Call for Proposals: Undergraduate Experiential Learning Stewardship Grants

Fall proposal timeline

Open to faculty and staff on OHIO's Athens and regional campuses.

  • Proposal release date: September 8, 2023
  • Proposal submission deadline: October 21, 2023
  • Notification of award: December 1, 2023
  • Funding of up to $5,000 per proposal

Information sessions will be available via Microsoft Teams:

  • September 15, 12 p.m.
  • September 28, 9:30 a.m.

Sign up for the information sessions or request an individual appointment.

Purpose and Overview

Ohio University seeks to make experiential learning opportunities accessible to more students through enhancing affordability and fostering inclusivity in institutional experiential learning programs. To that end, Undergraduate Experiential Learning Stewardship Grants are available to support new and expanded experiential learning opportunities for undergraduate students. Broadly speaking, experiential learning includes community engagement, internships, leadership, research, creative activity, and study away. These experiences may take place in a course, such as a field study, or they may be offered through co-curricular programs, such as an alternative break trip.  Because not all experiences automatically qualify as experiential learning, applicants should read the University’s definition and criteria carefully to ensure that the opportunity for which funding is being sought is indeed experiential learning. 

Funds will be available to recipients for 365 days from the date of approval. Funding may be spent over a period of up to 2 years if a specific project calls for an extended timeline and approval is sought and given in advance. Applicants are strongly encouraged to have a plan for sustaining the proposed experiential learning opportunity at the conclusion of the 1- to 2-year grant period. If the proposed activity is explicitly intended as a one-time opportunity, applicants should be prepared to make a case for institutional investment in said activity despite limited impact. Please do not submit a proposal without first discussing your project with the leadership of your unit.

Ohio University’s Definition and Components of Experiential Learning:

Experiential learning is learning by doing, and then reflecting on the experience to make the future better. It’s a cycle of pre-flection, action, and reflection.

Ohio University has defined experiential learning in this way:  

Experiential learning is an approach to education that emphasizes engaged student learning through direct experience and reflection to increase knowledge, develop skills, and elucidate values. Experiential learning activities are intentionally designed to develop students’ knowledge, skills, and attitudes through experience related to a field. Experiential learning may occur in curricular and co-curricular settings, and involves:

  1. Engagement: Student involvement in the activity is sustained and/or intensive. The experience requires a substantial investment of time and attention to foster deep learning.
  2. Mentorship: Student receives regular, meaningful feedback about student work from activity director or supervisor. Feedback supports student reflection and integration of learning through the activity and goal-setting for future learning.
  3. Challenge: Student engages in activity that pushes one’s boundaries beyond the familiar or explores unknown territory for the purpose of developing knowledge and skills.
  4. Ownership: Student exercises independent judgment in defining and/or executing the activity. Student takes ownership of the process and outcomes.
  5. Self or Social Awareness: Student reflects on the activity by articulating personal, civic/social, and/or academic learning. Student identifies and articulates knowledge, values, and attitudes developed through the activity.

Proposals representing collaboration across units are encouraged.


Proposals must meet the following criteria in order to be reviewed:

  • Originate in an official Ohio University curricular, co-curricular, or research unit that serves undergraduate students on the Athens or a regional campus
  • Seek to provide an experiential learning opportunity that meets ALL the components of the University definition (above)

Successful recipients who do not meet reporting requirements agreed upon in their proposal will not be eligible for funding in future cycles.

Award Amount

Funding of up to $5,000 per proposal is available.  Applicants may be on more than one proposal in a single academic year, but an effort will be made to allocate funding across diverse academic and co-curricular units. 

Appropriate Uses of Funding 

Undergraduate student learning is central to this funding opportunity. These funds can be used to support experiential learning on any Ohio University campus, in our regional community, in our virtual community, out of state, and abroad. Examples of what an award may support include, but are not limited to:

  • Equipment and supplies for student use (ex: tools for field use and art supplies)
    • Equipment purchased through this grant must be retained as university property at the conclusion of the proposed activity for future university use.
  • Student professional development/training (ex: honorarium to local expert for training in a specific skill, student for training program)
  • Student travel (ex: bus or airfare to site of experiential learning)
  • Student wages (ex: summer researchers)

    In calculating student wages, you will need to account for benefits. Worker’s compensation, for example is required for all student employees. Use the Benefit Expense Rates spreadsheet found on the Budget Development Tools webpage link to assist with calculations. 

  • Marketing (ex: postcards to distribute at an event that draws your target audience)
    • Marketing materials should not constitute more than 10% of your total budget request.

Proposals for undergraduate research projects with human or animal subjects can be approved prior to IRB or IACUC approval. However, funding will be withheld until we receive verification of approval or exemption. 

The following are not permissible uses of this funding:

  • Graduate student activities
  • Faculty wages or professional development
  • Operating costs
  • Travel experiences with no intentional learning/reflective elements
  • Disposable, single-use items (ex: styrofoam cups, plastic cutlery. These items are not in line with Ohio University's values of sustainability and are not compelling uses of funds.)
  • Reconnaissance work for study abroad trips. While study abroad programs can be great experiential learning opportunities, planning of such opportunities is not supported by these funds. Faculty/Staff interested in providing new study abroad programs should visit the Office of Global Opportunities

Due to state requirements regarding how source funding for this program (Career and Experiential Learning Fee monies) is spent, this grant cannot support existing opportunities that are already built into the university funding structure or those for which funding has been cut. Applicants must explain how their proposal represents a new or expanded opportunity for students and must be able to adequately demonstrate/document this for the sake of state reporting.

