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Grants and Funding

Find grant-writing guides and information on U-M and Stamps grant opportunities.

Big Idea Award

The Stamps School of Art & Design, with generous support from the Stamps Family, friends, and other supporters in the community, proudly offers the Big Idea Award in memory of alumna Penny W. Stamps (1944-2018).

The award provides one Stamps senior or eligible team $25,000 to help launch a major, ambitious project after graduation. The winner will be announced as part of the Stamps Commencement celebrations. A committee of external reviewers nominated by Stamps faculty and representing a wide range of expertise will determine the winner. To date, the Stamps School has celebrated two Big Idea Award recipients:

“What’s your big idea?” Penny Stamps asked graduates in her April 2018 commencement speech. “You have your artistic skills — now develop your ideas, your big idea,” she said. “Imagination has no limits.”

The Big Idea Award aims to motivate students to develop ambitious aspirations that reflect the values of a Stamps education; accelerate progress toward achieving those aspirations; and encourage students to rise to the challenge put forth by Penny W. Stamps.


  • Individual applicants: Any Stamps undergraduate major in good academic standing and graduating in December 2021, April 2022, or August 2022 as established by an academic audit by the SWAPC staff.

  • Team applicants: Stamps senior(s) who meet the academic audit criteria stated above may submit a project undertaken by a team of students. All team members must be Stamps students. Teams can include Stamps students who are not yet seniors. While the team will be acknowledged in storytelling about the award, the award itself -- and the financial disbursement -- will only be distributed to Stamps senior(s). If a Stamps senior(s) is considering a team submission, they should be the author of the idea, and be acknowledged amongst their team as the project “lead(s)”. If there is more than one Stamps senior on the team, only one should submit an application. The application will ask that student to specify how the funds should be distributed by percentage to all Stamps seniors on the team.

  • Applicants may be of any citizenship.


Eligible students can apply through Slideroom beginning on October 25, 2021.

Start your application →

Criteria for Award

Applicants will be evaluated on their ability to clearly and convincingly articulate the following via the application process:

  • A singular, focused, and ambitious Big Idea

  • A valued commitment to pursue the Big Idea whole-heartedly, passionately, and successfully

  • A commitment to pursue the Big Idea after graduation

Additionally, students will need to provide evidence of being able to successfully execute their Big Idea. Items to consider include:

  • Experience, skills, and preparation relevant to achieving the Big Idea

  • Ability to gather needed resources

  • Feasibility of the proposed activities


Phoebe Danaher is a screenwriter and visual artist focusing on historical film and television. Danaher was the previous recipient of the Big Idea award for Charlie Blood, a crime drama set in 1901 Chicago, for which she was also the recipient of the Peter and Barbara Benedek Award for Best TV Script. At the moment, she is completing a Master of Management at the Ross School of Business.

Scott Hocking was born in Redford Township, Michigan in 1975. He has lived and worked in Detroit proper since 1996. He creates site-specific installations, sculptures and photography projects, often using found materials and neglected locations. Inspired by subjects ranging from ancient mythologies to current events, his artworks focus on transformation, ephemerality, chance, the cycles of nature, and repetitive human behavior through time. His artwork has been exhibited internationally and nationally, and he has received multiple awards, including a Kresge Artist Fellowship, a Knight Foundation Arts Challenge Grant, and an Efroymson Contemporary Arts Fellowship, as well as residential grants in France, Iceland, Australia, Canada, Brazil, and throughout the United States. He is represented by David Klein Gallery, Detroit.

