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SCORE (Strengthening the Core) Academic Innovation Funds Details

At a Glance

by Application
Application Period: 
Applications welcome anytime
Typically up to one year
Amount Awarded: 
Up to $5,000; higher amount considered for proposals involving multiple departments


Strengthening graduate education within academic departments and degree programs is crucial for ensuring our students have the best possible educational experiences.

The VPGE’s SCORE (Strengthening the Core) Academic Innovation Funds are available for faculty to examine long-existing practices and experiment with new approaches for graduate education within a degree program or across several academic programs.

In 2021-22, VPGE will focus SCORE funding on projects related to diversity, inclusion, equity, and justice, in alignment with the university’s IDEAL Initiative and VPGE’s commitment to advancing racial justice. This focus does not exclude other promising ideas, though we hope that you consider the impact of the project on the experiences of students with diverse backgrounds and experiences in your degree program.

We encourage faculty to explore opportunities for cost-sharing by schools, degree programs, and other campus centers and institutes, to allow our limited SCORE funds to support more projects. We seek innovative projects for which SCORE serves as seed funding for a pilot or proof-of-concept project. We also encourage faculty to engage students in the project development and implementation, as this provides valuable “ground-truthing” for faculty and professional experience for students.

The types of projects SCORE might fund include:

  • Improving the quality of faculty-student advising and mentoring
  • Developing peer-mentoring programs to support retention
  • Fostering a more diverse and inclusive community; reducing student isolation
  • Learning about racial justice in your discipline or in higher education
  • Improving practices to promote diversity in recruitment, outreach, selection, and yield
  • Examining admissions data and experimenting with holistic review processes
  • Supporting students to explore and prepare for a variety of career paths
  • Engaging graduate students more fully in Stanford’s collaborative intellectual community

Download a SCORE summary and representative projects.

How To Apply

Stanford faculty, typically university tenure-line faculty who have primary responsibility for graduate education, are eligible to apply for SCORE Academic Innovation Funds. Proposals following the guidelines below can be submitted by teams of faculty within one degree program or across degree programs via this online application. Proposals are considered on a rolling basis. Proposed budgets and scope of activities may be refined and negotiated in consultation with VPGE. 

1)  Project Name and Brief Summary

2)  Project Proposal

a)   Objectives: Which challenge in graduate education are you addressing? Why is this timely and relevant for your discipline and degree program? Who will be impacted by the project?

b)   Implementation: What plan of action is proposed? What is the timeline for planning and implementation? Who is leading the project?

c)   Outcomes:  What do you hope to learn and achieve from this project? How will you evaluate the outcomes? 

d)  Sustainability: How will you sustain the effort or institutionalize what you learn?

3)  Budget

Requests for up to $5,000 will be considered, including expenses for meetings or events, graduate student stipends for activities related to the SCORE proposal, outside consultants, including focus group facilitators, and other reasonable costs. Requests for expenses that would typically be covered by degree program funds, such as faculty salaries, are rarely covered and should be clearly justified. 

Applicants are encouraged to pursue cost-sharing opportunities, such as school or degree program funds, when possible, which will allow SCORE funds to support more projects.

A brief report at the end of the project should reflect on these questions:

  1. How well were the project’s objectives met?
  2. What lessons were learned, and how will they impact graduate education in the future?
  3. Were funds used for expenses that differ substantially from the proposed budget?
  4. How might the project be sustained?

Questions? Please send an email to