Thinking about an Innovation Grant? Don’t skip these important first steps

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So perhaps you have some creative ideas floating around your head … ideas to help students succeed, or possible solutions to help with student retention.

If you’re like me, your idea might feel a bit half-baked … the start of something cool, but you feel like you need to talk it out with another colleague.

Awesome, let’s work with that.

Or maybe you love your idea but are totally mystified and overwhelmed by the grant process.

That’s OK, we’ve all been there.

So let’s take some baby steps to see what might be possible with the Educational Foundation’s Innovation Grant: an excellent starter grant with pretty good odds for funding.

Step 1: Read the Innovation Grant application.

All the way through. It’s only five pages long (which, compared to a federal grant RFP, is easy-peasy).

Give the application just 10 or 15 minutes of your time, even if you skimmed it before the holiday break.

Personally, I like to print out all documents and read with a highlighter in hand.

Go ahead, I’ll wait ….

The most important information for this grant (or any grant) should be in this application, including an explanation of the submission process … the deadline (March 30) … and the maximum amount considered ($10,000).

Most importantly, it goes over the rules and intent of the grant. Does your idea make a good fit?

And do you even qualify? (The answer is yes, because according to the FAQs all members of Virginia Western faculty and classified staff, including adjunct faculty and part-time employees, are eligible to submit proposals.)

Step 2: Time to talk

Hopefully you noticed the number of signatures required on the application cover page (which note earlier deadlines).

The grant process will require multiple conversations, so please allow time for those conversations early in the process … the worst thing to do is wait to complete the application at the last minute.

New this year is a Scoring Matrix. Take the time to read this document, too, because this is how the Educational Foundation board members will judge the proposals.

And here is a key point about the Scoring Matrix to keep in mind:

We often encourage collaborative approaches and projects around campus in general, but this grant actually awards up to 10 points for collaboration with another colleague, department, student group, or outside organization. Teamwork truly makes the dream work, so build those bridges early.

Finally, as you consider submitting an Innovation Grant, please make it a top priority to discuss your ideas not only with your colleagues, but with your supervisor and/or dean early in the process. The conversations you have NOW can help refine your idea or connect it with others that might be percolating within your own department.

Step 3: Proposal workshops

If you believe your idea is a good fit for the grant, and you plan on submitting a proposal, consider signing up for the Innovation Grant Workshop (perhaps with your collaborative partner?).

I’m piloting some small, 1-hour workshops in the grants office on two dates so far … Wednesday, Feb. 7 (10 to 11 a.m.), and Thursday, Feb. 8 (3 to 4 p.m.).

That gives you a little over three weeks to hold those important conversations and gather the information required for the application.

During the workshop, we’ll go through the application step-by-step. Bring your questions … and a laptop or iPad if you want to write or edit your proposal as we talk.

I may schedule additional workshops (in groups or one-on-one) depending on the demand.

Please sign up for the limited number of spaces at this link:

Or reach out to me directly if those times/days don’t work for you:

Stephanie O. Seagle | | 857-6084

I can’t wait to hear your ideas!

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About Stephanie

Stephanie SeagleStephanie Ogilvie Seagle has served as Grant Specialist at Virginia Western since 2016, but she prefers her honorary title: “Chief Joy Officer.” Stephanie spent most of her career at The Roanoke Times, a daily newspaper, where she served in various news and features roles including “Shoptimist” shopping columnist. She earned a bachelor’s degree in integrative studies at George Mason University and a master’s of arts in liberal studies at Hollins University. Stephanie is a mom to one human daughter and multiple chihuahuas … and is obsessed with reading nonfiction, Halloween, and crafting glow necklaces inspired by the Mill Mountain Star. Glow Roanoke!