Ignition Fund awards are judged in two rounds: submission of an online proposal and an oral presentation. Applicants are selected for the oral presentation based on committee review of the online proposal.

2015-2016 Application Deadlines: 

  • Fall: October 5, 2015 
  • Spring: April 11, 2016


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The application process will focus on the problem you are solving for a market/audience, your approach to solving that pain point, and how you will use your funding.   To complete your application, you will need the following information: 

Idea Description and Project Proposal

Provide an overview of your idea and detail your plans for carrying it out. Appendices and supporting materials such as recordings, manuscripts, market research, etc. will be accepted but are not required.

Please use the following questions and prompts to guide you as you develop your summary.

About Your Idea

  • What is your idea?
  • Who are the intended beneficiaries or customers? Why do they need what you are providing?
  • Position your idea. What differentiates you? That is, what are you providing to your target market that nobody else is?
  • What drew you to this issue? Why are your driven to develop your idea? What skills, experience, and insights do you bring? If you have already begun working on your idea, describe what you have done so far.
  • If you are applying as a team, give an example of how you have worked together successfully in the past. If you have not worked together previously, explain why you feel that your team will be effective in carrying out this project.

About Your Project

  • Describe your proposed project. How will it help you to develop your idea? What are your goals? What exactly will you do? Outline the approximate timeline, expected location(s), and projected outcome(s) of your activities. Be sure you are clear about how the Creativity Fund award would support your project.
  • Explain what happens next. How will your experience carrying out this project inform your overall vision for your entrepreneurial venture?


Please provide a summary of the expenses associated with your activities and expected revenue from other sources (if any). Please note the following stipulations on expenditures:

  • Expenditures on acquiring (not renting) capital goods (such as laptops, software, and equipment in general) may not exceed $100.
  • Students may not pay themselves a salary, though they may pay others directly for their services.
  • Award money may not be spent on liquor.
  • Download a sample budget here.


Please provide the name and contact information of two references, one of whom should be an Oberlin College faculty member or administrator familiar with your work as it relates to this project. References should be included for each student working on the project.


Please submit a one-page resume for each student principally involved in the project.

Oral Presentation

Select students who have submitted an online proposal will be invited to give a 5-minute pitch followed by questions from a small panel.

Award Terms and Conditions

1. Award checks will be issued only after submission of original receipts and records of expenditure. If the recipient is uncertain about whether or not an item or service can be reimbursed, the recipient should contact the C&L office (; 440-775-8567) prior to the purchase. Award recipients may submit receipts for reimbursement up to three times during the award period. When the award period ends or the final amount is requested, the recipient must provide a final report, including documentation of all grant expenditures relative to projected expenses. Award recipients may request that C&L pay vendors directly. Recipient must provide adequate documentation to complete the vendor transaction. Recipients should be aware that all transactions (reimbursement and/or vendor payments) take a minimum of 21 days to process.

2. Award recipients cannot pay themselves a salary through the grant, although funds can be used to pay an organization or other individual for services (i.e., website development, transportation, printing). In addition, funding cannot be used to purchase equipment costing over $100 (rental of equipment is allowable) or to buy alcohol.

3. If the project involves research with human subjects, the proposal must be reviewed and approved by the College's Institutional Review Board (IRB). No work on the project may begin until approval has been submitted to the Creativity & Leadership office.

4. Expenditures should be limited to those outlined in the original budget. Award recipients may submit revisions to their original budget for approval. These revisions must be submitted prior to the expenditure and should be accompanied by a brief explanation for the change. Creativity & Leadership reserves the right to rescind any award that was used for purposes not detailed in the original explanation.

5. Funds may not be used for expenditures outside of the award period.

6. Receipts for all grant expenses are due two weeks after the award period and should be submitted to the C&L office with a written report and final budget. Once the award period has ended, any and all unexpended funds will be returned to the Ignition Fund to support future student projects.

7. Award recipients are required to submit a 100-word project description, a digital publicity photo, and a short biography (not to exceed 100 words) for each team member by the same date as award acceptance deadline.