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Wisconsin Idea Fellowship: For Faculty

Wisconsin Idea Fellowships are awarded annually to undergraduate student projects working towards addressing a challenge identified along with local or global community partner. Fellowships are awarded to semester-long or year-long projects designed by an undergraduate student (or group of students) in collaboration with a community organization and a UW-Madison faculty or academic staff member.

Faculty and instructional staff mentors are a key component to the Wisconsin Idea Fellowship program.

Make a gift to The Michael Thornton and Nora Medina Social Innovation Award.

Supported by the generosity of Professor Michael Thornton and Nora Medina, the funds will be awarded to a project that demonstrates support for ethnically diverse communities regarding affordable housing and or issues to help close the academic resource gap.

Each Wisconsin Idea Fellowship project must include a UW–Madison faculty/instructional staff mentor. Mentors must agree to work with students before a proposal is submitted.

A WIF project can be based on current mentor research/work or it can be a completely new endeavor. Some WIF projects have been used to allow students to help mentors further current work. Other projects are new ideas from students that mentors provide their support for.

Who is eligible? How to apply? What does financial support look like?

Read more on the Wisconsin Idea Fellowship: Q&A.

Contact Community-Engaged Scholarship Graduate Laura Livingston if you have any questions.

What Potential Mentors Should Know

Faculty members cannot receive direct funding, as Wisconsin Idea Fellowship is a program designed for undergraduate projects.

However, if you have a current project that would benefit from additional undergraduate support in ways consistent with the goals of WIF, you can encourage undergraduate students to submit that piece of a project for WIF consideration.

Faculty should consider a request carefully as the commitment requires close mentorship and is officially a three-credit independent/directed study.  If not, they should refer the student to any colleagues or departments they might know of that might help. If faculty need help locating another mentor for a student, they can advise the student to contact Laura Livingston, Community-Engaged Scholarship Graduate.


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Expectation One

If you accept the role of mentor, the student will bring you a draft of their proposal for your approval and will ask for your signature on the application. You may end up meeting with the student several times to review the proposal and suggest changes. Or you may be more closely involved with the project already and advise the student on what their contribution might entail.

Expectation Three

There is a project implementation budget that can be applied to project-related costs such as supplies, equipment, travel or other project expenses. Funding for project development and implementation will be sent to the faculty mentor’s department to be disbursed through their purchasing process and/or reimbursed based on the submission of receipts for the expenses. Receipts need to be submitted to the students’ faculty mentor and/or their department’s financial contact. If all funds are not needed for project supplies and expenses, Wisconsin Idea Fellowship students can qualify for a scholarship award of between $1,000 – 5,000, depending on project duration and number of students on team.

Expectation Five

If you are advising an international WIF project please note that the UW-Madison International Resources, Guidelines and Policies 12.17  prohibit university-affiliated student travel to locations under a current U.S. Department of State (DoS) Level 3 (reconsider travel) or Level 4  (do not travel) advisory designation, those specifically designated as a “travel warning” location by the Provost, or that is under a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Warning Level 3 notice.   If any of the specific locations you are entering fall into the categories above, you will need to request a waiver two months before embarking on your travel.

If you have any questions about this requirement, please contact Ron Machoian, International Safety and Security Director.

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Expectation Two

If the proposal is accepted, the mentor will engaged with their students in a facilitated experience with the following process recommended:

  • An informal memorandum of understanding is created by the student(s) and the mentor that details how the student will be graded and how they will be advised through the WIF experience.
  • Mentors will assist students in preparing for the project, in implementation and after the experience by facilitating opportunities for the students to engage critically in the habits of critical service-learning.

Expectation Four

You will be responsible for grading the student and helping them submit a final project implementation budget report to us, after which time they will receive the last half of their scholarship award.

American Family Insurance

The Wisconsin Idea Fellowship in Social Entrepreneurship is generously supported by American Family Insurance.

The Michael Thornton and Nora Medina Social Innovation Award proudly supports projects targeting the opportunity gap in Madison. Make a gift to the Michael Thornton and Nora Medina Fund.