Spark Grant Application and Criteria

Spark Grants, offered on a semesterly basis, are awards of $5-$15K designed to help "spark" promising teaching and learning projects from idea to reality and position innovations for future success.

The Spring 2016 application deadline has passed. Awardees were announced in February. Application for Fall 2016 HILT Spark Grants will open on June 15, 2016. Please check back for more details in June.

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Spark Grant Application Criteria

In general, grant proposals should be aligned with HILT’s mission to catalyze innovation and excellence in teaching and learning at Harvard. Proposals will be evaluated based on how well they:

  • articulate project goals, scope, motivation, and assessment;
  • draw on relevant evidence and efforts;
  • demonstrate distinctiveness from existing campus activities;
  • establish compatibility with existing campus technology infrastructure, if necessary (e.g., Canvas);
  • generalize—or potentially generalize—across disciplinary and/or school boundaries (please provide specific examples).

As with previous rounds of grants, proposals that build communities of practice around teaching and learning, facilitate high quality assessment practices and educational research, experiment with and document new instructional practices, and/or provide pedagogically-driven tools for teaching and learning (multimedia and instructional technology) are encouraged.

Please note: priority will be given to those applicants who have not previously received HILT funding.

Spark Grant Application Process

To submit a proposal, please see the How to Apply page, which will direct you to a brief online application. The online application requires a 1-2 page proposal (.pdf) that answers the following question: What do you propose to do, and why do you think HILT should fund this proposal? Please also indicate how funds will be used. 

Application review may include varied members of the Harvard community, including faculty, HILT staff, teaching and learning center staff, academic technology managers, and school and university leadership, with final decisions made by the President and Provost. The exact structure of the review process will be dependent on the number and nature of the proposals received.

Materials submitted in the proposal process may be used to make connections, at HILT's discretion, with other members of the Harvard community who share similar interests and the grant review process may result in feedback to applicants from other members of the Harvard community. These efforts to connect and provide feedback are intended to provide benefit to all applicants, regardless of funding decision.

Spark Grant Eligibility

Harvard University benefits-eligible faculty, students, staff, and postdoctoral researchers are eligible to apply for funding, individually or as groups. Approximately five grants will be awarded each semester. Funding will be awarded for up to one year, without the possibility of extensions or augmentation. Those applicants whose proposed project has received or is being considered for additional funding sources should indicate this in their application. Proposals for teaching relief, business-as-usual, or cost-shifting activities will not be awarded funding.

Because a fundamental aim of the Spark Grant program is to produce models that can be shared and implemented on a broader scale for the betterment of the Harvard community, any project or resource produced using Spark Grant support must be open source; proprietary projects will not be considered for funding.

Spark Grant Deliverables

Projects awarded funding will be posted publicly on HILT's web site and may be showcased at HILT events. At the project's conclusion, a short submission (e.g., written report, multimedia presentation, poster) is required, indicating how the work has impacted teaching and learning, and how others can benefit from and advance the work.

Spark Grant Goals

Through modest but meaningful support, these $5-$15K grants are designed to help “spark” promising teaching and learning projects from idea to reality and position innovations for future success. Through Spark Grants, awardees will receive resources, feedback, and community support to help them develop their ideas into prototypes, pilots, and small-scale innovations. HILT will also strive to support any future scaling-up of Spark Grant projects by increasing their visibility and connecting them with the broader Harvard community. Funding can be used, for example, to pay for a research assistant, hire a graduate student with academic technology expertise, and convene collaborative groups.