The Wisconsin Idea is the driving mission to ensure that the education and research at UW-Madison are used to benefit communities beyond our campus borders.
Wisconsin Idea Fellowships (WIF) allow undergraduate students to solve a challenge identified with a local or global community partner with the Wisconsin Idea in mind.
Fellowships are awarded to semester-long or year-long projects designed by an individual or group of students in collaboration with a community organization and a UW-Madison faculty or academic staff member.
On average, 5–10 fellowships are awarded every year. Two special fellowships are specifically dedicated to social entrepreneurship as well as the opportunity gap in Madison.
Meet Hannah Stephens
WIF and Wisconsin Without Borders (WWB) Graduate Mentor Hannah Stephens is a second-year Masters student in the LaFollette School of Public Affairs. Before beginning her graduate studies, Hannah served as an AmeriCorps member for one year. She also worked as a coordinator for two years at Madison East High School with AmeriCorps’ Achievement Connections program.
Hannah assists with the administration of WIF and WWB at the Morgridge Center for Public Service and is a great point of contact for any and all WIF related questions and concerns.
What is the Wisconsin Idea Fellowship?
The Wisconsin Idea Fellowship is a grant opportunity for undergraduate students. These grants are awarded annually to undergraduate students for projects where students are working towards solving a challenge identified along with a local or global community partner.
Who is eligible to receive WIF funding?
Any undergraduate student with sophomore standing. Be mindful, however, that other scholarships may disqualify you from receiving a WIF.
What kinds of projects usually receive funding?
There’s a wide variety. One thing that is unique about WIF is that the projects span a wide range of disciplines. Students come from departments across campus and do projects across Wisconsin and the globe. There have been projects focusing on food insecurity, STEM education, water resources, textiles and business and many more.
What is important to know about the projects that receive money is that is it less about the type of project and more about how well thought out it is. Strong proposals have a solid idea, have taken into account a variety of factors, have a strong budget planned out and great support from a community partner.
What do WIF recipients get?
WIF recipients can receive up to $7,000 in total funding and 3 academic credits. Students are also invited to present their work at the Undergraduate Symposium during the spring semester.
What would you say to someone who wants to apply but is hesitant?
Even if you just have an idea for a project, but it isn’t yet fully formed, come in and talk with Beth Tryon (Assistant Director, Community-Engaged Scholarship at the Morgridge Center) or myself. We are able to help students flush out their project ideas and offer suggestions of next steps.
What are some of the logistics of WIF that I should know about?
There is an application process, which is similar to writing a grant. We recognize that most undergraduate students have never written a grant before and that it can be a daunting process.
However, both Beth and I are happy to meet with students and offer suggestions and feedback. In addition, there is a priority deadline for submissions. If students submit their proposals by Friday, Jan. 25 at 5 p.m., I will review and send them back with feedback. This gives students a week to make changes before submitting a final proposal by Friday, Feb. 8 at 5 p.m.
There are a few scholarships that disqualify students from a receiving a WIF. If you are wondering if your scholarship falls under that umbrella, please reach out to Beth or I.
Students receiving a WIF are required to participate in the spring Undergraduate Research Symposium as well as submit a five-page reflection at the end of their project.
Why should I apply for WIF?
It’s a really cool opportunity! The WIF is a unique opportunity for undergraduate students to gain experience writing a grant, collaborating with a community partner and engaging in community-based work.
Priority deadline: Friday, Jan. 25 at 5 p.m.
Final deadline: Friday, Feb. 8 at 5 p.m.
Learn more about the Wisconsin Idea Fellowships here.
This article was updated on Dec. 10 at 1:52 p.m.