Course & Program Grants FAQs

About the Program

What’s the difference between VentureWell “Faculty Grants” and “Course & Program Grants”?
They are the same grant-making program. We updated the grant program name in August 2021 to Course & Program Grants to emphasize:

  • that both faculty and staff may apply
  • that grants fund course and program development specifically

How do we know if our course/program is a fit for a VentureWell Course & Program Grant?
Successful proposals typically meet the following criteria:

  1. Inclusive Innovation (the pursuit of innovation motivated by environmental and societal aims, with problem-owners—often working with multiple stakeholders—responding to challenges experienced in their local context [Klingler-Vidra, et al.])
    1. Describes a plan for how to recruit, mentor, and support students who have been traditionally underrepresented, underestimated, and/or under-resourced within science & technology innovation and entrepreneurship
    2. Describes a curriculum that includes the promotion of diversity, equity, and inclusion in the student experience and serves students with varied lived experiences through explicit inclusion strategies
    3. Describes a curriculum where innovative thinking and problem-solving are grounded in a participatory framework in collaboration with stakeholders
  2. Sustainability (sustainable technologies, materials, and processes; climate change solutions; technological support for communities most impacted by climate change, etc.)
    1. Describes a curriculum that includes science and technology projects that have a strong focus and positive, enduring impact on society and/or the environment
  3. Innovation & Entrepreneurship (I&E) Ecosystem Building (building a network of interconnected partners, institutions, and resources that collaborate to support the creation and operations of entrepreneurial colleges and universities in STEM ecosystems)
    1. Describes a course and/or program that makes connections to the existing entrepreneurial ecosystem (faculty, colleges, departments, centers) that can support student entrepreneurship OR shows how the course/program will contribute to entrepreneurial ecosystem development
    2. Describes how grant funding could be a catalyst to build a stronger entrepreneurial ecosystem
  4. Stakeholder Collaboration (student teams participating in curricular, co-curricular, extracurricular, and/or off campus I&E activities; students and faculty connecting with on- and off-campus resources such as sustainability and entrepreneurship offices, accelerators, small business associations; etc.)
    1. Describes a curriculum that includes experiential learning and encourages student teams that extend beyond the classroom
    2. Connects students and faculty across disciplines
    3. Connects students with stakeholders as part of the innovation and entrepreneurship process
  5. Project Team & Resources
    1. Include faculty principal investigators (PIs), teaching team members, mentors, partners, advisors, and/or external consultants and resources with the disciplinary/domain expertise necessary to oversee, advise, and support the project
    2. Include multiple leaders, administrators, and/or partners that support program objectives
  6. Long-Term Financial Plan & Deliverables
    1. Outline a work plan and budget that are aligned with the proposed impact goals, and clear and measurable educational outcomes
    2. Describe a complete and realistic plan for how the course or program will be financially sustained beyond the grant period
    3. Describe an example of a tangible work product, program, or model as a result of this work that could be publicly shared for the benefit of other educators

What types of courses/programs does VentureWell fund?

Examples of past Course & Program Grants recipients (see the full list):

  • Salish Kootenai College: An initiative to integrate entrepreneurship into the Life Sciences curriculum. Through experiential coursework, students will learn how to employ entrepreneurship to positively impact the socioeconomic status of their Tribal communities, preparing them to move into leadership positions in government, nonprofits, and established businesses in the Life Sciences.
  • Jackson State University: A new minor in entrepreneurship for non-business majors that will go beyond theory to experientially engage student teams in pursuit of scalable solutions to real-world problems. Students will gain a core understanding of entrepreneurship and the skills to develop and launch venture teams.
  • Old Dominion: A new sustainability certificate program and two additional courses. Students will be prepared for careers in sustainability, and faculty will be trained through workshops to learn how to integrate I&E into their curricula.
  • Morningside University: A new minor in entrepreneurship and two new interdisciplinary courses partnering the Applied Agriculture and Food Science and School of Business departments. Student teams will learn entrepreneurial skills through developing ventures aimed at solving urban food desert conditions.
  • Northern Kentucky University: A new addition to a course in the College of Informatics that incorporates social and technology entrepreneurship. Students will develop innovation projects that address challenges in accessibility and sustainability.
  • University of Colorado at Boulder: A new project to integrate an engineering program into the I&E ecosystem in Gunnison, Colorado. Engineering students will learn how to solve challenges in the local community and support rural economic development through their innovations.
  • Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center: A new course in the Health Sciences Center to grow the student-led organization Sling Health. Student teams will develop an innovation and learn how to de-risk their technology, test the customer ecosystem, and hypothesize a product-market fit.

