Live the Idea: Wisconsin Idea Fellowship applications now open

For over a century, UW-Madison students, faculty and staff have accepted the challenge of the Wisconsin Idea. Now a new generation of students has the opportunity to answer that call.

The Wisconsin Idea Fellowships (WIF) program is seeking proposals from undergraduate students for original community-engaged projects at home and across the world.

Students can learn more about the program at an information session on Tuesday, Nov. 11 at 7 p.m. in room 154 of the Red Gym.

All UW-Madison students with at least sophomore standing are eligible to submit a WIF proposal—either as an individual or as a group of up to five students. Students work with a faculty mentor and a community partner to design and implement a project that will benefit the community.

Projects are eligible for a student academic award of up to $5,000 and up to $2,000 in additional project implementation funds. WIF students also earn academic credit for their projects.

Junior Hasan Nadeem spent two months this past summer as a Wisconsin Idea Fellow in Honduras—an experience he says gave him a new perspective on the world.

“It’s completely changed me as a person,” Nadeem said. “Not only being able to travel internationally, but learning from people who aren’t like myself. It’s given me a much, much better perspective on life.”

WIF projects can last for as short as a single summer term and as long as a full academic year. Eligible projects can take place locally, nationally or globally.

Aubrey Winkie, Ali Miller and Sofia Halgren developed programming to educate Kenyan communities on the nutritional benefits of local Morgina Trees. The three say it was important to work with the community in building a sustainable program that local leaders could take charge of.

“I really wanted to make a WIF proposal that put the ownership within the community and have them grow with it,” Winkie said. “So they are able to keep the project going and keep teaching when we left.”

The three say the Wisconsin Idea Fellowships give students a unique opportunity to work closely with professors and gain grant writing and project proposal skills. But more important was the experience of working with a community to develop real change.

“Just to be able to see what this program has been able to do… to get the community excited and happy about something and to see something better for their future and their kids,” Miller said. “Just talking about it again makes me so excited.”

Applications for 2015-16 are now open through Feb. 13, 2015 at 5:00 p.m.Students who submit proposals by Jan. 28, 2015 will receive initial feedback and the opportunity to resubmit by Feb. 13. Students will receive notifications on acceptance by the end of March 2015.

More information as well as application materials can be found here. Students can also browse past WIF projects here.

Any questions can be sent to WIF Graduate Fellow David Metler at