Doerr Leader Development Innovation Awards

Program Update

Due to COVID-19 and budgetary impacts, the Doerr Institute is suspending Innovation Awards until further notice. Researchers seeking funding for time-sensitive opportunities should reach out to our team at

Fund information:

The purpose of the Doerr Institute's Leader Development Innovation Awards is to encourage and support faculty contributions to the development of students' capacity to lead across the University, through innovative teaching, curricular innovations, and relevant research.

This is a "by faculty and for faculty" commitment that is intended to spark innovation in developing students as leaders and in creating knowledge that informs leader development.

Proposals to develop technologies to support leader-development processes are appropriate. Awards are not intended for teaching leadership as a topic per se, but for innovation in incorporating leader development in co-curricular fashion in support of existing academic program goals. The maximum award is $60,000. Awards are one-time funds not intended for ongoing project support.


Full-time and research faculty members at Rice and Rice staff members holding a terminal degree are eligible to apply. Proposals may be submitted individually or by a group of faculty. Graduate students in doctoral programs may apply as Principal Investigator with a full time faculty co-PI.

Review process:

The review will be completed by a committee of referees convened by the Faculty Advisory Board of the Doerr Institute, which will be composed of faculty from across the university, with all schools invited to be represented. The committee will typically make funding decisions by the first Friday in August. PIs should recognize that this is a competitive process. Not every project that meets the minimum criteria will be funded.

Selection criteria:

Proposals will be evaluated based on their fulfillment of the following criteria. Criteria 1 and 2 are required. All other criteria may not apply to every proposal, but will be considered when awarding funds. Investigators who have not received funding in the last 12 months (last two review cycles) will receive priority review. The same faculty member may not be listed on more than two proposals in any review cycle.

  1. The contribution the project makes to furthering the university's mission of "cultivating a diverse community of learning and discovery that produces leaders across the spectrum of human endeavor", in light of the Vision for Rice University's Second Century (specifically that "we reexamine the undergraduate curriculum, as well as focus on enhanced research opportunities...and leadership development for our students").
    • Leader development methodology: In your proposal, please explain the steps that you are using to ensure the development of leaders. Our goal is to ensure that a process is in place to increase a leadership competency or skill. For example, an ineffective methodology would simply require students to give a presentation to a group of peers and faculty. A more effective methodology would include reviewing the qualities of effective leader communication, identifying criteria of effective presentations, developing a rubric for faculty and peers to evaluate each student presentation against those criteria, and offering feedback and a chance to improve.
    • Metrics: In order to advocate for a particular methodology to be repeated in a course or program, it is essential that the results be documented. Specifically, measuring the changes that you anticipate that your methodology will produce is essential for this proposal. Less effective measurements might focus on the number of attendees or participants, how much participants enjoyed an event, or whether students completed an activity or task. Instead, using a pre-post test survey to identify attitude or behavioral change or documenting progress along behaviorally anchored rating scales would be more effective methods that also suggest specific areas for improvement.
    • Broad Applicability: In addition to having a powerful and positive impact on the proposal's intended audience, an equally important goal is that a variety of campus organizations and programs can benefit from the innovative approaches. We understand modifications will be necessary to implement across different disciplines. To do this, we ask that the methodology be outlined in such a way that other campus organizations could replicate the leader development initiative. If funded, we ask that the PIs update this outline to create a roadmap for campus partners to implement.
  2. The efficiency with which the project develops students will be considered in awarding funds. Project budgets should minimize spending on food, travel, and promotional items. Instead, dollars should go directly towards development of students whenever possible. For teaching innovations only (not research proposals), clearly articulate:
    • Number of award dollars spent on direct development of Rice students
    • Number of Rice students developed through this initiative
    • Per capita spend rate for this project (award dollars divided by number of Rice students developed)
  3. The degree to which the project might inform or support University aims with respect to diversity
  4. The quality, significance, creativity and potential impact or scaling of the project
  5. The likelihood that the project will lead to outside funding or otherwise could be sustained (please keep in mind that Innovation Awards are not intended for ongoing support of programs or projects)

Reporting Requirements:

The Principal Investigator (PI) is responsible for submitting a final report. The purpose of the report is to create a roadmap for others to follow in research and development. The final report must be submitted within 6 months of the completion of the project.


The report will include, but is not limited to, the following information:

  • Current status of project
  • Statements to certify funds are being used for the requested and intended purpose, as outlined by the funding proposal
  • Statements to certify funds are being used in compliance with Rice University policies and procedures
  • What you learned
  • What you would do differently
  • Your roadmap for how other campus partners could implement this innovative idea in other disciplines


  • In the case of research, the report can be an article.
  • In the case of a teaching innovation, the report can be a white paper (e.g., 3-5 pages, unless more pages are necessary) that describes the process and highlights outcomes.


Final report should be submitted 6 months after project completion.

How to apply:

Proposals are to be submitted as two documents (item 1 and 2 below in one, and item 3 in a separate file). Proposals must include the following documents in PDF format:

  1. A project description (no more than four pages, in 12-point type), including figures. Avoid the inclusion of any identifying information about PIs or co-PIs (names, department affiliations, etc.).
  2. A budget indicating how the requested funds would be expended and listing resources sought or acquired from other sources. Avoid the inclusion of any identifying information about PIs or co-PIs (names, department affiliations, etc.). Rice faculty, staff, and students must be paid fringe rates. Personnel budgets must include fringe.
  3. A curriculum vitae for each applicant in separate pdf file.