Goals of the Grant Program

[Click here for a printable announcement]

The objectives of the ACS grant program are consistent with the goals of our strategic plan: to foster professional growth and institutional capacity-building, diversity and inclusion, and cost efficiencies. See below for information on the possibilities for grant-funded collaborations. Scroll down or click here for information on the grant process and resources, including application forms and deadlines.

In addition, we encourage you to join our Grants Group on Facebook.

 

Programs

Innovative Instruction: ACS invites proposals that re-evaluate traditional methods of teaching, respond to new knowledge about how students learn, and incorporate learner-centered pedagogies and technologies. Our objective is to help faculty incorporate learning-based pedagogy and blended learning approaches. Collaborative Curriculum: ACS will prioritize multi-campus involvement in projects that, among other things, integrate study away opportunities, boost course enrollments, benefit disciplines with limited representation, and create collaborative departments or programs that can be sustained after funding ends. ACS will not dictate the appropriate models for these collaborative initiatives, but we will provide a sample proposal that would likely enjoy funding success and one that likely would not. Diversity and Inclusion: ACS will support initiatives that have the potential to make a lasting impact on institutional culture. Projects of this sort could be exclusively geared toward diversity and inclusion or could add diversity and inclusion to either of the first two categories on the left.

Possibilities

Sustain low-enrolled courses: The grant encourages faculty to think beyond traditional departmental boundaries and work with counterparts on other ACS campuses to combine low enrolled courses. (read more)

Expand course offerings: ACS invites proposals that expand offerings in order to fill curricular gaps. The grant encourages faculty to identify course offerings on other ACS campuses that could be shared across campus boundaries and/or course development opportunities with other ACS faculty to add value to existing programs. (read more)
Create new programs/departments: As course enrollments and offerings expand, possibilities for new major or minor programs may emerge. Collaboration might also inspire the development of multi- or trans-disciplinary programs. (read more)

Enhance small departments: ACS encourages proposals that are designed to boost the capacities of small departments. Joining curricula is a creative way to strengthen program offerings and foster professional networking for faculty in small departments. (read more)
Strengthen diversity and inclusion: ACS intends to support proposals that open the campus community to new forms of learning about and engaging with difference. Proposals that reflect cohesive approaches to strengthening the whole-student experience are welcome. (read more)

ACS is launching a campus climate benchmarking survey project. If you anticipate a diversity and inclusion grant project that relies on campus climate data, we invite you to join the project. Click here to learn more, and contact Anita Davis (adavis@colleges.org) before your spring 2017 semester ends.”

Process

ACS outreach efforts are ongoing on our member campuses. If there are groups, committees, or individuals who would like to explore grant opportunities in more detail, please email jdugan@colleges.org. The information below is intended to get you started – in finding potential collaborators, planning your projects, and understanding the criteria for selection.

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Elements of a successful grant project:

Depending on the goals of the project, each proposal should embrace one or more themes:

  • Experimentation: Take a calculated risk and try something new as a way to advance curricular and/or co-curricular learning.
  • Innovation: Transform current practices by incorporating new technologies and/or pedagogies to better meet student needs.
  • Collaboration: Work with faculty and/or staff partners from multiple ACS campuses to meet shared goals.

Please see the FAQ section and sample grant abstract below for more information.

Award Amounts

  • $15,000-$25,000 for Innovative Instruction projects
  • $25,000-$50,000 for Collaborative Curriculum projects
  • $15,000-$50,000 for Diversity and Inclusion projects
  • For projects that meet multiple objectives of the Mellon program or that involve multiple institutions, even larger awards (up to $100,000) are possible.
  • Up to ten $5,000 ACS Mellon Impact Awards per year,to recognize projects that reached the highest levels of excellence in the three areas of our grant.

Note that, for exceptional proposals in the Collaborative Curriculum and Diversity and Inclusion categories, ACS will consider increasing the award maximum as part of our effort to encourage scope and excellence.

We anticipate that many proposals will meet multiple objectives. For example, course sharing among three institutions (collaborative curriculum) will by definition and design involve classroom technology (innovative instruction). As you imagine possibilities, we encourage you to see the categories above as fluid rather than as fixed.

The Mellon Foundation, whose award comprises the bulk of current ACS funding, has as a core goal to promote the “the wide participation of previously underrepresented communities in the humanities, the arts, and higher education.” While the STEM fields traditionally fall outside of Mellon’s mission, the Foundation is dedicated to diversity and inclusion in all disciplines. Thus, we encourage colleagues in STEM to focus on diversity and inclusion in their proposals in order to avail themselves of this funding source.

