The 2019 spring application period for the JICUF Student Funds will begin on January 21st.
Since this student grants program was established in 2016, JICUF has supported numerous projects by both undergraduate and graduate students at ICU.
At the same time, many students are not familiar with the idea of “grants,” and some confuse it with scholarships. Who can apply, what can it be used for, and how much can they ask for, are some frequently asked questions. We asked JICUF Program Manager Fernando Rojas to answer these questions.
Q: What is the JICUF Student Fund? Why was this program created?
ICU students are curious and have a wide range of interests and passions. Through the Student Fund, which was launched in 2016, JICUF is able to support projects that not only reflect these interests and passions, but also fit within JICUF’s mission.
The Student Fund is an online application system that offers ICU students an opportunity to apply for financial support to conduct innovative, original projects. There are two categories under the Student Fund: the Student Travel Fund and the Student Activities Fund. There are two application periods per year: a Spring Cycle and a Fall Cycle. The Spring Cycle starts in late January and ends in early April. The Fall Cycle starts in late August and ends in early November.
Each year, JICUF allocates a budget of around ¥5,000,000 to the Student Fund. Over the past three years, we have awarded over ¥11,500,000 to support 45 student projects. On average, that is almost ¥255,000 per project.
Q: What kind of projects does JICUF support through the Student Fund?
Although we are open to supporting a wide variety of ideas, projects must meet certain criteria.
Firstly, the project must fall within the scope of at least one of the following themes:
Projects under this theme may involve international travel, focus on international issues, or include international collaborations.
Projects under this theme either contemplate, examine, enact, and/or express Christian values such as compassion, social service, peaceful inclusion, and unbiased acceptance. Examples include volunteer work, faith-based activities, projects that focus on the marginalized and the poor, etc.
Projects under this theme have either a research or teaching component, or deal with issues faced by the ICU community. Projects include research trips related to a student’s major, academic events hosted at ICU, workshops that benefit ICU students and faculty, etc.
In addition to these themes, project proposals must be submitted to one of the following categories: Student Travel Fund and Student Activities Fund.
As the name implies, the Student Travel Fund is for projects that require travel. Students can apply for travel support both within and outside of Japan. Student Travel Fund projects, however, must be for either research or volunteering. Research projects must be related to the applicant’s major or minor for undergraduate students or field of study for graduate students. Volunteer projects must involve some type of service component..
The Student Activities Fund is designed to support student events and activities. Projects under this category must either benefit or be of strong interest to the ICU community.
Three years in, we continue to be impressed with the quality of projects proposed by ICU students. Through the Student Travel Fund, we have been able to send students abroad for senior thesis research, community service, and social entrepreneurship. For example, we supported a project by two students who established a coding bootcamp for youth in Nepal. Another group of students traveled to Nagano to study Jomon-era obsidian artifacts at an archeological site.
Through the Student Activities Funds, we have supported events hosted by the Spanish Speaking Society, Modern Dance Society, TEDxICU, Theatre NIJI, ICU Debate Tournament, etc.
Q: Up to how much funding will JICUF provide for a project? Is there a maximum amount students can ask for?
We have no minimum or maximum award amount. Project budgets have been as small as ¥30,000 and as large as ¥800,000. We are open to project budgets of all sizes as long as we feel confident that the project is well-planned and feasible.
Q: Does it have to be a group project?
While student circles, clubs, and even informal groups are welcome to apply, you can also choose to apply alone. For example, many students applying to the Student Travel Fund in support of their senior thesis research apply individually. We have no preference for either individual or group projects.
Q: What kind of proposals are more likely to get approved?
JICUF is interested in funding original projects designed, planned and implemented by students. We also support proposals that expand or build on current, ongoing projects and activities. However, please note that we do NOT accept applications that revolve around paying the participation fee for an existing program. We want to encourage ICU students to think outside the box when they come up with ideas.
Projects should have clear objectives and a well-structured and feasible activity plan. Some proposals we have reviewed are great ideas, but need work with structure. Successful applicants focus on how they execute their projects and not on why they want to do the project.
Q: What are some common mistakes that students make in their proposals? Are there any tips for creating a strong proposal?
Writing a project proposal is a skill that may not come naturally to most people. It is different from academic writing where you support a hypothesis with evidence. In a grant application, you must focus on creating an activity plan. While motivation is important, the focus should be on the activities necessary to execute the project.
The spring application period ends on February 25th. We look forward to receiving many applications!