Sylvia Earl Innovation Award

February 15, 2012

Through the generous gift of Jim and Sylvia Earl, Wheelock College is pleased to announce the creation of the Sylvia Earl Innovation Award. This award is designed to inspire and support innovative work, ideas, and programs that use technology to enhance the Wheelock experience for our community.

It will provide funds to support the generation, development, and piloting of new ideas that can create a measurable impact in the teaching, learning, and support of education in any and all areas of the College. Wheelock faculty, staff, students, deans, administrators, and staff are eligible to submit proposals individually or in groups.

The award is focused on generating a broad range of innovative ideas across the College and in all departments, including all academic programs.  Funded proposals will be designed to engage technology to help Wheelock lead in new ways and new areas in the future.  Proposals may include but are not limited to the following areas:

  • Address the changing expectations and needs of today's students
  • Develop new approaches to enhance real world experiences and learning inside and outside of the classroom
  • Improving the student experience resulting in improved engagement, retention and graduation
  • Broaden the reach of the College in new and key academic areas
  • Expand the local, regional, and global reach and impact of the College
  • Develop new academic areas of study to meet future needs
  • Provide enhanced academic resources, support and training
  • Expand delivery and positive impact of student support services in Student Life, Advising, Academic and Financial support services.
  • Promote enhanced connections with schools, communities and government agencies
  • Expand support of Field Experience and Service Learning work
  • Extend accessibility to student opportunities for international experiences

Grants can be for a one-time proposal but may be extended as larger projects based on the quality of the program and the potential outcomes of the work.  Grantees who are awarded may reapply for additional funding in future years.

Applicants considering long‐term projects in need of support are encouraged to use the Sylvia Earl funds to develop needed expertise, infrastructure, and analytic tools to support the development of the proposal.


Four general principles will guide award decisions.  The principles include the degree to which projects are:

  • Technology Driven:  Proposals should connect the use of new or existing technologies and tools to enhance existing or develop new programs and opportunities to support the work and the strategic efforts of the College. 
  • Innovative:  Proposals should enable new practices and policies in areas of education, student support or institutional effectiveness.  These can include experimental, creative, investigative, and entrepreneurial ideas, as well as extensions of current activities that will lead to better classroom experiences, learning outcomes and student success.
  • Clear and Measurable:  Proposals need to address clearly defined areas and issues and must be able to articulate outcome goals and how these goals will be measured. 
  • Replicable and Scalable:  Projects should have an extendable impact. They should develop ideas, tools, programs that can be shared. Where possible awardees will be offered support and expertise to develop and implement projects, and will be connected to others who have applied for grants to do similar or related activities.

Collaborative projects, those that are at the intersection of or work across boundaries (curricular, disciplinary, programmatic, and administrative) are encouraged. Proposals should result in insights, expertise, and/or documentation that can be meaningfully shared, and that will help enhance the work of the College. Proposals with a robust evaluative dimension are encouraged, especially those that can be clearly related to longer‐term efforts, and that will be of interest both within and beyond Wheelock.

Grants requests from $5,000 up to $25,000 will be considered. As a general guideline, up to 40 percent of funds can be used as a stipend to support the necessary work to implement the proposal.  Exceptions for a higher level of funding of stipends will be considered contingent on the nature of the proposal.  Funds not used for stipends must be used to directly support the design development and implementation of the proposal.  Applications will need to justify stipends.

Exceptions for larger grants will be considered for high‐impact proposals. It is expected that requests for funds will align with the potential for impact and rigor of plan development, and that proposed uses of funds will be appropriately spare.  Funding can be requested for term staff and release time for existing staff, technical tools and equipment, and outsourced services.

Wheelock College faculty and students, deans, administrators, and staff are eligible to submit letters of intent, individually or as groups.  Programs that can reallocate existing funding to support development or implementation are encouraged. Funding for business‐as‐usual processes will not be considered.

Application Process

Applicants should first indicate their interest through a Letter of Intent. Letters (1-3 pages) should briefly outline goals, essential components, and an approximate budget. Although the threshold for awarding grants will be appropriately high, applicants without fully‐formed projects are encouraged to submit Letters and use the application process to develop their ideas. Individuals can submit more than one Letter of Intent for different proposals. Students are strongly encouraged to collaborate with faculty and school administrators whenever possible. Likewise, all applicants are strongly encouraged to notify their local departments and/or dean's office.  Departmental, programmatic, or dean support is not expected for the Letters of Intent, but is encouraged at the later, full application stage.

Letters may be submitted to, and should include relevant contact information (contact person, position, campus address, email address, and phone number). Program staff will review each Letter of Intent, correspond with applicants to clarify any questions, and collaborate with selected applicants to develop a full application.  In evaluating proposals, staff will consult with relevant deans and administrators. Final award decisions will be deliberated by a selection committee comprised of faculty and staff.

Questions regarding proposals or the proposal process can be sent to


March 15, 2012: Deadline for Letters of Intent

April 2, 2012: Committee review and feedback completed

April 30, 2012: Full application due

May 16, 2012: Awards announced at All College meeting

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