Chido Johnson is a Detroit artist, recent 2009 Kresge Fellow, as well as a 2009 MacDowell Colony Fellow. Johnson was born and raised in Zimbabwe and Zambia, then moved to the U.S.A. Both his BFA degrees in Sculpture and Painting, with a minor in Drawing, were from the University of Georgia, Athens. Johnson earned his MFA in sculpture from the University of Notre Dame in 2000. Johnson has worked, exhibited, and taught both nationally as well as internationally. Some of these shows include PAFA Museum in Philadelphia, Museum of Contemporary Art in Detroit (MOCAD), the Detroit Institute of Art, Indianopolis Museum of Contemporary Art (iMOCA), the Sullivan Galleries in Chicago, the Printed Matter in New York, Umea University in Sweden, the Cortona Study Abroad Program in Italy, and the National Gallery of Zimbabwe in Harare, Zimbabwe. His work has been reviewed in the Art Papers, Sculpture Magazine, Bad in Sports as well as other notable publications and catalogues. Currently, he is a full-time associate professor and the section chair of Sculpture at the College for Creative Studies.

Sam Schulman is a Director of Strategy at IDEO. Her role sits at the intersection of design and strategy, leveraging the tools of human-centered design to help clients navigate complex subjects and bringing new offers, products, and experiences to market. In addition, Sam co-leads IDEO’s Strategy and Systems Cohort which includes 50+ designers across Systems Design, Strategy Design, Business Design, and Organizational design. In this role, Sam is responsible for defining creative excellence and guiding teams in delivering the highest quality outputs. Sam has a Bachelor of Fine Arts from the University of Michigan.

Aaron Timlin is a poet, producer and plumber. He is CEO of the Chalfonte Foundation, curator and director of detroit contemporary, and founding member of Detroit Broadcasting Company and the Detroit Culture Club. He has served as juror for Art Gallery of Windsor, ArtServe, Rhode Island Council on the Arts, and Anton Art Center, and exhibit assistant for the Whitney Museum. He has been a speaker and presenter for the Canadian Consulate, WSU, U-M, CMU and CCS.


  • Application Opens: October 25, 2021
  • Application Deadline: February 13, 2022 at 11:59 pm
  • Finalists Notified: March 11, 2022
  • References Due from Finalists: March 23, 2022 at 11:59 pm
    As part of the application process, finalists will request up to two references - one reference from a Stamps faculty member is required. SlideRoom will email the referrers/faculty member(s) with a form for completion by Tuesday, March 23, 2022 at 11:59 pm.
  • Awardee Notified: April 5, 2022
  • Unsuccessful Applicants Notified: April 25, 2022
  • Award Announced: April 30, 2022, as part of the Stamps Commencement Celebrations


Please contact Mark Chung Kwan Fan, Director of Student Life, at

Brian Banks Staff Excellence Award

Fund Summary

This Fund was established to honor the significant contributions of beloved staff member Brian Banks’ exemplary work and energy to create community among students, staff, and alums alike. Since he first joined the School in 1998, Brian was dedicated and passionate in his commitment to student success and unity around shared values. This Fund will annually award the Brian Banks Staff Excellence Award to a current staff member who embodies the characteristics that Brian exemplified during his tenure at Stamps. They will be passionate in their creative voice, inspirational to those in our community, and are chosen on the basis of their exemplary work and achievements.

Recipients will receive:

  • An individual cash award of $1,000.
  • A framed award certificate.
  • Public recognition in the Spring.
Eligibility Criteria

The Brian Banks Staff Excellence Award will be received by a current Penny W. Stamps School staff member to recognize the significant contributions to the Stamps School. Recipients of the Brian Banks Staff Excellence Award will be chosen on the basis of their exemplary work and unique achievements in creating community and a sense of belonging. The award is intended to serve as tangible evidence of the Stamps School’s appreciation of its outstanding staff members.

When reviewing nominations, a Selection Committee will look for examples of sustained excellence in an individual’s service. Consideration will be given to nominees who have made significant contributions or possess special qualities and attributes.

Nominees must:

  • Have a minimum of one year of service to the Stamps School of Art & Design in a regular staff position
  • Have a sustained record of superior performance
  • Promote a diverse, equitable and inclusive environment for the Stamps community
  • Have made a significant, measurable, and attributable long-term contribution to the mission/goals of the school.

Selection of the recipients will be based only on the information provided as part of the nomination process. All nomination materials remain confidential.

