Year of Why Grant Application Information

Please view the grant application guidelines below:

The Provost’s theme year encourages individual students, faculty and staff as well as departments and centers to create programming that relates to the topic in many contexts: the sciences, the humanities, social culture and policy, the arts, etc. To further this goal, the Provost’s office will sponsor a Year of Why Grants Program that will offer opportunities to create, participate in, and learn about curiosity and related fields. Applications will be evaluated based on the criteria listed below.

Penn faculty, students and staff can apply, either individually or in groups. There will be some additional funding at a higher level available for special projects—generally, larger conferences, speakers or special symposia that are co-sponsored by several Penn Schools or Centers. Examples from previous years include a presentation by Will Shortz (NY Times Crossword Puzzle Editor) celebrating the Year of Games and a day-long conference at the Penn Museum on Water and Ancient Civilizations commemorating the Year of Water. 

Grant proposals will be assessed based on the quality and promise of the project and its potential to engage and involve the Penn community. We encourage multi-disciplinary and/or collaborative projects between Penn organizations and schools. Project leaders are encouraged to reach out to other schools and departments, especially to share expertise, networking opportunities, and invitation lists.

The guidelines (below) are for proposals for grants of up to $500.


  • You must be a current University of Pennsylvania student, faculty, or staff member, or a group comprised of at least 80% current University of Pennsylvania students.
  • You may apply as an individual student OR as the representative of a student organization.
  • Faculty and staff projects must engage students as the primary participants.
  • For groups that are not formally registered with the Office of Student Affairs, a sponsoring Penn department or program is required.
  • Funding will be not given for proposals submitted after the activity has taken place. Incomplete applications will not be considered.



  • The review committees will give priority consideration to creative proposals that emphasize scholarly inquiry and academic engagement with the theme.
  • Preference will be given to new events developed specifically for the Theme Year. (If you are requesting funds for an already-existing event, explain how this grant will specifically add a new element.)
  • Preference will be given to those events that are open to all Penn students.
  • Grants can be up to $500, and may be funded in full or in part.
  • Applicants may request funding for the following project expenses: Materials, transportation, equipment, publicity, facilities, fees, and payment to professional performers or technical assistants.
  • Requests for travel or accommodation expenses for individual applicants are rarely funded.
  • Applicants will be encouraged to borrow equipment whenever possible. Please visit our Inventory and list any equipment you'd like to borrow in your application. In the event that items are purchased that can be reused, they must be returned to the NSOAI office.
  • Please submit a thorough and professional application, with all questions answered including logistics, resources needed, and any details that have already been confirmed.
  • Review the complete guidelines for the supplies and reimbursement procedure before submitting your application. This includes information regarding non-reimbursable expenses, reimbursement processing, etc.
  • In the event that we are unable to provide funding, the NSOAI can sometimes offer in-kind support (publicity, securing a venue, staffing, etc.). If interested, contact Troy Majnerick at


Troy Majnerick, 
Associate Director, 
Office of New Student Orientation and Academic Initiatives. 215-573-1218

Grant submissions are close for the academic year 2018-2019! Check back in the summer for more information on grant submissions for 2019-2020.