Apply for a Campus Action Project Grant

2016–17 AAUW Campus Action Project (CAP) grants provide 10–12 student-led teams up to $5,000 to challenge the status quo for women leaders on campus and in their communities. AAUW will also cover the conference registration fee for one student representative to attend AAUW’s National Conference for College Women Student Leaders (NCCWSL) in College Park, Maryland from May 31 to June 3, 2017.

Women have heard it all in the workplace.

The 2016-17 CAP grant application period is now closed. Feel free to check out our AAUW LAF Campus Outreach grant for more ways to fund your campus activism.

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Topic Background

Women aren’t new to leadership. But from Capitol Hill to the board room, they are still outnumbered by men in prestigious leadership positions. AAUW’s most recent research report, Barriers and Bias: The Status of Women in Leadership, examines the causes of women’s underrepresentation in leadership roles in business, politics, and education, and suggests what we can do to change the status quo.

What Is the Gender Leadership Gap?

In short, women are much less likely than men to be in leadership positions in almost every field. That number is even worse for women of color.

Why Is There a Gap?

Qualified women who can fill leadership roles are everywhere. But blatant sex discrimination isn’t the only barrier holding women back. Hostile work environments, negative stereotypes about women in leadership, and bias also keep women out of the top spots. One key obstacle to women’s leadership is unconscious or implicit bias, which can cloud judgment in ways people are not fully aware of.

Why Should We Care?

Having gender equality at the top benefits everyone. It’s good for both men and women to shift stereotypical ideas around gender roles. It’s good for families, whether they rely on women as the sole breadwinners or share a two-earner income. It’s good for businesses to draw on the creativity of a diverse staff and recognize the purchasing power of women. It’s good for the country because the more diverse the pool, the more talented our leaders will be.

What Can I Do to Close It?

The leadership gender gap is persistent and pervasive but solvable. We can take many steps as individuals, employers, and policy makers to create significant change. Taking action in your community to encourage and empower women leaders is just one way to start changing the status quo.

AAUW CAP Application Components and Instructions

Please read the following application guidelines carefully.

  • Adhere to the specified word limit for each section.
  • The application is an online form. Fill out the application in a Word document beforehand to prevent any changes that may be lost due to poor internet connection.
  • Submit the online CAP application form by 11:59 p.m. PT on Sunday, October 2. Applicants will be notified of the grant award decisions by mid-November.

Section 1 — AAUW CAP Grant Requirements and Expectations

Grantees must fulfill the following requirements.

  • All grant recipients are required to sign a contract and complete additional documentation in order to accept the award. CAP teams receive the first half of the funds in December 2016 after AAUW receives signed contracts.
  • Some colleges and universities require external grant funds to be administered by a central institutional office. Please check with the appropriate office on your campus to learn about your school’s policy before submitting this application.
  • The project activity must take place between November 2016 and May 2017.
  • CAP teams must participate in January and March conference calls with AAUW staff. CAP teams may schedule additional individual calls with AAUW staff throughout the grant cycle.
  • CAP teams are expected to send AAUW staff updates throughout the CAP grant cycle, including photos, projected participation rates, press releases, and media coverage.
  • To receive their second round of grant funds, teams must submit a mid-grant report detailing their progress by March 12, 2017.
  • Teams must submit a final CAP report, final budget, all receipts and promotional materials to AAUW by Sunday, June 18, 2017.
  • Any unspent funds must be returned to AAUW by July 1, 2017.

Section 2 — Your AAUW Campus Action Project Team

  • Applicants must be affiliated with an accredited, degree-granting college or university. Priority consideration is given to teams from AAUW college/university (C/U) partner member institutions or AAUW student organizations.
  • Teams must have at least two students and a project adviser. Additional undergraduate students, graduate students, and faculty or campus professionals are encouraged to join the team. AAUW recommends recruiting as many students as possible to bring in new ideas and share the workload.
  • The project adviser must be a campus faculty member or staff professional who will assume fiscal responsibility for the project.
  • The project student leader and project adviser will be the contact people for award notification, reporting, publicity, and other grant-related activities. We strongly advise listing an additional project adviser who can assume leadership of the project should the primary project adviser be unable to continue.
  • Former AAUW CAP grantees or applicants may apply.

Section 3 — AAUW Liaison

  • Your team must identify an AAUW state or branch representative to serve as a community liaison. This person’s involvement varies and could include attending team meetings, reviewing plans or preliminary reports of project activities, providing AAUW materials for distribution at meetings or events, or assisting with the implementation of the project. Find and contact an AAUW branch near you.
  • If you are having trouble identifying a liaison, e-mail

Section 4 — AAUW CAP Project Description

All projects should be closely related to breaking down barriers and addressing stereotypes and biases associated with women in leadership. Projects should raise awareness about gender leadership gap and encourage women and girls to pursue leadership positions on campus and in their communities.