Nomination Process

Nominations can be received from faculty, staff and students to the Selection Committee. This Committee will make a ranked list of recommendations to the Dean of the Stamps School, who will choose the award recipient. Nominations will be received via online form.

The form includes the following:

  • A brief statement describing the characteristics and attributes of the nominee.
  • A description of the nominee’s involvement in the Stamps School and U-M community.
  • An anecdote or example that illustrates why the nomination is being received.

Click here to make a nomination →

Selection Committee

The selection committee will include the Stamps School Chief of Staff (or senior HR staff of the school), the most recent past award recipient, and a staff member at large to be identified by the Stamps dean. The selected staff member should not be a current nominee, though may be a previous nominee or recipient. If no current staff member is eligible to participate, a representative from the school’s Executive Committee will serve in this capacity.

Additional Information

This award is made possible by an anonymous donor. In recognition of their generosity, recipients will be asked to complete a questionnaire and message of gratitude, as well as to consider filming a short video message to share more about themselves. The Selection Committee will inform all nominees of their nomination via email. A slide deck of all nominated individuals will be used at commencement as public recognition of all the nominees.

MDes Post-Graduate Support

The Stamps MDes Graduate Program supports a variety of scholarships, presentations at conferences, residencies, individually funded projects and post-graduate opportunities. Recent graduate students are eligible to apply for funding opportunities up to five years after graduation. Post-graduate support is not an obligation of the Stamps MDes Program, it is merit based funding that is reviewed by the Associate Dean’s office and the Program Director. Funds are disbursed as reimbursement.

The Stamps MDes program will help fund conference participation, exhibitions and projects on a case-by-case basis.

Review Timeframe: Proposals are reviewed bi-annually (October 15 and February 15).

MFA Post-Graduate Support

The Stamps MFA Graduate Program supports a variety of scholarships, residencies, individually funded projects and post-graduate opportunities. Recent graduate students are eligible to apply for funding opportunities up to two years after graduation. Post-graduate support is not an obligation of the Stamps MFA Program, it is merit based funding that is reviewed by the Associate Dean’s office and the Program Director.

The Stamps MFA program will help fund exhibitions, residencies, and projects on a case-by-case basis.

Partial funding is available for a wide range of fellowships and residencies including support for several residency programs with which Stamps has an ongoing agreement.

Review Timeframe: Proposals are reviewed bi-annually (October 15 and February 15).

Rackham and University Program Funding

Additional fellowships, grants, and scholarships are available through the Rackham Graduate School.

  • The Rackham Conference Travel Grant provides opportunities for Rackham graduate students to present papers and/or posters at academic conferences. Students may apply once per fiscal year. Rackham administered.
  • The Rackham Graduate Student Research Grant is designed to support Rackham graduate students who need assistance to carry out research that advances their progress toward their degree. Rackham administered.
  • The Rackham International Student Fellowship assists outstanding international students, particularly those who may be ineligible for other kinds of support because of citizenship. Rackham administered.
  • Rackham Non-Traditional Fellowships assist master’s students who return to graduate school after an extended absence. Rackham administered.
  • Center for the Education for Women scholarships are available to assist students who have experienced a lapse in education after graduating from high school of at least 48 consecutive or non-consecutive months (not counting interruptions of less than 8 months).
  • Area Studies Centers: The university is home to a number of programs, institutes and centers that provide specialized funding to support research and travel. An example is the International Institute, with 17 area studies centers based on regions around the world.

Research Resources: Stamps/Internal

Use these resources to learn about opportunities for research funding in Art & Design, and guides on how to write for academic journals and book chapters.

Stamps School Award for Lecturer Excellence

The Stamps School Award for Lecturer Excellence recognizes outstanding teaching contributions that engage and inspire the Stamps School community. This yearly award to a member of the Lecturer faculty cohort will be selected from nominations by Stamps students, alumni, lecturers, tenured / tenure track faculty and staff.

The recipient of the Stamps School Award for Lecturer Excellence will receive $2,000.


