Culture Lab Innovation Fund

The Harvard Culture Lab Innovation Fund awards grants to Harvard students, staff, faculty, postdoctoral researchers, and academic personnel to pursue ideas that seek to strengthen Harvard’s capacity to advance a culture of belonging. Proposals should aim to focus on having a direct connection to the Harvard community and influence the University's trajectory towards sustainable inclusive excellence. Proposals should aim to address critical challenges around diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging by identifying innovative and creative solutions that have the potential to catalyze a culture shift at Harvard.

For the 2020-21 funding cycle the HCLIF is offering application tracks aligned with various issues of great importance. Applications may be submitted for ideas addressing racial justice, mental health, and rebuilding community. There is also the option to submit an application addressing an area of interest of your choice.

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Click here to view previously funded projects

 

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Application Tracks 2021

Applicants can select any of the following application tracks (when ideas overlap between racial justice and mental health, applicants can select both).

  1. Racial Justice:  Applicants are invited to submit proposals that address issues of racism and provide solutions for advancing racial justice on our campus.
  2. Mental Health: Applicants are invited to submit proposals that address issues of mental health, with an emphasis on providing solutions for mental health challenges impacting communities of color on our campus. Proposals may address the needs of all Harvard community members, including staff, faculty, students, postdocs, and academic personal. (view the Report of the Task Force on Managing Student Mental Health for more information on the current state of student mental health).
  3. Rebuilding Community:  Applicants are invited to submit a proposal that provides solutions for reimaging our campus community and culture once we are back on campus.
  4. Topic of Your Choice: Applicants are invited to submit proposals based on the topic of their choice as long as it is aligned with the goals and mission of the fund.

Grant Guidelines

The Fund will award competitive grants to test and pilot new ideas and scale existing efforts. 

  • Awards from $5,000 to $15,000
  • Exceptional proposals or those exhibiting strong potential for scale will be considered for $25,000 or more
  • Teams of two or more are welcome to apply
  • The award period is one year

Reporting

It is expected that award recipients will provide a general report outlining spending and project progress to the Culture Lab Innovation Fund (CLIF) at the end of the award period. CLIF will provide instructions to awardees regarding the scope and submission of these reports. To the extent possible, CLIF will highlight award project development on relevant websites and may feature your award in press releases communications with donors, and other materials.

Project Support

Fund recipients will join a cohort of fellow awardess and engage in networking and learning opportunities. Fund recipients will have access to coaching, advising, and consultation for the duration of the funding period. Other resources will be made available upon request. 

Apply

Applications will open in January 2021. The PDF version of the application is available here for download. Application requirements include:

  • A description of the project 
  • A completed estimated budget form

*If awarded, please be prepared to identify a department-based local financial administrator who will be responsible for financial transactions related to your award. Please email dib_culturelab@harvard.edu with questions.

Eligibility

Faculty and Staff:

  • All Harvard University benefits-eligible staff and faculty are eligible to apply. All primary team members must be affiliated with Harvard University.
  • All benefits-eligible Harvard administrative/professional, support or service and trades staff  members are eligible to apply.
  • Primary, secondary, and adjunct faculty are eligible to apply.

Students and Postdoctoral Researchers and Fellows: 

  • All full-time degree seeking Harvard undergraduate and graduate students are eligible to apply. All primary team members must be Harvard University affiliates.
  • Students must be enrolled for the duration of the funding period.
  • Postdoctoral Researchers and Fellows are eligible to apply.
  • A full time appointment at Harvard University is required and the appointment must last the duration of the funding period if awarded.

