Wisconsin Idea Fellowships are awarded annually to undergraduate student projects working towards solving 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. Here’s what potential mentors should know:
How can I get funding from WIF?
Faculty members cannot receive direct funding, as WIF 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.
What do I do if a student approaches me about being a faculty mentor?
Faculty should consider a request carefully as the commitment requires close mentorship and is officially a three-credit independent/directed study. The faculty needs to have some expertise in the field around which the student is proposing a project. 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 Beth Tryon at firstname.lastname@example.org.
What are the expectations and responsibilities of faculty mentors?
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.
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.
There is a project implementation budget of up to $2,000 that can be applied to project related costs such as supplies, equipment, travel or other project expenses. These expenditures are reimbursable based on the submission of receipts to the WIF Project Assistant and/or the Morgridge Center for Public Service Department Administrator, Dean Ladwig. The student(s) also directly receives a personal award stipend which often they devote to the project expenses as well, but that is not required by us. That stipend is meant to encourage students to devote time to the project they might otherwise have to spend working to pay their expenses, but many students choose to scale projects up to a higher level than the implementation budget and contribute all or part of their stipend to the project.
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 award stipend.
If you are advising an international WIF project please note that if the project will be implemented in a country that currently has a U.S. State Department Travel Warning, you will need to have approval from the University International Travel Committee (UITC). The WIF program expects that WIF faculty mentors will guide their WIF teams through this process and act as their primary emergency contact. The travel warning waiver request form can be found here. If you have any questions about this requirement, please contact Ron Machoian, International Safety and Security Director, at email@example.com.