J-WEL Grants in Higher Education Innovation 2021 | MIT J-WEL

J-WEL Grants in Higher Education Innovation 2021

Call for Proposals

The 2021 J-WEL Grants in Higher Education Innovation cycle is now closed. Thank you to all who applied. We invite MIT faculty to submit proposals when our 2022 Call for Proposals opens.

J-WEL Grants in Higher Education Innovation

J-WEL Grants in Higher Education Innovation aim to promote global transformation of higher education around key areas of activity of J-WEL. We aim to achieve this by enabling MIT faculty, staff, and students to engage in projects to reimagine teaching and learning in higher education.

We are particularly interested in innovations rooted in MIT’s research and practice with the potential for generating high-impact on higher education globally. We encourage collaboration with international partners and invite participants to engage with the J-WEL international community. We provide seed funding to explore research areas and program development activities or to scale up existing programs to achieve global impact.

Since May 2017, J-WEL Grants in Higher Education Innovation have awarded over one million dollars to J-WEL grantees.

Call for Proposals 2021

We are pleased to invite proposals from MIT faculty, staff and students. Proposals are due February 5, 2021. See "Proposal Preparation and Submission" further down the page for more information. 

This year we are specifically interested in the following topics:

  • Considering equity, especially in online contexts. Examples include projects aiming to create platforms or products addressing the needs of marginalized and underrepresented learning communities, projects using technology to reduce the learning gap for underdeveloped communities, and projects aiming to increase access to learning for underserved populations in their native language.
  • Adaptation of evidence-based pedagogies to novel or global contexts.
  • Development of new assessment and evaluation strategies especially for online and hybrid learning.
  • Effective blending of synchronous and asynchronous learning opportunities
  • Creating and Implementing workshops and training related to teaching and learning.
  • Research related to digital credentials, competencies and human skills in higher education.
  • Implementation and research of interdisciplinary curriculum, related (but not limit) to: Engineering education, computational thinking and topics related to key global challenges. 
  • Creating communities of practice around excellence in teaching and learning.
  • Reimagining the future of teaching and learning post COVID-19.

We encourage proposals that contribute to student success: promoting confident, entrepreneurial problem-solvers, with broad multidisciplinary education, tools to define a career, communication skills and a growth mindset.


Proposals can be submitted for one out of two tracks:
Level 1: Seed grants ($10,000-$30,000). We anticipate to fund 3-5 grants this cycle. The goal is to fund exploratory work at the early stages.
Level 2 (New this year): For projects beyond the early-stage exploration ($30,000-$80,000). We anticipate to fund (0-2) grants this cycle. Proposals for this level are expected to have a substantial research, assessment, or scaling up effort explained in greater detail beyond what is expected for level 1 projects.

Any remaining funds after this call will be dedicated to smaller express grants to be reviewed 2-3 times a year following this call's deadline.

Funding is provided to support all aspects of the project including, but not limited to, content creation, tool development and personnel (graduate, undergraduates, postdocs, researchers or lecturers). Funding can also be used to cover travel costs, accommodation, media production and some equipment necessary for the project. 

Review Process

Proposals are reviewed and discussed by the J-WEL Higher Education Advisory Committee and selected based on specified criteria and available funding. 

When evaluating proposals, strong emphasis will be given to innovation in education and experimenting with new ideas and approaches. Ideas with a well-framed global applicability will be given strong consideration. Proposals need to outline a clear plan for execution, and when relevant, discuss feasibility and sustainability. Proposals should include a discussion of assessments for success and impact of the proposed project.


    • The proposal must be overseen and submitted by one or more MIT faculty members or Principle Investigators (PIs).
    • The lead PI(s) will participate in and present at J-WEL events, including a yearly meeting for all grantees.
    • For Level 2 projects, the lead PI(s) will submit a report that summarizes specific results on student learning and other findings, including results of their defined project metrics, within two months of the project end date. For Level 1 projects, a detailed report is not required (but welcome) and reporting through participation in J-WEL events and webinars is sufficient.
    • The lead faculty member(s) should participate(s) throughout the project; however, development and teaching may also involve students, postdocs, and others.
    • A letter of support from the department head (or unit) must accompany the proposal.

    Proposal Preparation and Submission

    1. Proposals need to be filled and submitted through this link.
    2. You will need to include a budget using this Budget template.
    3. You will need to include a letter of support from your department head


    Additional resources


    Meetings with J-WEL staff are available and encouraged to help you explore the suitability of your proposal topic. Please contact jwel-he-grant-program AT mit.edu to request a meeting or phone conversation.


    Key Dates

    • December 2, 2020: Call for Proposals released

    • February 5, 2021: Submissions due

    • March 2021: Decisions released


    Contact us at: JWEL-HE-Grant-Program-at-mit.edu