Review Criteria

Applications should be reviewed based on the degree to which they reflect:

  • Inclusive Design - Proposals that apply inclusive design principles to their project including adherence with the digital access policy will be highly valued
  • Innovation - The proposal represents an innovative approach to advancing diversity
  • Impact - The proposal is expected to have measurable impact once implemented
  • One Harvard - Project teams should aim to include and/or impact a mixture of faculty, student, staff, and/or postdoctoral fellows. Teams exhibiting cross-School and cross-functional and/or multidisciplinary collaboration will be especially valued
  • Promising Practice – Piloting this effort has the potential to have a University-wide impact and/or can be shared with other Schools and Units as a promising practice
  • Connection to Campus - The proposal has a direct connection to the Harvard community and influences the University's trajectory towards sustainable inclusive excellence and highlights a persistent challenge worth solving
  • Priority Theme - Ideas aligned with the application tracks identified for the year should be given extra merit (Racial justice, Mental health, and Rebuilding community)

 

Judging Process

First Round Judging 

A review committee of representatives from across the University will review proposals and identify first round finalists.

Second Round Judging

First round finalists will pitch their proposals to a panel of judges including senior leaders from the Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging Leadership Council.

Stage of Innovation

There are four different ‘types’ of innovations the CLIF is designed to fund.

  • Start-up: A very limited test of an idea that is expected to generate learning; uses the smallest set of features/activities possible to test a hypothesis.
  • Transitional: Small scale implementation of an idea (e.g., in one School/Unit, or a select handful of Schools/Units).
  • Mature Implementation: Successful experiment seeking to expand to bring the innovative solutions to a cross-school or cross-unit group.
  • Scaling for Impact: Successful local implementation of an innovation seeking to broaden its reach and impact by supporting its application in new settings.
 

Office Hours

Sign-up for group office hours to ask questions and learn more about the application process. Coming Soon

 

FAQ

Why was the Culture Lab Innovation Fund created?

In response to the report produced by the Presidential Task Force on Inclusion and Belonging, an innovation fund was established to support innovative ideas from across the University that seek to advance belonging and inclusion. The fund is designed to encourage experimentation by faculty, academic personnel, students, and staff, with an eye toward building a broader base of promising practices that can be models for other Schools and units.

How much funding am I eligible to request?

Most awarded projects will receive between $2,000 to $15,000. Exceptional proposals or those exhibiting strong potential for scale will be considered for $25,000 or more.

I have questions about my application, where can I go?

You may email dib_culturelab@harvard.edu with any questions related to your proposal. Office Hours will be scheduled in the Fall. Subscribe to our mailing list to receive alerts for when to sign-up for a one on one consultation.

What is the review criteria?

A review committee comprised of representatives from the across the University will judge applications using the criteria below.

  • Inclusive Design - Proposals that apply inclusive design principles to their project including adherence with the digital access policy will be highly valued
  • Innovation - The proposal represents an innovative approach to advancing diversity
  • Impact - The proposal is expected to have measurable impact once implemented
  • One Harvard - Project teams should aim to include and/or impact a mixture of faculty, student, staff, and/or postdoctoral fellows. Teams exhibiting cross-School and cross-functional and/or multidisciplinary collaboration will be especially valued
  • Promising Practice – Piloting this effort has the potential to have a University-wide impact and/or can be shared with other Schools and Units as a promising practice
  • Connection to Campus - The proposal has a direct connection to the Harvard community and influences the University's trajectory towards sustainable inclusive excellence and highlights a persistent challenge worth solving
  • Priority Theme - Ideas aligned with application tracks should be given extra merit (Racial justice, mental health, rebuilding community)

What happens if I advance to the final round of judging?

Top rated proposals will move forward to the second and final round of judging where they will pitch their projects to senior leaders including members of the Diversity, Inclusion, and Belonging Leadership Council. In late January, you will receive a notification about the status of your funding request. If you have been selected to move forward to the second round, you will receive instructions on how to prepare for the pitch competition.

What support will I have access to?

If you receive funding, you will join a cohort of fellow fund recipients. For the duration of your funding term you will be assigned a senior leader advisor. You will also have access to coaches and consultants. Other resources will be made available upon request.

What is expected of our project team?

It is expected that award recipients will provide a general report outlining spending and project progress to the Culture Lab Innovation Fund (CLIF) at the end of the award period. CLIF will provide instructions to awardees regarding the scope and submission of these reports. To the extent possible, CLIF will highlight award project development on relevant websites and may feature your award in press releases communications with donors, and other materials.

If you have additional questions, please email dib_culturelab@harvard.edu