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Faculty Mini-Grants
AY 2021-22

Status:  Round 2 Open until 11/1/21


1  Purpose

The Spelman Innovation Lab has the objective of promoting interdisciplinary ideation, creation, design and making, particularly when such activity has a significant technical component.

The Microsoft Mini Grant Program offers faculty support for developing new teaching and projects that support the goals of the lab.  Grant proposals should fall into one of two tracks:


  • Track A grants provide a fixed amount of $3000 for course development

  • Track B grants provide up to $5000 to support Innovation Lab projects


Approximately one dozen grants will be awarded.

2  Description

Track A grants provide support for developing a course that supports the Innovation Curriculum.  That is, STEAM courses (courses that bridge STEM and non-STEM disciplines).  Example courses currently in need of development include

  • Physical Computing

  • Game Development I & II

  • Augmented Reality

  • Digital Animation

  • Sound Engineering

  • Digital Humanities


However, this is by no means an exhaustive or representative list of qualifying courses.


Track B grants provide up to $5000 to support student-engaging, interdisciplinary projects with a significant technology component.  You are encouraged to contact the lab directors (,, to review your idea prior to applying.  You may also wish to review past projects by visiting the Innovation Lab projects gallery.



3  Eligibility

For Track A, all full-time faculty or faculty teams are eligible to apply.  Faculty teams will divide the stipend.

For Track B, all faculty and staff are eligible to apply.


4  Application Cycle

Track A applications will be accepted on a rolling schedule until funds are exhausted.  You are encouraged to apply early.

Track B applications will be offered twice in 2021.  The first round deadline is June 1, 2021.  The second round deadline is November 1, 2021.



5  Requirements

Both tracks require the submission of a grant proposal.  In both cases, the review process will begin upon receipt of the proposal and a best-effort award decision will be made within 30 days.  Awardees agree to complete a pre- and post- survey  (<15 minutes) conducted by the Innovation Lab.  Awardees agree to appropriately acknowledge the Innovation Lab and the grant funders (Microsoft and Siebert Williams Shank & Co., LLC) in all presentations, publications and communications that directly result from their award.  Presentation quality logos of each organization can be found here.  Additional track-specific requirements are listed below.


Track A Requirements

  • The grant period is 1 year from the award date.  The first offering of the course must be in progress by the end of the grant period.

  • Applicants must upload a 500-1000 words (1-2 page) narrative that outlines the course description, rationale and goals to the Track A application portal.

  • Within 30 days following the grant period, the PI will submit either

    • a 2-3 page written report of project outcomes

    • a reference to a published work that resulted from the project


Track B Requirements

  • The project must be an “Innovation Lab project”.  That is, it must be largely conducted in the Innovation Lab and/or must make significant use of the resources of the Lab.  This award cannot be used to fund an existing activity.  It can, however, be used to fund an offshoot from such an activity.

  • Projects must have a significant technology component and must involve one or more students.

  • Applicants must upload a 1000-1500 words (2-3 pages) project description including an abstract, project narrative, expected outcomes, budget and budget justification in PDF form to the Track B application portal.  The budget, justification, images and any included reference materials do not count against the page limit.

  • The project must begin within 90 days of the award date.

  • The project grant period is 1 year from the start date.

  • Within 30 days following the grant period, the PI will submit either

    • a 2-3 page written report of project outcomes

    • a set of quality photographs or videos of the project with appropriate captioning

    • a reference to a published work that resulted from the project

    • Lab Branded Video Summary (2-5 min, Project Media and Content)



6  Budget

Applicants agree that if awarded, the funds will be used for described activity/project only.  Significant deviations from the stated plan should be cleared with the Innovation Lab directors.  Funds must be encumbered by the end of the grant period.  Unused funds should be returned to the program funding pool.


Track A

Grant funds will be issued directly to the awardee(s) as a lump sum within 30 days of the award date.


Track B

Awardees will receive a college budget for the awarded amount and will be the budget manager.

  • No more than 10% of the budget should be used to cover faculty salary and wages unless such an expenditure can be strongly justified.

  • When possible applicants are encouraged to leverage existing equipment in the Innovation Lab instead of purchasing new equipment.  Contact the lab directors to inquire about the Lab’s holdings and capabilities.



7  Review Criteria

Projects will be reviewed based on the following criteria:


Track A Requirements

  • Course description must clearly reflect the technology component of the course.

  • To what extent does the proposed course support the Innovation Curriculum?

  • Is the course accessible to STEM and non-STEM students?  Priority will be given to courses with no pre-requisites or only an introductory programming course (CIS 111, CIS105 or AVC 109) as a prerequisite.


Track B Requirements

  • Does the project have a significant technology component?

  • Is the project interdisciplinary?

  • Does the project engage and enrich one or more students in the Innovation Lab?

  • Is the budget reasonable?

  • Are the artifacts produced publishable or suitable for inclusion in a student portfolio?



8  Acknowledgements

Faculty mini-grants are supported by gifts from Siebert Williams Shank & Co., LLC and from Microsoft.

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