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The ACS Grants program is a five-year program (2016-21) that supports faculty and staff development through grants for collaborative, project-based activities spanning a calendar year or less.
The program has three thematic areas. We will consider proposals that advance Innovative Instruction, Collaborative Curriculum, and/or Diversity and Inclusion. We define these themes below, and these definitions must inform all proposals.
Grant proposals must be collaborative – that is, faculty and/or staff from at least three ACS member institutions must be project leaders. Participation in an event held at another ACS campus is not usually sufficient to demonstrate collaboration. The main exception to the collaboration guideline is for projects that fall squarely in the Diversity and Inclusion category; but collaborative projects in this category will also be given priority.
Proposals must be focused on faculty and staff development. For example. while positive students outcomes may be used for assessment purposes, it is pedagogical innovation that should be the focus of Innovative Instruction proposals.
The Mellon Foundation, whose award comprises the bulk of current ACS funding, has as a core goal to promote the “the wide participation of previously underrepresented communities in the humanities, the arts, and higher education.” While the STEM fields traditionally fall outside of Mellon’s mission, the Foundation is dedicated to diversity and inclusion in all disciplines. Thus, colleagues in STEM fields should focus on Diversity and Inclusion as their main theme in their proposals in order to avail themselves of this funding source
We anticipate that many proposals will meet multiple objectives. For example, course sharing among three institutions (collaborative curriculum) will by definition and design involve classroom technology (innovative instruction). As you imagine possibilities, we encourage you to see the categories above as fluid rather than as fixed. However, for budgeting purposes, projects should fit into one main category and be limited to the funding maximum of that category.
We want to develop learner-based pedagogy (the process of applying lessons from cognitive science and neuroscience) and blended learning (or technology-enhanced teaching). As research and innovation in these areas continue to grow, methods of teaching must be re-evaluated and adjusted accordingly. ACS seeks to support faculty members who are ready to adopt innovative pedagogies. We invite proposals designed to renew and invigorate teaching methods and incorporate assessment instruments that draw upon current research in the Scholarship of Teaching and Learning.
As a consortium, ACS prioritizes multi-campus involvement in curricular projects. We want to support experimentation among a number of collaborative strategies and goals, including expanding study away opportunities, protecting low-enrolled courses, benefiting disciplines with limited representation, and supporting efforts to create collaborative departments or programs. ACS has assembled teams and will provide support to address curricular content, instructional technology, and logistical details. We will not dictate the appropriate models for these initiatives, but we anticipate highly experimental and creative approaches to curriculum-sharing.
Diversity and Inclusion
The fact that our colleges are based in the South, just a generation or two away from segregation, makes diversity and inclusion matters of particular salience and urgency. We will encourage grant proposals that nurture new approaches in the classroom, and approaches specifically geared toward a greater understanding of diverse experiences, and sensitivity toward building inclusive communities. We encourage proposals that incorporate inclusive pedagogies, strategies for improving student success, and interventions focused on transforming our campuses into more diverse and inclusive spaces.
In addition to considering the above guidelines, all proposals should demonstrate:
- direct links to the grant theme/s based on the definitions provided above.
- impact that the project will have on participating campuses (i.e., desired outcomes relative to the current campus context).
- the scholarship related to project needs and goals (e.g., literature on inclusive pedagogy for a proposal on diversity and inclusion).
- impact (or potential impact) across the ACS system (e.g., the intended sharing of the project results).
- insights from relevant campus offices and leaders (e.g., Diversity and Inclusion Officers, Teaching and Learning Centers)
- a plan for sustaining the project after the grant period ends (e.g., through campus investments or adjustments in faculty load/time).
- linkages between project goals, outcomes, and budget requests (i.e., demonstrate that your funding requests are clearly designed to meet your project goals).
- Conferences, workshops, speakers, events, and symposia that are one-time in nature will not be funded unless their centrality to the projects is demonstrated and the explanation includes tangible outcomes and action steps. For example, if a one-time class is proposed, explain how it could lead to collaborative programming in the future; if a workshop is proposed, explain the cascading effects that are expected once participants return to their home campuses; if an honorarium for a speaker is requested, explain how the lecture will have benefits beyond those immediately attending.
The figures in each category are meant to suggest the scale of the projects we seek to fund. However, the higher figures should be considered maximums.
- $15,000-$25,000 for Innovative Instruction projects
- $25,000-$50,000 for Collaborative Curriculum projects
- $15,000-$50,000 for Diversity and Inclusion projects
In an effort to equalize stipend, travel, and other variable costs across our campuses, ACS has set the following limits that must be followed in all budgets at the final proposal stage. Please note that the stipend amounts listed below are exclusive of any fringe benefits, payroll taxes, or overhead expenses. You should consult with your campus grant administrator to determine if your campus will deduct such charges from the awarded funds. Do not submit budget proposals with line items for fringe benefits, payroll taxes (FICA), or overhead expenses.
Grantees are not required to submit receipts for expenditures (as they were in previous ACS grant programs), but should collect and preserve them so that their home institutions can audit or verify their budget reports.
- Faculty full stipends: up to a maximum of $2,500
- Faculty partial stipends: up to a maximum of $500
- Full staff professional development funds: up to a maximum of $2,500
- Partial staff professional development funds: up to a maximum of $500
- Note that, due to labor law requirements across most of our campuses, staff are ineligible for stipends. Instead, staff will be eligible for professional development funds at the levels described.
- Lodging: $150/night
- Meals: $25/meal (lunch or dinner), $40/day total
- Travel: $350 (unless otherwise justified, e.g., depending on distance/location).
- Honoraria and consultants: ACS has not set a limit and will evaluate dollar amounts at the final proposal stage. Payments to part-time staff (usually only if they are to be paid for work over and above their usual workload) or hourly employees hired for the project are allowable. You should provide either a)an exact pay rate and number of hours that the employee will be working on the grant activities or b)treat the part-timer’s work in your budget as a lump sum stipend (you should, however, also justify in your proposal narrative approximately how many hours the employee will work and at what pay rate).
- Requests for hardware and software purchases cannot exceed ten percent of total grant amount requested.
When devising budgets, please note that ACS cannot fund:
- Student costs (including graduate students): stipends, financial aid, wages, tuition (in sum, no direct payments to students). Hourly workers hired by the project who are also students are allowable under some circumstances (usually only if they are not already receiving work study benefits from college or federal sources).
- The purchase of alcoholic beverages is not allowable.
Please contact ACS if you have any questions about these budget guidelines. We will be looking carefully at all budget requests and look more favorably upon those that conform to these guidelines. Thank you for helping ACS fund as many projects as our sources will allow and for the work you are doing as part of our grant program.