Stamps School faculty who hold the title of Lecturer I, II, III or Lecturer IV will be eligible for the Stamps School Lecturer Award. To be eligible, a nominee must have successfully completed an interim review and not be on full layoff at the time they are nominated.

Selection Criteria
  • Energetic and sustained commitment to teaching, mentoring and creating an inclusive learning environment
  • Impact on students’ creative and personal growth
  • Other significant contributions to the school such as service, school climate and curricular innovation

Nomination and Selection Process

Students, alums, lecturers, tenured/tenure track faculty colleagues can nominate a lecturer for the Stamps Lecturer Award with this nomination form.

The Stamps Executive Committee will review all nominations, evaluate each based on the selection criteria noted above, and select the award recipient.

See the nomination form for full instructions, deadlines, and selection process timeline.

Stamps Student Professional Development Grants

Description: The Stamps Professional Development Grant is available for Stamps undergraduate and graduate students who are seeking financial support to expand their creative portfolio, contributing to their growth as an artist or designer. This grant supports the development of skills, knowledge, and frameworks that artists and designers need to advance professionally. Examples of approved grant requests involve attending conferences or workshops, or to help with exhibition-related expenses outside of Stamps. Professional development funds cannot be used for costs associated with meeting the requirements of a degree program. Grants typically do not exceed more than $250 per applicant.

To request funding, please complete this form.

Eligibility Criteria:

  • Any currently enrolled undergraduate or graduate student at the Stamps School of Art & Design
  • Any currently active student organization registered and in good standing through the Stamps School of Art & Design and the Center for Campus Involvement
  • Professional Development requests have to meet the standards set by the Student Life unit at Stamps which reads as follows - Attending conferences or workshops, or to help with exhibition-related expenses
  • The professional development opportunity, for which the funds are being requested, has to be completed prior to the student's graduation date
  • Funding is only provided once a semester per applicant
  • Funding can be used to support internships with Stamps faculty members

Preparing for Application Process:

Application Process:

  • Review eligibility criteria
  • Submit an application by completing the application form. Questions within the application process include:
    • Applicant or student organization contact information
    • If applying as an organization - org name, shortcode, and project grant (for student organizations)
    • What professional development opportunity are you looking to fund?
    • How does this professional development contribute to your professional development as a creative?
    • What is the anticipated completion date of the initiative?
    • How much are you requesting? You will be expected to upload a forecasted expense budget.
    • Adherence to grant expectations
  • Funding decision will be communicated to you via email

Grant recipients are expected to:

  • Applications must contain a detailed budget with anticipated expenses for the professional development
  • Provide any pertinent updates/changes to the Stamps Student Life staff ( about the initiative (i.e. change of date, time, or location; no longer needing the professional development grant; etc…)
  • Acknowledge the support of the Stamps School of Art & Design on promotional platforms/materials (as applicable)
  • Provide any expense receipts after the professional development opportunity is completed (as applicable)
  • Complete the Stamps Professional Development Grant Recipient Survey. As part of this survey, recipients will provide a thank you letter to the donor(s) responsible for supporting the Stamps Professional Development Grant

Failure to meet these requirements may result in the termination of the funding agreement.

Funds cannot be used for:

  • Costs associated with meeting the requirements of a degree program
  • Costs associated with Stamps hallmark events and exhibitions such as the Undergraduate Juried Exhibition, Stamps Senior Exhibition, etc…
  • Costs associated with classes/courses outside of the Stamps School
  • Opportunities that do not comply with the law and/or institutional policies
  • Funds cannot be used to directly benefit charity, fundraising efforts, or profit-making initiatives
  • Alcoholic beverages and other drugs

For any questions regarding the Stamps Professional Development Grant, please email

U-M Office of Research and Sponsored Programs

Learn more about the University of Michigan Office of Research and Sponsored Programs, a primary source for externally sponsored grants that directs you through all steps of the grant, from writing a proposal to closing out a funded project.