FRFAF Microgrants

“Mighty Oaks from little Acorns grow.” — Thomas Fuller, Gnomologia (1732).

The STUDIO administers the Frank-Ratchye Fund for Art @ the Frontier — an endowment to encourage the creation of innovative artworks by the faculty, staff and students of Carnegie Mellon. A special activity of the Frank-Ratchye Fund is its program for Microgrants  grants which are made available to assist projects that require modest support (under $500), and which arise between scheduled cycles for major funding. The FRFAF Microgrant program exists to spur investigations at their earliest and most fragile state, enabling “rapid-response research”.


Applicants seeking funds of up to $500 may submit proposals at any time for a FRFAF Microgrant. Applications are reviewed by the STUDIO Director.

Microgrant proposals must abide by the FRFAF funding criteria and eligibility requirements, and fulfill similar process requirements. Just as with regular FRFAF Grants, applicants to the FRFAF Microgrant program are expected to identify the “frontier” which their work explores, and articulate the ways in which their project represents research into the new or unknown.

Note that Microgrant applicants are required to include a project description, budget, and letter of support from their professor or faculty advisor; see the application form for more details.

Microgrant applicants will be notified of the Director’s decision within one week of submitting the application form. In some cases, the Director may send the proposal back with suggestions for revision. A final report and financial statement must be submitted within one month of the project’s completion. The same reporting and documentation requirements apply as in regular FRFAF Grants.

Recipients are generally limited to one FRFAF Microgrant per academic year. Microgrant recipients are permitted, however, to apply for full FRFAF Grants (subject to committee review) in the same academic year  potentially, even for the same project. In this way, FRFAF Microgrants may be useful in developing an initial prototype, or demonstrating the promise of an untested idea, as a groundwork for seeking further support.

One possible example of an anticipated use for FRFAF Microgrants is the support of class projects taking the form of experimental and/or new-media artworks, wherein the Microgrant allows a student (or student team) to obtain specialized hardware that exceeds the cost of typical course materials. Microgrants are awarded competitively, and only when funds are available. Students seeking a FRFAF Microgrant must secure a letter of support from their advisor or course professor, as in the normal application process. A scenario describing a Microgrant is described in the FRFAF FAQ.