Spring 2023 Innovation Grant Applications

Applications for Spring 2023 Innovation Grants are due on Thursday, October 27, at 5:00 p.m. EST. The Initiative will announce selections in mid-November. Projects will take place during the Spring semester.

Apply now!

Frequently Asked Questions

What does the Leadership Initiative mean when it talks about Leadership? 

In its simplest form, we think of leadership as identifying what needs to be done, and finding a way to get there. More specifically, we view leadership as existing along three dimensions (Leading Self, Leading Others, and Leading Change) and five domains (Vision and Strategy, Management and Teamwork, Problem Solving, Cultural Literacy, and Learning and Improvement). For more information, please see this matrix.

What is the Innovation Grant, and what do you look for in applicants?

The Innovation Grant program provides students with resources and support to implement a semester-long project aimed at having a positive impact at the Law School and in the broader community. The program builds on research showing that small grants can cultivate greater impact when situated within a larger context and movement for change. Innovation Grants provide up to $1,000 in resources and ad hoc support for students who can work relatively independently and want a self-directed vehicle for their projects. Grants are also open to faculty and staff.

Grant applicants should show strong engagement with and capacity for leadership, broadly defined. They should also have a demonstrated track record of academic excellence, the ability to work both independently and collaboratively, and a compelling project proposal that seeks to achieve a positive impact at the Law School or in the broader community, as well as to expand the leadership capacities of others in the community.

Examples of past Innovation Grant projects are available here.

Who is eligible to apply?

Innovation Grants are open to currently enrolled J.D. and LL.M. students, as well as to Columbia Law School faculty and staff.

These are Spring 2023 Grants? Why are you doing applications now?

We received feedback in the past that grant recipients felt pressed for time when we did the selection process in the Spring (meaning projects did not get started until mid-February or early March). We want recipients to have the whole Spring semester to do their projects, so we have moved the selection process earlier.

What is the time commitment for an Innovation Grant recipient?

It largely depends on your project. During the first few weeks of the Spring semester, Grant recipients should expect to spend 1–3 hours per week in leadership development sessions, meetings, and check-ins. After that, grant recipients may meet together or with members of the Initiative as often or as infrequently as they wish, although they should expect to provide regular reports on their progress to the Initiative Director.

In addition to initial trainings and meetings, Grant recipients will spend additional time on their project-related efforts, and that time commitment will depend upon the nature of the project.

Are Public Interest/Public Service Fellows eligible to apply? 


My project idea is geared toward the private sector, and is not really a public interest project. Can I still apply?

Yes! Positive change in the community can mean many different things to different people. We are actively looking for participants across the full spectrum of interests and career aspirations.

I'm applying for an Innovation Grant with a group. What should we know about the group application process?

Your group should submit only one (1) application for the whole group, and you should therefore plan to collaborate on the application, just as you would collaborate on your project if selected to receive a Grant. The application allows you to upload up to 10 CV/resumes and up to 10 unofficial transcripts so that each member of your team can include their relevant documents. As with an individual project, a group project is eligible to receive a total of up to $1,000 in expense funding.

I heard that you also offer Fellowships. What is the difference between a Grant and a Fellowship?

The main differences are in expected commitment and the personal stipend.

Fellowships are year-long projects for students who are committed to spending a year working on a project and building a cohort with other fellows, including through weekly leadership development sessions. Fellows receive a $5,000 personal stipend in addition to project funding.

Innovation Grants, on the other hand, are for semester-long projects, and are intended to be more independent and self-guided. As with Fellows, Innovation Grant recipients are eligible to receive up to $1,000 in project funding, but they are not required to attend leadership development sessions, and they do not receive the additional $5,000 personal stipend.

At the moment, we are only accepting applications for Innovation Grants. 

I previously applied for a Fellowship and/or an Innovation Grant, and I was not selected. Can I reapply?

Yes! A number of our Fellows and Grantees are students who were not selected in their first application cycle and reapplied. Those interested in reapplying are encouraged to contact Director Eunice Hong (eh2646@columbia) for feedback on their prior applications.

I just submitted my application. Now what?

The Director and Co-Chairs will review each application after the application deadline. Applicants who are selected to proceed to the next round will be invited to interview with the Initiative over Zoom. After the interviews, the Director, Co-Chairs, and Committee will deliberate and make final selections. Grant recipients will be announced in mid-November.

I'm not sure if I am ready with a project idea to apply for an Innovation Grant, but I am interested in learning more about leadership offerings at CLS. Do you have anything for me?

We are thrilled to meet with anyone who is interested in learning more about leadership opportunities, coaching, and/or training. Please email leadershipinitiative@law.columbia.edu, and we will set up a time to talk. You can also directly email Eunice Hong at eh2646@columbia.edu