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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.

Round 1: deadline is October 4, 2019 / notification date: October 18.

Round 2: deadline is November 8, 2019 / notification date: November 22.

Round 3: deadline is January 17, 2020 / notification date: January 31.

Round 4: deadline is March 6, 2020 / notification date: March 20. (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 2020 EXCELerator Fellow could apply for an Enterprise Fund grant for a new or related project in Fall 2020, etc.).

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

Events that occur annually should NOT apply for the EXCEL Enterprise Fund, and rather seek out other funding opportunities through their home department or UM at large.

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 2020. Eligible projects should demonstrate:

  • Clearly defined professional development impact for the applicant/team.
  • Community impact of the project; this can be framed around the U-M campus, another geographic location, and/or the applicant’s field of study.
  • 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 criteria A and B 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.

Submit the following documents prior to the deadlines above through the online portal

Grant Narrative – please address the criteria listed above in a 500-word (2-page) document (Word or PDF format ONLY):

  • List the applicant names (including student ID numbers, departments, and degree programs), including the primary applicant (team leader).
  • Describe your project and expected impact for your community (campus, local, or field of study).
  • Describe the professional development impact of this project on the applicant(s). If this is a group project, describe the professional development benefits and challenges of this collaboration for your team.
  • How do you anticipate carrying out the project? Explain the general timeline and describe team member responsibilities.
  • Do you intend to use University facilities or property as part of this project? If yes, have you secured access to those facilities/property for the full duration of your need? Please provide details and confirmation of the procedure you followed in doing so.

If you are a graduate student eligible for Rackham Graduate funding, indicate why you are applying to the EXCEL Enterprise Fund for this project.

Project Budget – may be attached as Excel spreadsheet or embedded in narrative document:

  • 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 mentor 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.


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’)