 

Finding collaborators:

We want to make it as convenient as possible to form collaborative partnerships. Below you will find three ways for potential collaborators to find each other.

Click here for the ACS Collaboration Database. This feature is designed to help those who have more specific ideas for grant proposals to get the word out to potential collaborators. Here is how it works:

  • When the ACS Director of Faculty Programs is contacted by a faculty member with an idea for a promising proposal, she will add that person and proposed idea to the database.
  • Other faculty and staff across the ACS campuses can regularly check the database to see what ideas are being generated. If they would like to join as potential collaborators, there will be a link to the DFP’s email; she will then add them to the database for that particular project.

The original proposer, if desired, would then follow up to discuss collaborative possibilities.

Click here to search the course catalogs of all ACS campuses. This tool allows you to identify departments, course offerings, and other relevant information that might be useful to idea generation and proposal development.

Click here to search the websites of all ACS campuses by specified search terms. For example, a faculty member who is interested in a collaboration between “Arabic language” and “Middle Eastern Studies” instructors could search for those terms to get an idea of who teaches what and retrieve contact information for potential collaborators. While this search tool will generate a wide array of results that will require sifting through, we believe it is a good place to begin making connections.

2017-18 grant cycle:

  • February-June: ACS outreach via campus visits, grants webpage, and conference calls
  • June 16: Pre-proposals due
  • June-August: ACS guidance on final proposals
  • November 2: Full proposals due
  • December 15: Decisions
  • January 5: Funding

Participants may re-apply for grant funding. Subsequent phases of your project will require that you submit an abbreviated application form.

Interim reports are due in June 2018, and final reports are due twelve months after the grant is awarded. However, ACS understands that some projects may need more time for completion. For those projects, we will consider six-month no-cost extensions, which must be requested at the time of the interim report. Note that extensions will not be possible during the final year of the grant program (2020-2021).

Collaborating partners may request a supplemental planning grant (of up to $2,000) to be used during the summer 2017 for activities associated with developing the final proposal. If you could benefit from a planning grant, indicate the amount and purpose in question #6 of the pre-proposal form.

 

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Assessment:

All proposals are required to explain the tangible progress that is intended to result from funded projects. Key questions to consider, starting in the early stages of project design, include:

  • If your project is successful, what does that success “look like,” i.e., what will your project have accomplished?
  • What is evidence of that success, i.e., how will you distinguish between different levels of success?
  • What will you do with the assessment information you generate, e.g., how can you use the information to secure sustained support from your campus (if applicable)?

ACS cannot know what success looks like for each project; only you and your partners can explain it. We can help guide you so that ACS has the follow-through necessary for reporting to Mellon and you have tangible evidence needed for future institutional investment in your project. We believe that high-quality, post-grant reports are the best guarantee for sustained support from both.

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Sample Grant Abstracts

You can see examples of successful and unsuccessful grant abstracts here.

