Graduate Student Grants in Public Scholarship

The Rackham Program in Public Scholarship helps University of Michigan graduate students develop the skills needed to address complex social issues through collaborative, mutually-beneficial projects that serve the public good. The grants are generously supported by The University of Michigan Office of Research.


Event Date
Letter of intent deadline October 24, 5:00 pm, Eastern time
Proposal Workshop November 11, 9:30 am to 1:00 pm, Eastern time
Full proposal deadline January 17, 5:00 pm, Eastern time
Grants Announced Late February

Applications should be submitted via e-mail to

Program Description and Goals

The Grants in Public Scholarship support mutually beneficial projects between Rackham students and a broad spectrum of civic organizations, cultural institutions, government agencies, K-12 schools, and community groups. Such projects are collaboratively-designed and result in products that advance new knowledge, enrich civic life, or address a pressing social issue.

The goals of the Grants Program are to support these collaborations by:

  • Providing resources, networking, and training opportunities to increase the depth and impact of graduate student engagement in public scholarship
  • Promoting the creation and dissemination of public goods and scholarly knowledge
  • Providing professional development opportunities for graduate students interested in publicly-engaged careers both inside and outside the academy

Who Should Apply

Rackham students are eligible to receive up to $8,000 to develop and implement mutually-beneficial projects designed in collaboration with non-academic partners. Grants may be awarded to individual students working with a community partner or those working as part of a multidisciplinary team.

Role of Faculty Members

The Rackham Program in Public Scholarship encourages graduate students to identify faculty members who will serve as mentors on the development and implementation of projects that promote the public good, however, the involvement of a faculty member is not required to apply for a Grant in Public Scholarship.

How to Apply

Rackham students should submit a 2-3 page letter of intent describing their proposed project. This letter should identify potential community partners and outline the research, teaching, or creative work that will result from the project. Students may wish to schedule a meeting with Rackham staff prior to the deadline. Letters of intent should address the following questions:

  • What is the scholarly question or pedagogical goal that motivates the project?
  • In what ways will the project advance the scholarship, pedagogy, or creative work of the graduate student(s)?
  • In what ways will the project contribute to the mission of the community partner(s)?
  • What method(s) will be used to assess the impact of the project?

Letters should be e-mailed to by Monday, October 24 at 5:00 pm, eastern time.

Proposal Workshop

We are committed to working with you to develop a competitive proposal. Because publicly-engaged scholarship presents unique challenges, graduate students who meet the stated criteria and submit successful letters of intent are required to attend a half-day workshop. Community partners are encouraged to attend this workshop, which will provide additional information about grant expectations, as well as opportunities to discuss proposed projects within a supportive environment.

Selection Criteria

  • Significance, timeliness, innovation, and feasibility of proposed scholarship, pedagogy, or creative work
  • Extent to which the project advances the mission of the community partner(s)
  • Depth of collaboration with community partner(s)
  • Demonstrated commitment to publicly-engaged work
  • Expressed interest in being actively involved in The Rackham Program in Public Scholarship network

Funding Specifications

Grant money may be used for items such as research material, travel, stipends, documentation, and costs associated with scholarly publication or the production of tangible public goods, such as performances, programming, and exhibitions. Funds may also support the development and implementation of engaged courses.

Successful proposals will do the following:

  • Identify a committed community partner—for example, a school, non-profit organization, cultural institution, government agency, or neighborhood group—and include a partnership agreement that describes the expected contributions of each team member.
  • Demonstrate how the project will benefit the community partner(s) and advance the scholarship, pedagogy, or creative work of the graduate student(s).
  • Include specific and feasible plans for the creation of scholarly publications, creative projects, pedagogical materials, and/or tangible public goods. Project outcomes may include websites, digital archives, films, podcasts, performances, K-12 curriculum and/or workshop modules, undergraduate course syllabi, policy analyses and briefs, white papers, presentations, articles, exhibitions, and catalogs.
  • Include a concise budget and budget narrative describing how the grant money will be used. Stipend requests must include details concerning the level of student time and effort.


  • Receive grant money to develop and implement a project that serves the public good
  • Experience the rewards of scholarship, pedagogy, or creative work that has real social impact
  • Develop new skills and competencies through participation in publicly-engaged scholarship
  • Build new relationships and awareness of how various skills can be applied in different settings
  • Receive assistance with project design and implementation from Rackham staff
  • Learn from and participate in a supportive network of publicly-engaged scholars

Graduate Student Commitments

  • Collaborate with one or more community partners on a mutually-beneficial project that serves the public good
  • Engage in ongoing communication with the intent to resolve any problems that arise
  • Present project results at a Rackham Program in Public Scholarship public event
  • Share insights and lessons learned with The Rackham Program in Public Scholarship community at the Proposal Workshop and/or Institute for Social Change, as well as through web-based platforms
  • Contribute to the Rackham Program in Public Scholarship blog at least twice during the year-long grant cycle

Project Review

Because we believe feedback from both scholars and community partners is essential to establishing publicly-engaged work as a legitimate form of academic inquiry and knowledge production, grantees are encouraged to participate in a project review process.

Contact Us

As interest in public scholarship grows, the number of applicants has increased, making this a more competitive process. We are eager to learn about your prospective project and offer feedback to strengthen your proposal. Please contact us with any questions or to schedule a meeting.