Student Project Fund

Case Western Reserve University students working on a robotics project at think[box]

Are you a student looking for financial support to get your project or business idea off the ground? Consider applying to the Student Project Fund at Sears think[box].

Open to undergraduate and graduate students from Case Western Reserve University, the Student Project Fund supports the following: 

  • Individual and team-based extracurricular and personal projects
  • Projects related to a competition
  • Entrepreneurial projects such as those that require prototypes. 

Please note the fund does NOT support course-related projects or projects related to funded research.

Applications to the Student Project Fund are currently closed, but will reopen in August of 2021. Please sign up for our mailing list for updates and reminders. 

Eligibility for the Student Project Fund

To be considered for funding from the Student Project Fund, the applicant must be a full-time CWRU undergraduate student (taking at least 12 credit hours) or a full-time CWRU graduate student (taking at least nine credit hours or one credit hour of thesis).

How Funds are Awarded and Used

Applications to the Student 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 the proposed project must be technically feasible with realistic deliverables achievable before the reporting deadlines detailed on this page. 

The maximum amount of funding available per project is $2,500 to cover costs such as resources for materials, equipment, manufacturing costs and other related experiences. Funds may be used to pay for external prototyping or machining services when the work cannot be performed at Sears think[box]. 

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

  • Food, drinks or entertainment
  • Stipends for project team members or others
  • Fees for contractors or consultants
  • Marketing materials, prizes or giveaways
  • Travel or travel-related expenses
  • Expenses that do not appear on an approved budget 

Review Committee

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

  • Ian Charnas, think[box] Director of Innovation and Technology
  • Jason Bradshaw, think[box] Director of Design and Manufacturing
  • Raymond Krajci, think[box] Operations Engineer 
  • Mandeep Bansal, think[box] Manufacturing Specialist 

Review Criteria

The review committee for the Student 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 Student Project Fund at Sears think[box] provides a valuable learning and life-skills opportunity 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 are expected to keep accurate financial records and a summary of transactions, and must scan receipts to include in your project’s interim and final reports. Please be aware that monetary awards of $600 or more are taxable and, if you receive an award higher than this amount, you will be issued a Form 1099 at the end of the calendar year. Please consult a tax professional if you have questions.    

Reporting Requirements

If you’ve received financial support from the fund, you must submit an interim and final report by the dates enumerated in the Student Project Fund Agreement.

  • You must submit an interim report by Feb. 1 or by your graduation date, whichever comes first. The interim report must include: 
    • A description of your project goals and progress to date
    • Photos, drawings, and/or renderings of your work
    • A spreadsheet showing a summary of project expenses to date
    • Scans of all receipts indicated on the spreadsheet
  • You must submit a final report by May 1 or by your graduation date, whichever comes first. The final report must include:
    • A description of the completed project
    • Photos, drawings, and/or renderings of the final project
    • Results from any competition(s) or presentations
    • 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 Student Project Fund, you will be required to sign an agreement indicating acceptance of the terms outlined for the Student Project Fund before you receive the award. 

At that point, you will receive payment of 50% of the total award value, with payment for the remaining 50% of the total award to be issued after you’ve completed your interim reporting requirements. When the final report is due, you must contact our department administrator, Ruth D’Emilia, to arrange the return of unspent or undocumented funds to Sears think[box].