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EXCEL Enterprise Fund

The EXCEL Enterprise Fund is a funding resource for SMTD students. It offers micro grants of up to $1,000 for students to support individual or team projects that have significant professional development and community impact. In exceptional cases proposals may be awarded up to $1,500.

Our funding guidelines have been impacted by COVID-19, and all school-sponsored engaged learning activities (including any activity funded by EXCEL sources, such as projects, ventures, and/or internships) are subject to both University and state regulations. REVIEW THE NEW GUIDLINES BEFORE APPLYING

Round 1: deadline is October 1, 2021 / notification date: October 15, 2021.

Round 2: deadline is November 5, 2021 / notification date: November 19, 2021.

Round 3: deadline is February 4, 2022 / notification date: February 18, 2022.

Round 4: deadline is March 11, 2022/ notification date: March 25, 2022. (pending available funds)

EXCEL will not consider Round 2 applications until after Round 1 is completed. Likewise, if all funds are exhausted through Rounds 1-3, EXCEL may cancel Round 4.

Primary grant applicant must be a current undergraduate or graduate student in SMTD at the time of application but additional team members can be from any U-M unit.

Projects that are eligible for Rackham Graduate funding will be considered. However, masters and doctoral students eligible for Rackham funding should first consider and, where appropriate, apply for that funding. Such applicants will need to clarify why an EXCEL Enterprise Fund micro grant is the best fit for their proposal.

EXCELerator Fellows are not eligible to apply for an Enterprise Fund grant during the Winter term of their incubator experience. However, EXCELerator Fellows who will remain current undergraduate or graduate SMTD students are eligible to apply for funding for continuing projects or new ones in a future semester (e.g. a Winter 2021 EXCELerator Fellow could apply for an Enterprise Fund grant for a new or related project in Fall 2021, etc.).

Applicants may receive one Enterprise Fund micro grant per academic year, and the selection committee may elect to defer funding until a later cycle (pending proposal revisions) if issues are found.

Projects must be SMTD-based and student-led and include the performing arts as a primary focus. Performance, research, and/or pedagogical projects are all eligible. We encourage projects that involve other units, including collaborations amongst students from both arts-related and non-arts disciplines. Projects that engage with professionals may be considered, as long as the lead applicant is a current SMTD student.

  • This fund WILL NOT typically pay for:
    Attendance and/or travel expenses for conferences, festivals, competitions, apprenticeships, internships, or routine costs associated with curricular study abroad activities.
  • Labor costs associated with work by UM student, faculty, or staff labor. For example, we will not award funding for the purposes of paying UM-affiliated individuals who are members of a project team (e.g. chamber musicians, dancers, theatre troupe team members, composers, design and production personnel, etc.). However, other expenses that are critical to the proposed project (e.g. production costs, supplies, materials, advertising, fees to non-UM professional collaborators, etc.) will be considered.
  • We also typically do not fund recurring, annual activities that are hosted by UM student organizations.

Projects funded by the EXCEL Enterprise Fund should be realized by the start of Fall 2022. Eligible projects should demonstrate:

    Clearly defined professional development impact for the applicant/team. Consider and articulate how the project advances the personal, professional goals of the lead applicant and, more generally, other team members involved.

    Social impact of the project; this can be framed around the U-M campus, another community or set of communities, and/or the applicant’s field of study. We follow a common understanding of social impact as “A significant, positive change that addresses a pressing social challenge.” Applications should address the specific issues, challenges, or problems this project addresses, the ways in which the project is oriented around specific social values and, where applicable, the degree to which the creative content of the project itself is informed by those goals. See these links for additional information on the complexities and implications of social impact from Americans for the Arts, “What is Social Impact?” Michigan Ross, and the Edward Ginsberg Center.

    Costs beyond the typical and ordinary costs of a curricular activity. For example, we will not award funding for basic costs of a senior recital or performance (e.g. the fee for a collaborative pianist, instrument or parts rental, recording/documentation costs, reception food, etc.) and typically do not award funding for the purposes of compensating U-M students involved in such activities. Costs that go beyond the typical and ordinary expenses of a curricular project, enhance it in a significant way with regard to professional and/or social impact may be considered. For example, costs associated with taking a senior recital on tour, collaborating with an external organization to host a special research presentation, or engaging other collaborators or resources to broaden the scope and impact of a project might be considered.

    Projects are expected to be student-led.

