Mini-Grants & Residencies Frequently Asked Questions

When writing their proposals, applicants are expected to review this Q&A section to ensure compliance with the various grants' requirements.

Q:  When will applicants be notified of the decision made on their proposals?
A:  All applicants will be notified of the decision made regarding their application following the review committee’s meetings and subsequent FCI review (to ensure compliance with campus, FCI, and Mellon requirements). Because the duration of the review process varies, a specific date is not available.

Q: Will applications other than humanities and art-centered be accepted?
A: Because the Mellon Foundation's mission is to support the arts and humanities, priority will be given to proposals that clearly connect with the Foundation's purpose, although proposals in STEM fields will be considered. Preference will also be given to proposals demonstrating a clear engagement with NAIS methods and materials. 

Q: Do I have to submit my application through my institution's Grants and Sponsored Research office?

A: No.

Last January The Andrew Mellon Foundation awarded FCI a NAIS grant on behalf of the Five Colleges and that grant is being redistributed to the campuses in the form of mini-grants and residencies and other initiatives. Because this is not a sub-award, the awarded grants will not be allocated to each Grants and Sponsored Research office or the individual applicants but to the appropriate departments based on the funds’ purposes. For example, if a mini-grant is given for a course buyout, the funds will be administered by the Provost Office; for a grant awarded to purchase equipment, the funds will be given to the department needing the equipment. The respective offices or departments will then apply their institutions’ rules and regulations regarding management of the funds.

Q:  Will the grants be awarded to the faculty member directly or their institution?

A: Some budget items will be paid directly by Five Colleges, inc. while others will be covered by each institution, which will in turn request reimbursement from FCI. FCI will work with each campus to allocate or reimburse all approved budget lines. 

The grant funding will support the work as proposed and therefore must abide by each campus’ grant regulations. The lead faculty member on each mini-grant will be responsible for reporting on the funded work and for coordinating with their campus personnel and FCI personnel to ensure compliance with all relevant regulations.

Q:  Do applicants from any of the five colleges have to comply with their internal grant regulation requirements?

A:  Applicants from the Five Colleges do not need to apply through their respective grants offices; however, proposals need to comply with each institution's guidelines regarding travel, stipends, etc. when applicable. Prospective grantees with specific questions about the applicability of these regulations are encouraged to contact Ray Rennard, the Five College Director of Academic Programs.

Q:  Can Five College faculty apply for a mini-grant or a residency or does it represent a conflict of interest?

A:  Faculty from within the Five Colleges may apply for mini-grants and for funding to host residencies, as these are intended to support scholars and artists who join the Five College community for a short period of time (anywhere from a few days to an academic year).

Q:  Are faculty from outside Five College campuses allowed to apply?

A:  Only full-time, continuing faculty from the Five College Consortium can officially be the lead applicant but they can collaborate with non-Five College faculty or Indigenous artists, authors, activists, and community historians.

Q:  Can adjunct faculty apply?

A:  No, only continuing faculty can apply, though adjunct faculty may collaborate on mini-grant projects. Because the project is intended to have a long-lasting impact on curricula, only faculty who are eligible to shape campus curricula (e.g., by submitting proposals for new courses or academic programs) may lead a mini-grant project.    

Q:  Can a student be a co-author on the grant?

A:  Students cannot apply or co-apply but may play a role in the actual project and applicants are encouraged to define what roles and responsibilities students will have, how many hours they are expected to work, etc.

Q: What is the maximum amount awarded for a mini-grant?

A: $10,000

Q: What is the maximum amount awarded for a residency?
A. Awards for residencies vary based on the duration of the planned activities. Residency awards are $10,000 for a short-term residency of 1-4 weeks, $30,000 for a one-semester residency, and $60,000 for an academic year residency.

Q: Are some expenses not covered by the Mellon grant and therefore cannot be included in proposals? 

