Community Project Fund

Are you a member of the Northeast Ohio community who has an idea for a project? Consider applying to the Community Project Fund at Sears think[box] to gain financial backing. 

Please note: The community project fund supports Northeast Ohio residents. Student and faculty projects at Case Western Reserve University are not eligible.

The Community Project Fund has been allocated and we are no longer accepting applications. We will make an announcement when the fund is accepting applications again. Please sign up for our mailing list for updates and reminders. 

How Funds are Awarded and Used

Applications to the Community Project Fund at Sears think[box] are considered until the application deadline or until the yearly budget is exhausted, whichever comes first. To receive an award, the scope of your project must be technically feasible with realistic deliverables achievable before the reporting deadlines we establish. 

The maximum amount of funding available per project is $1,000 to cover costs such as resources for materials, equipment, manufacturing costs and other related experiences.

Please note funding will NOT be awarded to support any of the following:

  • Food, drinks, or entertainment
  • Stipends for project team members or other individuals
  • Fees for contractors or consultants
  • Marketing materials, prizes or giveaways

Review Committee

Applications to the Community Project Fund are reviewed and approved by a committee of staff members from Sears think[box], as are final reports for approved projects. The committee also determines the amounts awarded. Members of the review committee are: 

  • Ainsley Buckner, Prototype Engineering Manager
  • Ruth D'Emilia, Department Administrator
  • Mandeep Bansal, Design and Manufacturing Engineer
  • Richard Graham, Coordinator

Review Criteria

The review committee for the Community Project Fund considers all proposals and notifies applicants by email as to the status of their application(s). Proposals are considered based on the following criteria:

  • SMART Goals: Have you or your team selected goals for your project that are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound?
  • Technical Feasibility: Can you or your team realistically reach the goals you set out given your existing skill set(s)?
  • Monetary Feasibility: Is the requested funding appropriate for your project goals?
  • Innovation/Functionality/Creativity: Does the project involve a creative aspect, a technically challenging or educational aspect, or a new idea or process? We’re looking for projects that will help you develop your professional and technical skill sets.  

Fund Administration

Receiving a financial award from the Community Project Fund at Sears think[box] provides a valuable learning and life-skills opportunity for Northeast Ohio residents to develop and experience a number of critical professional practices. These include project planning and management, budget ownership and management, fiscal responsibility and professional reporting. 

If you are awarded funds, you are fully responsible for their use and management. You will be expected to keep accurate financial records and a summary of transactions, and must scan receipts to include in your final report.

Reporting Requirements

If you’ve received financial support from the Community Project Fund, you must submit a final report within three months after submitting your signed agreement. Final reports must include:

  • A description of your project goals and progress to date
  • Photos, drawings, and/or renderings
  • A spreadsheet showing a summary of project expenses
  • Scans of all receipts indicated on the spreadsheet

Fund Disbursement

If you are selected to receive support from the Community Project Fund, you will receive your funds in one of two ways: 

  • Reimbursements: Itemized receipts must be submitted with the final report in order to be reimbursed. Receipts showing only the total purchase amount cannot be accepted. Eligible purchases will be reimbursed up to the amount of the award. Project materials purchased in the past six months may be reimbursed as long as they appear on the application and final report spreadsheets, an itemized receipt is provided in the final report, and the cost of the item(s) does not exceed 25% of total project expenditures.
  • Sears think[box] Accounts: Funds may be placed into an account with Sears think[box]. Please note that funds placed in an account may only be used for material purchases at Sears think[box].