UConn IDEA grant applications now open

Applications for IDEA grants, a program that awards funding to support student-designed and student-led projects at the University of Connecticut are due March 11, 2019, for the 2019-2020 academic year. (Screenshot via website)

Applications for IDEA grants, a program that awards funding to support student-designed and student-led projects at the University of Connecticut are due March 11, 2019, for the 2019-2020 academic year.

UConn provides a $4,000 grant to support student-designed projects, according to the IDEA grants page.

“The program funds a diverse range of projects, including artistic and creative endeavors, community service initiatives, early-stage entrepreneurial ventures and prototyping, research projects and other innovative projects,” Melissa Berkey, assistant director of undergraduate research, said.

Applications are open to all undergraduate students on all UConn campuses, and can be for both individual and small group projects, Berkey said. The online application includes a project proposal, personal statement, budget, timeline and letters of recommendation, among other questions and supporting materials.

“Applications are accepted from individuals and from small groups who want to work collaboratively on a project,” Berkey said.

Funds for the UConn IDEA grant program come from UConn’s Office of the Provost and Next Generation Connecticut, Berkey said.

“The UConn IDEA grant program provides students the opportunity to enhance their undergraduate experience by completing creative, innovative and original projects of their own design,” Berkey said.

Students in the program develop and demonstrate the skills and attributes graduate programs and employers are seeking, Berkey said.

“The program recognizes the enormous capacity, curiosity and potential of its undergraduate students,” Berkey said.

Since the program began in Spring 2013, 267 students have been awarded UConn IDEA grants. Last year, 47 projects received funding, Berkey said.

“Recipients have presented their findings at professional conferences and have published their work in peer-reviewed journals… have hosted solo exhibitions of their artwork, held performances and film screenings, and had their work recognized at festivals and in publications… have launched their own ventures and have been able to patent their designs,” Berkey said.

In Spring 2018, Leann Mclaren, a seventh-semester political science and history major, was awarded the IDEA grant. With this money, she conducted an oral history and statistical analysis that looks at the political, social and economic incorporation of West Indian Immigrants in the Greater Hartford area.

“I feel the IDEA grant has improved my budgeting skills, networking, time management and research skills,” Mclaren said.

Mclaren is still in the data collection phase of her project, and has not yet presented her findings. In the past, she has presented previous research at the American Political Science Association and the Emerging Scholars Research Conference at the University of Michigan, Mclaren said.

“I feel more empowered each day to complete my project and present my findings due to the investment this grant had in me,” Mclaren said.

Mclaren said the research she conducted with IDEA grant has improved her confidence in her abilities as a researcher and enhanced her applications to graduate schools.

“A skill I gained from research that I don’t think I had prior are critical analysis skills,” Mclaren said. “From reading scholarly literature and proposing contributions yourself, you tend to see the world and its problems in a deeper way.”


Naiela Suleiman is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at naiela.suleiman@uconn.edu.