Frequently Asked Questions

  • How is ACS working with campuses to generate interest and proposals?
    ACS outreach efforts are underway, and campus visits will continue into early May. Even as the semester is winding down, we are happy to speak with faculty, staff, and administrators to discuss the program. If you have questions or ideas, please email Jennifer Dugan, the Director of Faculty Programs (jdugan@colleges.org or Anita Davis, the Director of Diversity and Inclusion adavis@colleges.org.
  • Is participation in the pre-proposal stage required?
    No, but proposals that go through the preliminary process are more likely to be successful. Because our current grant brings new themes and possibilities to ACS and our campuses, it is helpful for all concerned to be engaged actively with us in the pre-proposal stage.
  • How can I increase my chances of being funded?
    Generally speaking, the proposals most apt to succeed will include most of the following elements: multi-campus involvement, experimental approaches, new (or stronger) forms of collaboration, post-grant sustainability, and goals to advance diversity and inclusion. Likely, no one proposal will include all of these elements. The grant themes that you build on should be those that are, by design, central to your project goals. We encourage you to contact us to discuss your ideas, especially in the early stages.
  • How can I assure institutional support for my idea?
    We encourage all those who are working on proposals to communicate with relevant administrators early in the process. The pre-proposal requires the signature of the senior administrative officer for your area (e.g., vice president). Full proposals, due November 2, will require the signature of the same officer, who will be responsible for keeping the president informed and supportive.
  • Are pilot projects fundable?
    Yes. Some projects may need to be scaled so that adjustments can be made before an expanded version of the project is attempted.  In the pre-proposal, applicants should explain the reasons for choosing to pilot.
  • Will Mellon fund proposals from STEM fields?
    ACS has limited funding from non-Mellon sources that could be used for collaborative STEM projects. While STEM fields traditionally fall outside of Mellon’s mission, the Foundation is dedicated to diversity and inclusion in all disciplines. Thus, we encourage colleagues in STEM to focus on diversity and inclusion in their proposals in order to avail themselves of this funding source.
  • Can staff apply for grant funding?
    Yes. We want to advance collaboration in new, creative, and experimental ways. Faculty regularly work with staff – in teaching and learning centers, our libraries, and IT, study abroad, and diversity offices. Staff contribute to whole-student learning, institutional development, and community-building. Staff working with faculty on initiatives is an ideal way to think about grant funding.
  • What will the grant not fund?
    Mellon is explicit in its guidelines: it does not cover food or catering costs, undergraduate travel or fees, or one-off events. To be funded, events such as workshops should be integrated into and have cascading effects for the project versus, for example, a one-time speaker. If you are unsure, please see Mellon’s “Inquiries and Guidelines” page here to learn more or contact ACS.
  • Will the grant fund the cost of planning and travel?
    We are offering early planning grants of up to $2,000 to help collaborators meet and develop their final proposals. Planning grants are requested via the pre-proposal form. The costs of essential planning and travel during the actual grant period are fundable expenses.
  • Will the grant cover stipends and course releases?
    Yes. Stipends for faculty and staff will be awarded on a case-by-case basis by the Selection Committee, as will course releases when required to carry out the project, e.g., by principle investigators who take on significant coordination and leadership responsibilities.
  • Will the grant cover equipment?
    Yes, but at a level no more than 10% of the total grant requested.
  • What is ACS doing to work out administrative and technology question related to collaboration?
    ACS is developing a model for course sharing and remote teaching that will free faculty and staff from having to think about these kinds of details. We are working with groups of deans, registrars, and IT staff on issues including payments for remote teaching, credit-granting policies, and software compatibility. Our longer-term goal is to help make course sharing and remote teaching as successful as possible across the ACS system. Please see our Technology Guide.
  • My project requires that collaborators share the same academic calendar. What should I do? 
    Some grant projects will require alignment between academic calendars. To provide you with that information, this page contains the most recent available academic calendars. Additionally, some collaborations may need alignment between course schedules. If you would like that information, please email jdugan@colleges.org, and ACS will send it to you.

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Forms and Instructions

Pre-proposals
The pre-proposal form (updated May 12, 2017) can be found here.

Note: The pre-proposal requires the signatures of the senior administrative officers (e.g., vice presidents) for all grant participants. Full proposals, due November 2, will require the signatures of the same officers, who will be responsible for keeping the presidents informed and supportive. We encourage all those who are working on proposals to communicate with the relevant administrators early in the process.

Full proposals
Over the summer, ACS will provide guidance to faculty and staff who intend to submit full proposals.The full proposal form can be found here. Our goal is to help you develop high-quality finished products. Please let us know how we can help.

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More information on Possibilities

Sustain low-enrolled courses
Sustaining low-enrolled courses is a goal that would benefit both students and faculty. ACS encourages proposals that are designed to combine under-enrolled courses The grant encourages faculty to think beyond traditional departmental boundaries and consider counterparts on other ACS campuses who are concerned about low enrollments, e.g., in mid-level and advanced (signature) courses.
We will have resources in place to help faculty make course-sharing arrangements, including:

  • An Administrative Logistics Team, which will smooth out issues related to registration, calendars, credits, and other matters.
  • A Technology Team, which will address issues related to course management systems, setup and use of classroom technologies, hardware and software availability, and other matters.
  • A Curricular Content Team, which works on matters such as instructional design, program offerings, and course rotations.

We understand that reaching these goals will involve significant planning opportunities and new delivery models. However, considering what is at stake – including program well-being – when course enrollments are sustained, we encourage concerned faculty to seek ACS grant support in order to reach more students in selected courses.

Boost course enrollments
This is a goal that would benefit both students and faculty. ACS encourages proposals that are designed to combine under-enrolled courses. The grant encourages faculty to think beyond traditional departmental boundaries and consider counterparts on other ACS campuses who are concerned about low enrollments, e.g., in mid-level and advanced (signature) courses.

We will have resources in place to help faculty make course-sharing arrangements, including:

  • An Administrative Logistics Team, which will smooth out issues related to registration, calendars, credits, and other matters.
  • A Technology Team, which will address issues related to course management systems, setup and use of classroom technologies, hardware and software availability, and other matters.

