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April 19, 2013

Grad students get funding alternative

Seven projects designed and run by graduate students have received funding in the inaugural round of the Graduate Student Innovation Grant. This newly established source of funding offers up to $5,000 per project for graduate students in the academic divisions and professional schools to pursue innovative ideas on campus.

“We feel that graduate students know better than anyone what their own needs are and how best to meet those needs through supportive programming to achieve academic, professional, and personal success,” said Brooke Noonan, director of graduate student affairs.

The new program has a similar purpose to the Uncommon Fund, which is open to all students on campus.

“The Graduate Innovation Grant is intended to complement the Uncommon Fund. We realize that institutional funding for student initiatives is limited,” Noonan said. “The Uncommon Fund’s FAQ Web page directs students to other sources of funding but doesn’t have any concrete suggestions of sources for graduate students in particular. Now the Graduate Innovation Grant can work to fill that gap.”

A committee of University professors and graduate administrators selected seven projects, varying from a forum on U.S.–China relations to the Chicago Art Journal, out of the 10 submitted proposals.

Alisha Jones, a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Music, is spearheading one funded project. “Move and Shake” consists of a retreat for women of color that provides a space for discourse on how to navigate their multiple identities.

“Among the University of Chicago graduate student events, there is a need for a retreat for women of color to explore the intersection of their professional, personal, and social experiences,” Jones said.

Noonan said the continuation of the grant would depend on the success of this year’s projects.

“We were delighted with the number and quality of proposals for this inaugural competition…. Offering the Innovation Grant for the first time was something of an experiment. In the coming months, we will evaluate the winning proposals’ impact on students and determine the financial investment in the project going forward.”

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