Mutual Mentoring Team Grant

Mutual Mentoring Team Grant

Supporting faculty in developing robust professional networks

Program Description

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

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

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

  • Encouraging the development of non-hierarchical, collaborative networks where each person in the network provides specific areas of knowledge and experience.
  • Forming 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 previous 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 Team Grant Projects Supported

  • Establishing a departmental mentoring program that brings together new, early-career, and/or tenured faculty as mentoring partners around a particular issue.
  • Establishing a cross-department/college mentoring network for mid-career development and mapping a pathway to promotion to full professor.
  • Creating an interdisciplinary mentoring network within a particular school or college.
  • Building a research mentoring roundtable of faculty across the Five College Consortium

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. 

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

Award Information

The Team Grant program provides support of up to $6,000 per award. 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. The team leader will be notified on May 7, 2021 of the status of the application. If awarded, the team leader must attend (and all team members are strongly encouraged to attend) a 1-on-1 grant kickoff meeting with Wendy Varner and provide a draft version of the team ’s “mentor map” for the project; the “mentor map” template will be provided with the grant award letter.

Grant Period

Team Grants will fund activities from June 1 - May 31. Upon conclusion of the grant year, the team leader must provide an updated “mentor map” that reflects the team’s actual grant activities that addressed the mentoring needs, a one-page summary of grant activities, and a budget of grant expenses.


We welcome proposals from tenure-track full-time faculty, full-time faculty on continuing appointments, and full-time librarians on continuing appointments. Team Grants are available to support networks comprised of four of more faculty/librarians (minimum). Team grants may include a mix of types and ranks of faculty/librarians, as long as the majority of the individuals meet the eligibility criteria.   

Under exceptional circumstances, the Selection Committee will award a grant to a team previously funded by the Mutual Mentoring Program. However, priority will be given to teams that have not yet received funding.

Evaluation Criteria

  1. Quality of the Mentorship Project
    • Proposal responds to a compelling mentorship need that differs from mentoring activities normally supported or provided by a department, school/college, or program.
    • Proposal outcomes are detailed, 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.
    • Demonstrated engagement by all core team members in conceptualizing the mentoring project.
  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:   your budget request 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 mutual mentoring project will affect the team members’ professional goals.
    • Proposal describes how the project promotes inclusion and diversity.
    • Proposal describes how participants will draw sustained professional benefits from their experience in their mutual mentoring team grant program.