Mutual Mentoring Micro Grant

Mutual Mentoring Micro Grant

Supporting faculty in developing robust professional networks

Program Description

The Mutual Mentoring program supports faculty at any career stage in developing robust professional networks that include a variety of mentoring partners within and outside the UMass Amherst campus.

Applications for 2022-23 will be made available in February 2022.

“Mutual Mentoring” distinguishes itself from the traditional 'top-down' model of mentoring by:

  • Encouraging the development of non-hierarchical, collaborative networks where each person provides specific areas of knowledge and experience.
  • Forming network relationships that benefit both the person traditionally known as the “protégé” as well as the person traditionally known as the “mentor.”

Priority Mentoring Areas

According to focus group and survey data from UMass Amherst faculty, there are numerous challenges to professional success and well-being, the majority of which fall into six key categories that closely parallel the challenges identified in the literature of faculty development at large. These challenges have been designated as “Priority Mentoring Areas” at UMass Amherst.

  • Getting to Know the Institution: Understanding the academic culture of departments, schools/colleagues, and the institution; identifying resources to support research and teaching; and creating a trusted network of junior and senior colleagues.
  • Understanding Promotion and Tenure: Better understanding of the tenure and promotion processes — both for promotion to associate and promotion to full professor ranks — learning more about the criteria for evaluating research and teaching performance, finding support in developing the promotion dossier, soliciting feedback on the quality and quantity of work through the annual faculty review.
  • Developing a Support Network: Forging career-enhancing relationships with faculty (at UMass or outside the institution) who share similar interests, challenges, and/or opportunities. Networks designed to support underrepresented faculty, mid-career faculty, and faculty interested in future leadership roles are particularly encouraged.
  • Excelling at Research: Developing a research/writing plan, identifying sources of internal and external funding, soliciting feedback on manuscripts and grant proposals, setting up and running a successful laboratory, or identifying outside scholars who could be external reviewers.
  • Excelling at Teaching: Finding support for teaching, such as developing new courses, pedagogical methods, technologies, interdisciplinary curricula, or supporting the learning of all students.
  • Establishing Work-Life Strategies: Prioritizing and/or balancing teaching, research, and service; establishing short-term and long-term goals; finding a time management system that works for you; attending to quality of life issues such as dual careers, childcare, and affordable housing.

Examples of Micro Grant Projects Supported

  1. Off-campus meetings to visit a mentor to discuss a new research area or teaching method.
  2. Remote consulting/coaching on a particular professional development area.
  3. Travel expenses to co-present with a mentoring partner(s) and/or meet new or existing mentoring partner(s) at a professional conference.
  4. Modest honoraria to bring a mentoring partner to UMass Amherst for in-person mentoring and/or a public event, such as a departmental workshop or talk.
  5. Editing services from a writing coach or an editor to proofread, fine tune, or edit a scholarly manuscript for submission.

*Note: Examples of activities during the pandemic:  In addition to the standard priority areas and examples, we invite proposals that creatively address pandemic related challenges to your career progression.  

  1. Activities that address issues related to restarting research after a period of disruption
  2. Support for remote teaching best practices
  3. Working with a remote writing coach
  4. Hosting a speaker to present and consult virtually in your area of work for an honorarium 
  5. Remote activities for professional network building 
  6. Funding towards participation in a National Center for Faculty Development and Diversity program
  7. Focusing on mentoring for research support such as remote methodology consultation  
  8. Other strategies that support your professional development during pandemic 

Award Information

The Micro Grant program provides support of up to $1,500 per award. Applicants will be notified on May 7, 2021 of the status of their application. In addition to a compelling proposal, applicants should provide a clearly justified and detailed budget. Reviewers will be closely examining expense requests during this time of budget constraints and ongoing remote restrictions.  If awarded, applicants will attend a 1-on-1 grant kickoff meeting with Wendy Varner to discuss their mentoring network plans.

Grant Period

Micro Grants will fund activities from June 1, 2021- May 31, 2022. Upon conclusion of the grant year, recipients provide a one-page summary of activities, including mentoring networks, and expenses.


We welcome proposals from tenure-track full-time faculty, full-time faculty on continuing appointments, and full-time librarians on continuing appointments. Micro Grants are available to support networks comprised of up to three individuals (the applicant and up to two on-or off-campus mentoring partners).

We strongly recommend that micro grant applicants attend an information session on preparing a complete proposal and budget submission. Two sessions will be offered during early March.

Evaluation Criteria

  1. Quality of the Mentorship Project
    • Proposal outcomes are detailed and clearly stated and build on the Mutual Mentoring model.
    • Clear alignment between intended outcomes and activities that address one or more of the priority mentoring areas.
  2. Feasibility
    • Proposal activities are well-planned and can realistically be accomplished in the grant period.
    • Budget is reasonable, detailed and, when possible, provides contingencies for both remote or in-person costs to support the goals of the proposal. 
      • *Note:  budget requests should be based upon the current pandemic environment for in-person vs. remote activities.  OFD will meet with awardees to review budget expenses mid-year and consider reallocation if necessary.
  3. Impact
    • Proposal describes how the project will affect the faculty member’s professional goals.