A: Mellon Foundation funding may not be used to purchase equipment or supplies other than books (up to $500), conference materials, and curriculum development materials. This funding also does not support projects exclusively in the social sciences or STEM fields, one-time conferences, undergraduate tuition, food, or major equipment. Journal subscriptions will be reimbursed for up to one year and only if the publication is unavailable from a Five College library.


Q:  How many faculty should be involved in the development of a new course module?

A:  Faculty are encouraged to collaborate but there is no requirement regarding the number of team members. Because this is a Five Colleges project, preference will be given to projects that involve participants from multiple campuses or can otherwise demonstrate that outcomes will extend beyond a single campus.

Q:  If a group of faculty wanted to start a study group about integrating Indigenous studies into their existing courses would that be feasible?

A:  The goal of the mini-grants is to integrate Native American and Indigenous Studies into the Five College curricula. Applicants are invited to define their own paths and methods to achieve that goal in their proposals.
All projects are expected to have deliverables that can be reported to The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation as contributing to the curriculum development goals of the funding.

Q:  Can I apply for a mini-grant in the fall and a complementary residency in the spring?

A:  Yes. A single proposal may include both of these components (to occur simultaneously or in sequence) or separate proposals may be submitted.

Q:  Can funds be carried over into the next academic year?

A:  Funds awarded in a given year can be carried over to the next calendar year.  All proposals should include a timeline for funded activities. Funding will be available in multiple rounds during the duration of the grant.

Q:  Could a project begin in the spring and resume in the fall?

A:  Yes. Projects can span multiple semesters. Awardees are required to submit a project status report mid-way through the project and at the completion of the project. All proposals should include a timeline for funded activities. Funding will be available in multiple rounds during the grant's lifetime.

Q:  Can faculty receive a stipend?

A:  Faculty stipends refer to any payments to be made to any faculty collaborators and are subject to the policies of their respective institutions, which also apply to faculty from outside the Five Colleges. Note that faculty typically cannot receive payment for work that is considered part of their normal job duties. Payments to faculty need to be included in the budget if they’re necessary to the project and will  be considered on a case by case basis during the review process. 

Note: The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation does not fund benefits. Benefits should not be included in proposals and should be funded from a different source.

Q: Is there a set amount for faculty stipends?

A: In keeping with the campus policies, payments to individual faculty members should not exceed a rate of $2,500 per course.

Q: Is there a set amount for class speakers?

A: For the FCI Mellon NAIS grant, the rate for payments to individual class visitors has been set at $350. Please contact Bea Cusin ( with questions on payments to speakers.

Q: Is there a set amount for materials and supplies?

A: The approved limit for materials and supplies is $500 unless the awardee submitted documented needs.

Q:  Is it required/expected that students be paid in some way for the projects, or is that line item optional?

A:  Student involvement in grant-driven curriculum development projects is not required. That line is optional. If the faculty envision student engagement as part of their projects, applicants are expected to explain in detail the roles they see students having and the number of hours they anticipate students to contribute, etc. In some cases, students may participate for academic credit rather than for pay.

Q:  What are the reporting requirements?

A: Grantees will be expected to fulfill a limited number of requirements, such as submitting syllabi and/or a project report, give a public presentation, providing expense reports, and completing Project Status Reports mid-way through the project and upon its completion.

Q:  Would residencies be hosted at Five Colleges, Incorporated or one of the campuses?

A:  Residencies may be, for example, Indigenous artists, authors, activists, and community historians, and may be housed at FCI or on one of the member campuses, as appropriate to the residency. As noted above, preference will be given to residencies that benefit multiple campuses, though they may be “housed” on a single campus. Campus and FCI policies severely restrict on-site residencies during the Covid-19 pandemic, therefore we recommend that you check your campus' policy regarding in-person residencies before submitting an application. Priority will be given to projects that take place virtually if in-person events are not possible.

Q:  Can the project be complementing curriculum vs. directly related to curriculum development?

A:  Curriculum development is an essential part of The Mellon Foundation’s expectations for this grant and should be the primary purpose of the mini-grants, though they may also include co-curricular activities.