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LSA Democracy in Action Fund

Overview

As a leading public university, we strive to cultivate a community that works toward our nation’s highest democratic ideals. Toward this goal, the LSA Democracy in Action Fund provides grants ranging from $500 to $2500 to support students, faculty, and staff to do the challenging work of advancing genuine democratic engagement on campus.

What will these grants support?

Individuals and groups may apply for grants ranging from $500 to $2500 to fund proposals that best address one or more of the following:

  1. Celebrate and promote an inclusive community with an emphasis on civil, productive dialogue between students, faculty and staff of all backgrounds.   
  2. Promote a greater understanding of participatory democracy and our role in it.
  3. Showcase the power and impact of a liberal arts education to effectively address issues associated with exclusion and marginalization as well as problems associated with various forms of discrimination and inequality.
  4. Promote a program or large-scale strategy that LSA could undertake to significantly enhance students’ feelings of inclusion, connection, and democratic engagement, including realistic proposals for implementation.

Who can submit proposals*?

  1. Students. The Fund will accept proposals from students and student organizations for events that are entirely student-focused. However, the strongest proposals will come from collaborations involving students, faculty, and professional staff members.

    Proposals from multiple student organizations that seek to promote a cross-fertilization of ideas are particularly welcome, especially those that occur in unexpected and creative ways. Collaborations between student organizations that have not worked together in the past are encouraged.

  2. Faculty or Staff. Faculty and staff members may initiate and co-lead proposals, but to maintain a student-centric focus, all proposals must include genuine co-leadership from student(s) in the design and implementation phases.

What should a proposal include?

The application form for the LSA Democracy in Action Fund is now open!

In addition to addressing one or more of the Fund goals above, proposals also must meet the following criteria:

  1. The proposal must reflect a broad perspective, not simply the particular interests of a student organization or an individual.
  2. Foster collaboration and creative engagement across LSA.
  3. Demonstrate a direct impact on LSA students.
  4. Aim to make a lasting impact to the LSA community.

Proposal submissions must include the following information:

  1. Motivation Statement for the project prepared by applicants.  This statement should describe why the project is important to the applicants.  Statements may be up to one page in length.
  2. Official names of the individuals and organizations collaborating on the project.
  3. Name of at least one lead contact from each organization contributing to the project.
  4. Description of the project. Include how it will address at least one of the goals stated above and how It must also illustrate how it will be relevant and engaging for a broad range of students.
  5. Description of the role(s) the student organization(s), as well as faculty and staff, where relevant, will play in the project
  6. Proposed timeline for project planning and implementation, with a justification of the project’s feasibility and the ability of the proposers to implement it.  
  7. Proposed itemized budget with an estimated full cost of the project including any amount of funds already secured or additional funds still needed (if applicable).

How may funds be used?

An itemized budget with an estimated full cost of the project must be included with the proposal. If funds are being secured from multiple sources it should be indicated what items within the budget are to be covered by this grant. Any amount of funds already secured must be noted.

Fundable activities:

  1. Supplies and materials directly related to the project
  2. Rental costs for meeting/event space, equipment, etc.
  3. Banners and signage
  4. Travel to conferences/events where material from the project will be presented
  5. Travel and honoraria for speakers or performers
  6. Food for activities and events (with approval)

Non-fundable activities include:

  1. Partisan political activities in support of candidates or parties
  2. Payments to applicant, RSO members, or UM faculty members and staff for time worked on the project
  3. For-profit activities
  4. Alcohol and tobacco products
  5. Activities that constitute the regular daily/monthly/yearly activities of the RSO
  6. Fundraising for the student organizations
  7. Retroactive events/activities
  8. Travel to conferences that do not involve presentation of materials related to this project
  9. Travel to and from meetings
  10. Membership dues

All spending must follow University of Michigan Standard Practice guidelines.

What’s the process for submitting proposal?

The "Apply Now" application link below is now live.  Proposals will be reviewed by the LSA Democratic Engagement Fund Committee appointed by the Dean and composed of students with faculty and administrative support. Proposals will be reviewed and approved on a rolling basis. More information will be forthcoming about the selection process.

What is required of funded proposals?

Applicants with selected proposals will be expected to do the following:

  1. Provide a report that summarizes the impact of the funded activity, along with a final budget—any unused funds must be returned—to the Office of the Associate Dean for Undergraduate Education at the conclusion of the project. All final reports—and in some cases progress reports—must be submitted no later than May 1, 2017.
  2. Include a “Lessons Learned” document as part of the final report to serve as a resource for future student applicants.

Please contact Michelle Ehlers, Executive Secretary, Office of the Associate Dean for Undergraduate Education (miehlers@umich.edu) with any questions.

Additional Eligibility Guidelines

Eligibility: Students
  • Student applicants for the Fund must be enrolled in LSA.

  • Student applicants should be a member or have the endorsement of a recognized student organizations (RSO) in the University. We urge students to develop projects that bring together 2 to 3 (or more) RSOs.

  • Students who are not members of a RSO and wish to apply as individuals should contact the Office of the Associate Dean for Undergraduate Education to discuss their options.

  • Applicants must include a statement of support from the RSO(s) detailing the level and type of commitment to the project.

  • Preference will be given to applications that include collaboration between two or more RSOs.

Eligibility: Faculty & Staff
  • Faculty or professional staff applicants must have an appointment within a LSA unit.

  • Proposals from faculty and staff must have active student participation in the planning and implementation.

  • Faculty and staff applications should have the approval of a supervisor, director or unit chair.

  • Faculty and staff interested in connecting with a student organization to initiate a proposal can contact the Office of the Associate Dean for Undergraduate Education.

Background

The LSA Democracy In Action Fund (“Fund”) grows out of one the College’s core principles: that we derive strength from differences of opinion and diversity of thought. We work from the fundamental belief that all members of our community belong here and that we are at our best when we engage each other in an atmosphere of civility and respect. While the College values strong opinions and informed, rigorous debate, we will not tolerate incivility, intimidation, or disrespect. This special fund seeks to enact these principles during this challenging time on our campus.

The input we have received during planning for the DEI plan, student protests and counter-protests, letters to administration, online petitions, op-eds in the Michigan Daily and ongoing attempts to make sense of the post-election landscape underscore the high level of campus engagement in these matters.

At a post-election forum hosted by LSA, we saw firsthand that our students are rising to the challenges of our current moment.  A diverse group of students from many different backgrounds and across the political divide, along with members of the LSA faculty, staff and administration, came together to engage in a robust, civil conversation about their experiences, their hopes for the future, and concrete ways that we can move forward as a campus community and a nation. These students talked about their confusion and in some cases their hurt and their fears, but they did not call for shielding from uncomfortable exchanges or challenging ideas. Rather, they set an example for all of us with their intelligence and willingness to engage across differences.

This special fund honors that commitment and vision and aims to foster similar discussions among students, both undergraduate and graduate, faculty, and staff.