Learn. Explore. Act. Prepare.
LEAP Grants support MIT students’ public service through funding that can help you carry out a service project such as a volunteer day or philanthropy event. These grants can also help you learn about service and social responsibility or build your skills to tackle a community challenge.
LEAP Grants are not intended to provide comprehensive support. They typically cover one type of expense such as materials, transportation, or conference registrations. LEAP grants may also cover a combination of expenses at a modest level.
LEAP Grants are only available for MIT student service work in the United States.
Who can apply
LEAP grants are for:
- Full-time, continuing MIT students from all departments and programs, undergraduate and graduate
- Exchange students who are registered as MIT students for at least a semester (for instance, visiting CME students) and who will be at MIT for at least a month after the funded activity takes place
- Individuals or groups
We are not able to fund
The winter and spring deadlines are the following dates at noon:
- December 5
- January 9
- February 6
- March 6
- April 3
- May 1
We will not review applications between these deadlines.
There is also a required minimum lead-time between these deadlines and when you intend to use the funds:
- Two weeks in advance for requests other than out-of-state travel
- Four weeks in advance for out-of-state travel
What do we support?
LEAP stands for learn, explore, act, and prepare. These grants help students to do service work and to build their skills and knowledge to be effective at service work.
LEAP grants can be used for these types of expense:
For example: supplies for an after-school K-12 education project, printing materials for a community workshop, or prototyping supplies for a technology-based project
For example: registration fees to attend service-focused conferences, workshops, and trainings
For example: MIT student-run philanthropy events such as galas and fundraising runs, wrap-up events for MIT student-run programs or classes bringing together students and community members, or bringing a service-focused speaker to campus. Please note, we do not cover fees to take part in philanthropy events such as registering for a run or attending a gala dinner.
For example: MBTA fees for your student group to do a local volunteer day, ground transportation expenses for a weekly service commitment, out-of-state travel to enable you to get to summer, IAP, or spring break service placements. Note that we cover travel expenses for MIT students only. LEAP Grants may not be used for accommodation expenses.
Please note, LEAP grants are not full-funding packages. If you need travel and living expenses for a substantial service project, check our Fellowships program.
How much should I ask for?
LEAP Grants are typically between $50 and $750, depending on the nature of the service project. The following restrictions apply:
- Out-of-state travel grants are capped at $750 per person
- Conference, workshop, and training fees are capped at $500 per person
- For student service groups, grants for out-of-state travel and conferences are limited to two members for a particular event or activity, and one is generally preferable.
If your costs are modest, you may receive full funding from a LEAP Grant. However, in many cases a LEAP Grant only provides partial or seed funding. For larger requests, preference will be given to applicants who are pursuing multiple funding sources.
We have a new application system!
Read the guidelines below so you know what to prepare, then click the Access Application Site link below to begin your application.
Summarize your application in one paragraph.
Describe the community you are serving, your plan, and how you will achieve it.
- Community needs
Tell us what community you are serving or what community challenges or resources you intend to learn about.
Give us the details.
- How do you plan to serve the community or learn what you need to know?
- What preparation have you done or are planning to do? What connections do you have in the community?
- If you are running an event or workshop on campus, what offices are you working with to ensure that you are complying with MIT policies? (If you need help figuring this out, tell us this and we’ll try and point you in the right direction).
- We are looking for plans and timelines that are thoughtful and realistic.
Describe the intended outcomes of the project for the community and for the MIT students involved. How will you measure your success?
Explain what you bring to the project in terms of knowledge, skills, experience, etc. If you need help from PKG Center staff in planning or implementing your project, let us know.
For conference, workshop, or training expenses only:
- Explain what you plan to learn, whom you hope to meet, and how this will enhance your future service work.
- If you are attending as a representative of a student service group, explain how you will share what you learn with the group.
- Preference will be given to applications that make a clear link between the learning opportunities and a planned or ongoing service activity.
Safety and Cultural Impact Statement
Outline your safety considerations for the project. If you are planning a project in a relatively high-risk location, you will need a particularly strong safety plan and work plan.
- What are the main safety issues in the location where you will be working?
- What steps will you take to prioritize your safety there and what resources have you identified to help you stay safe?
- Does the project work itself pose any hazard to you? For instance, will you be using power tools or hazardous substances?
- What steps will you take to mitigate these hazards?
- Does your project have any safety implications for the community you are serving? How will you address these?
Help us to understand how the cultural and social context will affect your project and how you can prepare for this. If you are working in your hometown or here in Cambridge, you may still be dealing with communities that are unfamiliar to you. Keep in mind that grappling with social justice issues in a familiar community can be uncomfortable.
- What cultural or social issues do you anticipate affecting this project?
- How might you prepare yourself for working in this particular context?
Be clear about your project costs and what you want the LEAP grant to fund.
- Create a chart that tells us your anticipated expenses and how you calculated them (e.g., item expense times number of items)
- Indicate which items you hope to fund with the LEAP grant. Remember, these grants may only be used for the following expense types:
- Conferences, workshops, and trainings
- Travel (not including accommodation)
- Include shipping costs and applicable taxes. MIT is tax exempt in many circumstances.
- List anticipated and secured funding sources
- If you are requesting funds for a philanthropy event, include a realistic estimate of how much the event will raise. The grant you are requesting should be for significantly less than the amount you intend to raise through the event.
If your costs are modest, you may receive full funding from a LEAP Grant. However, in many cases a LEAP Grant only provides partial or seed funding. For larger requests, preference will be given to applicants who are pursuing multiple funding sources. There are many other funding sources on campus, and some of them are listed here.
If you receive funding from other sources after applying for a LEAP grant, we require that you notify us of this and we may make appropriate modifications in consultation with you.
For out-of-state travel only: letter of commitment from community partner
If you are requesting funds to travel out of state for your service work (other than a conference, workshop, or training), we need someone in the community or organization you will be working with to send an email or letter confirming that your proposed project is a good match for local community needs and that they will support your work and personal wellbeing. This community partner could be a staff member at a formal organization you will be working with, an individual who is working at a more grassroots level to address community challenges, or a personal contact in the community who understands local needs and will help you to explore them.
You’ll be asked to give the name and email address of your community partner. The online system will then email them a request for a letter of commitment for your project. This letter should outline the project idea, describe how you and your community partner plan to work together, and show the community partner's commitment to supporting you with project advice and local knowledge.
Guidelines for Community Partners
Thank you for writing a letter of support for a LEAP grant proposal. LEAP grants are awarded to MIT students to help them carry out a service project or philanthropy event. Please discuss the project with the student who is applying for this grant before committing to supporting their work. Your letter should include the following basic information:
- Student’s name
- Name of the organization or community you represent
- Your position in the organization or community
- Your phone number and email address
- The student’s proposed project and its usefulness to your organization or community
- Ways that you can help the student(s) learn about your organization or community and the issues they are hoping to explore
- Your commitment to supporting the student with project advice and useful local knowledge where appropriate