We understand that reaching these goals will involve significant planning opportunities and new delivery models. However, considering what is at stake – including program well-being – when course enrollments are sustained, we encourage concerned faculty to seek ACS grant support in order to reach more students in selected courses.

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Expand course offerings
Faculty have a natural ability to envision new courses that would benefit students but cannot offer them due to workload and other obstacles. ACS invites proposals that expand offerings in order to fill curricular gaps. The grant encourages faculty to identify course offerings on other ACS campuses  and/or course development opportunities with other ACS faculty with our google search tool, both of which can add value to existing major and minor programs.
While each proposal will be context-specific, we envision projects such as the following:

  • Team-taught courses between two or more ACS faculty that fill a gap, i.e., will persist as essential curricular features of the participating programs.
  • Course-share arrangements whereby two or more ACS faculty “trade” courses as way to overcome the workload challenges that prevent the courses from being taught on the home campus.

We understand that reaching these goals will involve significant planning opportunities and new delivery models. ACS will have resources available to assist in these efforts (please see “Sustain low-enrolled courses” for more information on those resources).

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Create new major/minor programs/collaborative departments

As course enrollments and offerings expand (see the links above), possibilities for new major or minor programs within existing departments may emerge. Alternatively, cross-disciplinary collaboration might inspire the development of multi- or trans-disciplinary programs. Understanding this is an iterative process, we welcome proposals that set out the blueprints for new programs, in particular those that would otherwise not be feasible without the substantive support of ACS grant funding. Please use our link to ACS campus catalogues to get started.

Collaborative departments offer one way to govern new programs. They share many of the features of a traditional department located on a single campus, whereby members design, implement, and manage the curriculum; provide professional mentoring and support; and recruit and advise students. In collaborative departments, contributors from separate institutions partner in these tasks and conduct much of their business electronically (grant support could also be built in for periodic face-to-face engagement). The goal is to distribute responsibilities amongst contributing faculty and leverage available technologies to make such high-level collaboration effective and sustainable.

ACS resource teams will be available to guide the long-range planning for new major and minor programs and collaborative departments (please see “Sustain low-enrolled courses” for more information on those resources).

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Enhance small departments

More is needed to offset the vulnerabilities of many small departments. ACS encourages faculty to identify their counterparts in small departments and submit proposals that are designed to boost their capacities by sharing resources, courses, and ideas.
We believe that there is considerable potential for collaboration between one- or two-person departments on multiple ACS campuses. The grant could support faculty who are motivated to map out complementary curricula in order to:

  • expand disciplinary coverage
  • create a more secure departmental unit
  • strengthen the professional relationships between faculty in small departments on ACS campuses.

We understand that reaching these goals will involve significant planning opportunities and new delivery models. In addition to ACS will have resources available to assist in these efforts (please see “Sustain low-enrolled courses” for more information on those resources).

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Strengthen diversity and inclusion
ACS will support initiatives that have the potential to make a lasting impact on institutional culture. Projects of this sort could be geared toward diversity and inclusion or could add diversity and inclusion to the pursuit of other grant themes. ACS intends to support proposals that open the campus community to new forms of learning about and engaging with difference. Proposals that reflect cohesive approaches to strengthening the whole-student experience are welcome.
We will engage our campuses in the following ways:

  • ACS is intending to discuss experimental initiatives at the spring 2017 Council of Deans meeting. We want to encourage creativity while offering guidance to both faculty and staff who seek grant support for ideas and approaches for strengthening diversity and inclusion.
  • ACS added a Director of Diversity and Inclusion, Dr. Anita Davis, to our staff ranks. Currently, she is gathering campus data, issuing a framework survey, and meeting with faculty, diversity officers and other key faculty and staff, results from which will serve as the basis for ACS work with all campus constituencies in this critical area.
  • ACS will convene an Accountability Summit in the summer of 2018, which will gather faculty, staff, and administrators from ACS member colleges. The goal is to generate a new round of RFPs, based on the outcomes of earlier experimentation. We want to set a foundation for consortial-wide diversity and inclusion commitments, including the creation of an ACS Statement on Racial Justice as well as concrete outcomes and metrics to evaluate the success of our initiatives.
    Once the program has commenced, all diversity-related grant proposals generated by faculty and staff will be shepherded through the same process employed for the entire faculty advancement program. (Please see the “Application guidelines and selection criteria” for more information on that process.)

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