Grant funds cannot be used to reimburse expenses incurred prior to the date of award notification.

Examples of uncompelling projects and things to avoid

Example 1

The Quidditch Student Society is planning a 3-day intercollegiate quidditch tournament. Funds are sought for equipment, daily breakfast for competitors, rental fees for the Walter Fieldhouse, and wages for student referees. Once a pilot tournament is successfully completed, students hope to make this an annual event through collecting entrance fees and soliciting local sponsorships.

Why this is NOT a strong proposal:

  • While an interesting experience, some key elements of experiential learning are missing. There is no plan for engaging in preflection or reflection, and seemingly no mentorship.  While planning and carrying out this event may require deep engagement from Quidditch Student Society members as well as ownership, these elements aren’t explicitly discussed. 
  • No collaboration with other units is overtly mentioned. This proposal could be strengthened through considering collaboration with an academic course, for example Event Planning & Management in Sport Business.


Example 2

Political Science faculty arrange a single-day site visit to Columbus, Ohio to meet with state representatives and observe proceedings of elected bodies. The opportunity is available to eight students, and they’re asked to prepare a list of questions to explore during their site visit.  No feedback is given on students’ questions in advance, neither from peers nor faculty. Students are asked to write a reflective essay after the site visit to describe what they learned and how it influenced their thinking about their field or their future employment. 

Why this is NOT a strong proposal:  

  • The opportunity is limited to a small number of students with no effort to expand that impact upon return to campus.
  • The opportunity is of very short duration, not in keeping with the University’s experiential learning definition which calls for deep engagement.
  • Opportunity leaders do not have a robust plan for facilitating preflection or providing strong mentorship prior to the experience.
  • No sustainability plan is mentioned for continuing this opportunity in future semesters.

Example 3

Physics and engineering faculty have partnered to organize a spring break trip to Cedar Point, America’s Roller Coast. In the evenings prior to each day in the park, students will review concepts such as laws of motion, thermodynamics, fluid dynamics, and electromagnetism.  During each day, students will have access to the rides as well as the water park. The opportunity will be actively marketed to international students as Cedar Point is an often-sought attraction for international visitors.

Why this is NOT a strong proposal:

  • It is not clear that the experiential component of this proposal is necessary for learning on the selected topics to occur.  A stronger case could be made for the value of being at the amusement park – will students have specific assignments or problems to work through while at the park?  Will evening sessions predict and then debunk/confirm ideas about how various laws of physics affect the functioning of various rides?  How else can the experience of being at an amusement park support understanding of the laws of physics.
  • International students are actively recruited but no mention is made of how an inclusive environment will be actively cultivated for them.  A lack of community-building in a residential program could lead to negative experiences for participants and misses out on the opportunity for developing self/social awareness (one of the key elements of the University’s definition of experiential learning).

Preparing and Submitting a Proposal

Proposals must be completed and submitted in one sitting. You cannot save your progress and return to it later. Please read the following information thoroughly so you can be fully prepared to submit the online form in one sitting.   

A complete proposal will include each of the following components. Documents must be saved in .pdf format to be uploaded on the proposal form.

  1. Project description [500 words or less]
    Describe the experiential learning opportunity (ELO) in detail. A complete narrative will address the following
    • Overview: Describe what participants will do, where and when the activity will take place, who will facilitate, identify any partner entities involved, and explain how participants will prepare for engagement in the activity.
    • Alignment with the University’s definition of experiential learning. (See above Purpose and Overview section for a description of each of five key elements.)
    • Depth and breadth of impact: Describe how the project will help us achieve our goal of creating experiential learning opportunities for the greatest possible number of students. Collaborative projects are encouraged. Also, describe any rippling positive outcomes the proposed activity may yield for students who are not direct participants, community members, and/or university partners.
    • Sustainability: How might this activity be sustained beyond two years of funding through this grant opportunity? If longevity is not intended, explain why. 
  2. Reflection plan [250 words or less]
    • Describe the preflection and reflection activities that will occur prior to, during, and after the experience. Who will facilitate this process and provide feedback to participants?
  3. Inclusivity statement [250 words or less]
    • Describe if and how you will intentionally seek to attract or serve diverse students and how you will foster an inclusive environment for first-generation students, students of color, members of the LGBTQ+ community, religiously diverse students, Appalachian students, students with disabilities, and/or other diverse groups engaged in the proposed activity. 
  4. Budget [table or spreadsheet format]
    • Outline your expenses and estimate the cost of each.
    • Be specific! If you intend to use funds from other sources, explicitly describe how the funds from the EL Stewardship Grant will be used.
    • Refer to number 1 regarding sustainability.
  • Additionally, please be prepared to:
    • Identify the person who will be responsible for any account created to disburse funds, if awarded
    • Describe how your project meets the state mandate that these funds be used for new and expanded experiential learning opportunities.
    • Describe where/how any equipment purchased through this grant will be housed, maintained, and accessed for future use (if applicable)

Submit a proposal

You will receive confirmation that your proposal was received.  If you do not, please email for assistance. 

Review and Selection Process

Proposals will be reviewed by a committee convened for the sole purpose of stewarding this funding. Representation to this committee includes students, staff, and faculty, and includes expertise in each of the areas of experiential learning: community engagement, creative endeavor, internships, leadership, research/scholarship, and study abroad/away. Proposals will be evaluated based on the rigor of the proposed experiential learning opportunity, quality of the reflection plan, and clarity of the budget proposal.  

Experiential Learning Steward Grants are funded by the Career and Experiential Learning Fee.

Questions can be directed to Kimberly Jeffers, Associate Director for Experiential Access and Engagement.