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Application Guidelines

Application Guidelines

Application Steps:

1. Submit a Letter of Intent (LOI) - Due November 4, 2022, 4:00 PM
2. Submit a Full Application - Due November 29, 2022, 4:00 PM

Update 11-4-22: An LOI is NOT required to submit a full application.


The Dow Distinguished Awards Competition is open to U-M Ann Arbor campus graduate-level student teams. The Awards Competition is intended to engage the broader U-M community and is open to students NOT participating in the Dow Fellows Program, including student nominees and Fellows alumni. Proposals must include a project plan and a budget developed in partnership with a project partner external to U-M and U-M Faculty Advisor.

All project teams must:

  • Be led by U-M Ann Arbor campus graduate student teams but may also include external stakeholders and consultants.
  • Plan for substantive contributions from students in at least three different schools/colleges (dual-degree students may represent two different schools/colleges), with each team comprised of 4-5 students (no team may include more than five students).
  • Identify and confirm a project partner with a specific sustainability challenge related to climate or circular economy that can work with the team throughout the duration of the project.
  • Identify and confirm a U-M, Ann Arbor Faculty Advisor that can work with the team throughout the duration of the project.
  • Develop a project plan (scope of work), project budget, timeline, and summary of a needs assessment.
  • Participate in Dow Fellows Program activities (e.g. seminars), provide draft and final reports, and deliver presentations and other materials to summarize project work, results, and impacts.
  • Address the extent to which participation in the team project will be a transformative learning experience for team members interested in sustainability leadership.
  • Define how diversity, equity, and inclusion will be integrated into your project.

Client/Project Sponsor: All teams must identify and confirm a client external to U-M (e.g., a non-profit organization, a community, or a business/corporation). We encourage teams to consider clients focusing on underserved communities or stakeholders and project efforts with the potential for regional, national, or global impact.

Supporting sustainability scholars, the Dow Sustainability Fellows Program is aligned with U-M's commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion. Program efforts focus on ensuring that each student thrives. Scholars learn that diversity is key to empowerment and the advancement of sustainability knowledge, learning, and leadership at U-M and worldwide.

Project Proposal Outline

Narrative: Maximum of five pages (8.5 x 11, single-spaced, minimum of 11 point type size), including the following:

  1. Project Background (maximum 450 words).
  2. Project Scope (maximum 1,200 words). Highlight engagement activities and how project success will be measured (e.g., specific carbon reduction metrics, or new circular economy process applied) and over what time frame.
  3. Planned Deliverables (maximum 450 words). 
  4. Communication Plan (maximum 350 words)
  5. How will your project address the intersection of diversity, equity, and inclusion, and Sustainability/Climate/Circularity? (maximum 250 words)
  6. Budget and Expenditures: Submit a 1-page spreadsheet (using the template provided on the application page) with separate line item expenses (item, description, cost) with a total budget, not to exceed $40,000. Project teams may receive up to $40,000.

Additional information required in the proposal:

  • References and Appendices (maximum of 6 pages, not counting the narrative above).
  • Resume for each team member, a maximum of 2-pages (not counting the narrative above): After the references and appendices outline the relevant experience and skills of each team member. 

Award Review and Selection Process

Selected teams will provide a short presentation to a review committee comprised of U-M faculty, alumni, staff, and external practitioners from business, government, and the community at the annual Dow Fellows Symposium.

Project Selection Criteria

  • A clear outline of the potential for significant societal benefits and overall impact related to climate change and circular economy (at the regional, local or global level).
  • A well-crafted project plan, with convincing methods for engaging project stakeholders, integrates important issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion, and is supported by data or analysis that indicate a strong likelihood of success.
  • Prominently feature interdisciplinary work and how the project team requires, engages, and represents a minimum of three (3) disciplines.


  • One or two project teams are selected annually to receive up to a $40,000 award but the total amount could vary between $20,000 - $40, 000 depending on the project, the review committee ranking, and other factors.
  • Total Distinguished Awards Competition funds will not exceed $60,000 annually.

Team Leader & Faculty Advisors:

Faculty Advisors and Team Leaders must review, sign, and return a copy of the Award Terms and Conditions Form to the Graham Institute, administering the Dow Distinguished Awards Competition. The form will be distributed to teams that receive awards. The form provides guidelines and requirements, and when to contact the Dow Fellows Program. 

Also see: Distinguished Award Guidelines