    Note on SMTD Facility Usage: EXCEL cannot guarantee space availability in U-M facilities, and all students who intend to use such facilities for an EXCEL-funded project must request space usage according to SMTD scheduling guidelines. We strongly recommend applicants do so prior to submitting an EXCEL funding application. Proposals that clearly show the applicant has already successfully reserved space according to SMTD guidelines, verified by written endorsement/support from appropriate SMTD faculty/staff, will see their funding requests more strongly considered. All requests for SMTD instrument usage must be approved by the appropriate faculty supervisors.

    Note on streaming: SMTD has a do-it-yourself live streaming system available to SMTD students, faculty, and staff. This system uses automated video encoders located in the Moore Building and Stamps Auditorium. Visit the SMTD Live Stream site to learn more, including how to access and reserve streaming kits.

Applications should be submitted through our online portal as ONE PDF. Please combine all your required documents into ONE PDF prior to submission.

Grant Narrative

Please address the criteria listed above in a 500-word (2-page) document (PDF format ONLY)

Project Budget – You must use the EXCEL Budget Spreadsheet

  • Follow the directions on the EXCEL Budget Spreadsheet
  • List all expenses and indicate those that this Enterprise Funds micro grant will cover
  • Include secured funding from other sources and other projected revenue streams

Supporting Materials – at minimum, a recommendation letter from a faculty member which directly addresses the project is required for full consideration. You may attach up to two additional documents or links that help demonstrate the merit of your project (i.e. drawings, videos, advertisements, etc.). Faculty recommenders may submit their recommendation letter through our online form  if they do not want to send those materials to the student applicants for submission.


Breathe with the Wind: A sound installation project that culminated in two public performances at the Thurston Nature Center (Akari Komura, MM Composition 21’)

HOME, A Filmed Cabaret: a 10 song cabaret centered on questions about the meaning of home from the perspective of BIPOC students. (Kaitlyn Tom, BTA 22’)

Gossip Girl the Musical: An original musical written and produced by musical theatre students. (Ethan Hardy Benson, BFA Musical Theatre 22’)

Interior Castle- the dance: A two day dance production exploring the seven dwelling places of the soul through movement and sound. (Melissa Brading, MFA 21’)

Northern Michigan Classical Voice Project: A community engagement project which took SMTD students to Alpena, MI for a day of activities including coachings and a school-wide assembly. (Elise Eden, MM Voice ‘19)

Uncovering the Negro Melodies of America: An educational and collaborative performance that highlighted the music of black composer Samuel Coleridge-Taylor’s collection of Twenty-Four Negro Melodies. (Leah Claiborne, DMA Piano Pedagogy 18’)

MFA Research on Jazz Fun/Street Dance: A research-based project exploring Jazz Funk and Street Jazz styles and their aesthetic influences from other dance forms. (Lenard Foust, MFA Dance 19’)

Third Place Concert Series: A concert series hosted in unique venues around Ann Arbor that works to give unique, high quality, interdisciplinary performances. (Wesley Hornpetrie, MM Cello 18’)

Ann Arbor Guitar Trio Ypsilanti Factory Project: A commissioning project from the Ann Arbor Guitar Trio about the history of the Ypsilanti Underwear Factory. (Evan Veasey, BFA Jazz and Contemporary Improvisation 18’)

Revolt. She said. Revolt again​. Play Performance: An experimental play formed from a series of vignettes depicting interactions that women go through in their public lives and in their personal relationships. (Bruna D’Avila, BFA Directing 19’)

Inhuman​: A Short Film: A film which centers on a plus-size woman and her true identity. Hayley Tibbenham, BMA Voice 20’ )

“Cartographies of Collaborative Creativity: Modelling Cross-Stylistic Collaboration
Networks in Contemporary Neo-Authoritarian Brazil”: A research about the network dynamics of collaborative creativity in contemporary Brazil. (James McNally, PhD Musicology 19’)

Crowns: a Gospel Musical: A musical which explores racial identity through the coming-of-age story of an African American girl whose life is impacted by street violence. (Vincent Ford, BFA Musical Theater 20’)

Strength & Sensitivity: Percussion, Poetry, Empowerment: A multimedia concert featuring percussion music, poetry readings, and audience-interactive, community-building activities to inspire dialogue on themes of gender dynamics, intersectional feminism, and empathy. (Colleen Bernstein, MM Percussion 19’)

Three Truths Album: A recording of a new a 35-minute, three-movement piano composition. (Jacob Rogers, BM Percussion 19’)