commitment (near full-time commitment for 9-10 weeks) are encouraged. Part-time projects for shorter or longer periods are also possible.

Students applying for academic year funding should tailor their work hours to their other commitments, including their academic course load. Work done during the academic year while classes are in session should not exceed 10 hours per week. The UConn IDEA Grant project is an academic enrichment activity intended to enhance, not pull focus away from, a student’s degree program.

Letters of Recommendation

Two letters of recommendation must be submitted as part of your UConn IDEA Grant application.

  • 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 (faculty, advisor, instructor, professional staff member) or another university (faculty, advisor, or other professional staff member), a high school teacher, a current or former employer or supervisor, or a mentor in the wider community.

In addition to the two required letters of recommendation, you have the option to submit a third letter of recommendation to support your project proposal. The optional third letter may be from a project mentor, faculty member, professional staff member, or other community mentor.

Please note, letters of recommendation from high school teachers will only be accepted from applicants in their first- or second-year of study. Recommendations from fellow undergraduate students or from family members will not be accepted.

If you have secured project mentorship prior to applying, you are strongly encouraged to ask your project mentor to write a letter of recommendation in support of your proposed project; the letter should also state their willingness to mentor your project.

Our information sheet on asking for a letter of recommendation addresses common questions and provides advice on how to approach faculty and other professionals. In addition, our Information Sheet for Recommenders gives you the information you will need to provide your recommenders after they agree to write a letter on your behalf.

Group Applications
Each group member is required to supply two letters of recommendation, with the option of requesting a third letter of recommendation, that specifically address their individual qualifications and preparation to undertake the proposed project.

If multiple group members have the same recommender, then that recommender can write one letter that specifically names and addresses the individual qualifications of each group member. That letter will need to be submitted separately for each applicant addressed in the letter. 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.

Deadlines for Submission
Summer 2024 Funding: Friday, December 8, 2023, 11:59pm
2024-25 Academic Year Funding: Friday, March 8, 2024, 11:59pm

You will request letters of recommendation via the Quest Portal online application system by entering the name and email address of the recommenders who have agreed to write letters on your behalf. The system will send your recommenders and individual link for the recommendation submission.

Recommenders should follow the link emailed to them in order to upload their letter of recommendation. Letters should be submitted online no later than the application deadline.

We recommend you start your application in the online system and request recommendations well before the application deadline to give your recommenders enough time to submit their letters prior to the application deadline.

Supplemental Materials

As part of the UConn IDEA Grant application, you are given the option of uploading additional supplemental materials to further explain, illustrate, or augment your application. Not all students will need to utilize this section, it is optional.

Use this section to provide reviewers with relevant and important information or visual content that does not fit in other sections, and that helps reviewers understand and evaluate your project and qualifications.

Below are some examples of supplemental materials students have included with their application.

• Charts, figures, or graphics that illustrate key steps or elements of the research plan
• Sample lesson plans or educational modules
• Preliminary design schematics or drawings
• Video footage of a preliminary prototype in action
• Audio recordings of performances or original music compositions
• Art portfolios demonstrating qualifications
• Links to YouTube or Vimeo pages with examples of instructional videos or short films created by the applicant(s)
• Preliminary survey or focus group questions

Up to 5 files can be submitted with your application. For large files, such as video files, consider having the file available through an external site. In the supplemental materials section, provide the link to the site and explain what reviewers will find see when they click the link.

International Travel

Students interested in traveling outside the United States as part of their projects must demonstrate that they have made adequate preparations for the logistics and challenges of research and creative work abroad. While these preparations can be furthered and finalized during the development stage of the IDEA program cycle, the review committee will look for evidence that applicants have begun researching these matters as part of their assessment of the viability of the project.

Applicants proposing international travel as part of their IDEA Grant project will be required to answer additional questions related to their travel plans. Use the questions in the PDF below to guide your background research and preparation. You are also encouraged to schedule an appointment with IDEA Grant program coordinator Melissa Berkey and your faculty mentors to discuss your plans.

UConn IDEA Grant International Travel Application Questions

Travel Restrictions
The UConn IDEA Grant will not support travel to any country with a U.S. Department of State Travel Warning or Travel Alert except pursuant to a waiver approved by the Provost’s Office.

For more information on the waiver process, please review the following University travel policies.