Your Fearless Idea will change the world

Your idea should address vital problems, questions, or needs of society. The project you propose should involve important service, leadership, intellectual, or social entrepreneurial goals. Projects may be local, national, or international in scope and impact. Projects should involve substantial work away from the Maryland campus, in surrounding communities, across the nation, or around the world.

Eligibility: The program is open to current first, second, and third year students in all majors who are enrolled full time at the University of Maryland, College Park, are in good standing with regard to UMD student conduct policies, and meet the following academic criteria at the time of application:

    • Freshmen (at least 1 completed semester): Cumulative GPA of 3.5 or higher
    • Sophomores (at least 3 completed semesters): Cumulative GPA of 3.6 or higher
    • Juniors (at least 5 competed semesters): Cumulative GPA of 3.7 or higher

Projects may involve teams, but proposals must be submitted by no more than two (2) co-leaders.

Project Length: Projects must begin no later than September 2, 2014 and may be 3 to 12 months long.

Funding Amount:Up to $6,000 will be awarded to each project.

Project Advisor: Projects must have the support of a University of Maryland faculty or staff member qualified to provide guidance for the student’s project. Students proposing projects requiring substantial time away from the Maryland campus should also identify a secondary qualified advisor who can provide advice locally.

Program Preferences: Preference will be given to projects that:

      • Show promise or evidence of having a substantial impact
      • Have a well-defined goal or outcome
      • Do not consist solely or mostly of an internship experience
      • Propose unique or distinctive experiences that would be otherwise difficult to carry out
      • Do not involve travel to nations/regions under State Department travel warnings or alerts

Number of Awards: Up to 10 grants will be made annually.

Deadline to Apply: April 9, 2014

Application Requirements:
The following materials should be prepared and submitted by the student applicant by email attachment to

    • A 2-page project proposal (single-spaced). For more on suggested proposal outlines please see the advice here --»

    • An unofficial University of Maryland transcript. Please submit a scanned copy by email. If you are a transfer student, please submit a scanned copy of your previous institution transcript (official or unofficial).

    • A budget no more than one page in length discussing in reasonable detail the principal expenses of the project.

    • A complete resume (may be longer than one page) listing all significant academic and extracurricular experiences.

    • Two (2) letters of recommendation submitted directly to the NSO at - one from the UMD project mentor and one from a supporting recommender. The letter from the project mentor should discuss a) the significance and feasibility of the proposed project from the mentor’s perspective or with relation to its field, b) the mentor’s estimation of the candidate’s capacity for carrying out the project, and c) a concise plan for mentoring the student during the term of the project. The second supporting letter should address the candidate’s intellectual and personal abilities, and does not need to come from a UMD-affiliated person.
By submitting applications for Maryland Leadership and Discovery Grant students affirm that their proposal is their own work and grant the NSO permission to verify their status with regard to the policies of the Office of Student Conduct. Grantees are responsible for making their own project arrangements. Grantees accept full responsibility for these arrangements and for their own conduct and safety during the grant period. Grantees will be required to sign a form releasing the University from responsibility for property damage, personal injury, accidents, illness, death, or other harm that might occur as a result of their project. Grantees will be expected to provide evidence of adequate medical insurance for the period of the award. If a project involves travel, that coverage must include a specific provision for evacuation to an appropriate location for medical treatment, if necessary. Projects must be feasible within applicable University rules, policies, and procedures. Grantees are fully subject to the University of Maryland Policy on Intellectual Property.

Selection Criteria:
Grants will be made to exceptional projects that address vital problems, questions, or needs of society in dynamic and impactful ways. Recipients of Maryland Leadership and Discovery Grants will demonstrate:
     a. Exceptional ability and qualifications to pursue their proposed projects;
     b. Resourcefulness and skills necessary to plan and carry out a feasible project within the period allowed; and
     c. Strong motivation to complete a project of great personal, intellectual, and/or professional significance.

Please write to with any questions you may have – indicate that you are inquiring about the Maryland Leadership and Discovery Grant program.