Examples of projects that are not a fit for the program:

  • Courses or programs that do not directly encourage development of innovations and technologies that have a positive environmental and social impact
  • Courses or programs that do not include student collaboration as part of an experiential learning pedagogy
  • Pure research or single-project courses (i.e., where there is no student ownership)
  • Courses or programs that are unlikely to continue beyond the grant period
  • Existing courses or programs where there is little change or improvement proposed (i.e., ongoing support requests)
  • Proposals that focus solely on extracurricular activities (e.g. hack-a-thons, business plan competitions, etc.) without a clearly stated connection to existing curriculum or other coursework
  • Courses or programs that are disconnected from other campus and community-based resources (i.e., without a description of how the course/program is part of a larger plan for entrepreneurial ecosystem development)
  • Proposals that do not demonstrate support for the most promising technologies and teams to move beyond the classroom, lab, or club
  • Proposals that do not include a plan to address both supporting diversity and inclusion, and environmental and social sustainability in STEM I&E

Can international programs apply for Course & Program Grants?
Currently we are only able to accept proposals from U.S.-based institutions.

What is the length of the grant period?
Grant periods are 3 years in duration. You may choose to spend the funds in 1 or 2 years.


What are the minimum requirements to apply?

To apply you must:

  • Be at a U.S. college or university
  • Be faculty or staff at a VentureWell member institution
  • Be proposing a new course/program or strengthening an existing course/program that is focused on STEM entrepreneurship

Review the proposal guidelines and application steps.

How do I know if my college/university is a VentureWell member?
Check the list of current VentureWell member institutions, or email and inquire.

How can my college/university become a VentureWell member?
Membership is annual and applies to your entire university or college. Membership is currently free. Learn more about VentureWell Membership.

How do I apply?
We accept applications via our web portal only. You will need to have or create a VentureWell account in order to submit. Create an account or sign in by clicking here.  You may start, save, stop and return to your online proposal at any time before submitting.

When do I apply?
There is one application cycle per year. We typically open the Request for Proposals about six weeks before the deadline date; however, you may begin writing your proposal narrative at any time. Refer to the program guidelines for details on proposal narrative. You must submit your proposal by 11:59 p.m. ET on the day of the grant deadline in order to be considered.

What is the most common mistake made when submitting?
The most common mistake is underestimating the time it takes to navigate your institution’s administrative structure. The application requires verification of support. This step can often take a week or two, depending on your institution’s procedures and processes. At many universities the Office of Sponsored Programs requires a completed proposal for administrative review and approval before it can be submitted. Review the proposal guidelines and the application steps well in advance of the deadline.

Contact your Office of Sponsored Programs to review your institution’s requirements.

Are there examples of diversity and inclusion language from previous proposals I can review?
Extracts from previously funded proposals that model strong planning for diversity and inclusion are available to review:


I have applied to the program. When will I hear whether I have been accepted?
Applicants will be notified of their status within 90 days of the deadline date. Notifications are sent via email to the applicant, PI, and administrative contact.

How are awarded proposals selected?
Proposals are reviewed by panelists from the academic and professional worlds who independently evaluate the proposal based on provided criteria. Proposals are grouped by topic area, and reviewers usually have some expertise in a related field. After independently reviewing the grants, reviewers meet to discuss their opinions, and reach consensus on funding recommendations. Each panel reviews about a dozen proposals in a particular sector area.

What is the percentage of funded grants?
The percentage of funded grants from the total applications varies from cycle to cycle. Over the past few years, there has been a 15%-30% chance of getting funded by VentureWell.

Use of Funds

Will the grant funding be awarded directly to the PI?
No, VentureWell grant funding is awarded to your college or university. Grant funds are administered by an institution’s Office of Sponsored Programs or an equivalent entity. Every institution works a bit differently, so we strongly encourage you to identify an administrative point of contact early and work with that person to learn about your institution’s internal processes and procedures.

If my team is funded, how can we use the grant funds?
A detailed budget with justification must be included in the grant application. Grant funds may be proposed for expenses related to curricular development and course or program realization. Any changes made in the proposed budget during the grant review process will be made clear in the grant award letter. Please see the program guidelines for the list of eligible and ineligible expenses.

Can the grant funds be used for overhead?
VentureWell does not allow overhead to be taken from grants funds with the exception of including fringe benefits in the personnel stipend. We strongly recommend that applicants consult with their Office of Sponsored Programs (or equivalent) to learn their institution’s rules about overhead before submitting an application.

If my proposal is funded, what are my responsibilities as the PI?
At the end of the grant period, you will be prompted to complete a final report describing the status of the project, milestones, impact, and how the funds were used. For grants longer than a year in duration, you will also be prompted for an interim report to report on your progress to date.

Please see the application guidelines for complete information, or contact us.

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