You may use the following project suggestions to guide your proposals, but don’t let them limit your creativity. Consider collaborating with groups on campus, including relevant student organizations, academic departments, faculty, and student engagement offices to maximize your project’s reach.

  1. Improve the campus climate for women in leadership. Partner with your student government or academic departments in which women are underrepresented to evaluate and improve the climate for women in these fields on your campus. Projects can focus on improving the retention and satisfaction of women in the department or encouraging underclassmen to pursue the field.
  1. Organize a speaker’s series. Fight the perception that only men are leaders by highlighting the many different roles and ways women lead in your community.
  1. Create a visual campaign. Create a video or poster series to highlight why having gender equality at the top benefits everyone. Develop eye-catching visuals or a social media campaign using a hashtag to raise awareness about this existing problem throughout your The creation of an online presence is encouraged whenever possible to increase the reach of the project.
  1. Educate. Organize events on campus that raise awareness about the gender leadership gap. Learn about your own subconscious biases by taking our brief online test.
  1. Form discussion groups. Talk about it! What would you say among a group of college students about the lack of women represented in leadership? How can your campus become more supportive? Develop a project that creates a space for dialogue to change your campus climate.
  1. Begin a mentorship program. When young girls are introduced to empowering women role models, they can picture themselves in leadership roles. Expose young girls from the local community to current women leadership on campus or connect students at your school to older women already in the workforce.

If these suggestions do not fit your campus needs, create an innovative project of your own that addresses the gender leadership gap.

Section 5 — AAUW Campus Action Project Budget

Your application must include an itemized budget of up to $5,000 for the project and a brief budget narrative. AAUW may not fund 100 percent of total program expenses. Funds are available for, but not limited to, the following project-related expense categories.

  • Postage, shipping, or courier service
  • Photocopying or duplicating
  • Office supplies
  • Audiovisual materials
  • Project-related telephone costs
  • Transportation and professional fees or honoraria for speakers
  • Meals, food, or beverages for project-related activities
  • Advertising, publicity, or graphic design expenses
  • Equipment purchases
  • Temporary hourly clerical help
  • Field trips or travel for project participants

Funds cannot be used for

  • AAUW Elect Her or Salary Negotiation workshops
  • Salaries or stipends for anyone on the Campus Action Project team
  • Tuition
  • Higher education scholarships for students or participants
  • Building funds, construction, or renovations
  • Travel expenses for activities not within the scope of the project
  • Overhead or general operating expenses for any organization
  • Personal expenses, shelter, life insurance, or medical/health insurance
  • Previous expenditures, deficits, or loans
  • Creating or providing grants to other organizations
  • Copyright or attorney fees
  • Fundraising activities
  • Conference fees or costs
  • Lobbying or partisan activities
  • Religious purposes

Selection Criteria

CAP proposals will be evaluated according to the following seven criteria.

  1. Project description. The goals, project activities, and anticipated outcomes of the project are thoughtful and stated clearly and demonstrate potential for achievement. The target audience is identified, and the project provides opportunities for leadership development.
  2. Relevance. The project theme and goals are aligned with AAUW’s mission of encouraging and empowering women and girls to pursue leadership positions.
  3. Feasibility. The CAP team is student-driven, strong, and committed to the project. The project timeline is realistic, and the team has the capacity to complete the project within the specified time frame. The desired outcomes and goals are reasonable given the scope of the project.
  4. Diversity and inclusion. The project includes and will reach a diverse group of students. Be intentional about making this project accessible for all students and community members.
  5. Reach. The project has the potential to engage members of the target audiences and the wider community. The project will be actively promoted and shared.
  6. Evaluation. The proposal includes a plan to measure or record outcomes. Specifics regarding reach are desirable.
  7. Budget. The budget request is thorough and closely aligned to project activities. A reasonable and logical justification for each item of the budget is provided. Matching funds and in-kind contributions demonstrate project support (though extra funds are not required).

Special consideration will be given to teams from AAUW college/university partner members or that belong to an AAUW student organization.


Sunday, October 2, 2016
Proposals due by 11:59 p.m. PT. Please submit your proposal using the online CAP application form.

Mid-November, 2016
Applicants notified of award decisions by e-mail.

November–December 2016
Individual CAP teams should meet regularly to plan their projects.

Wednesday, December 9, 2016
Signed contracts due to AAUW by fax or e-mail. After receiving the signed contract, AAUW disburses first half of funds.

January–May 2017
CAP teams carry out projects. Team leaders participate in January and March phone calls with AAUW staff.

March 12, 2017
CAP teams submit mid-grant report. AAUW mails final funds approximately two weeks after receiving the report.

May 31, 2017
All projects must be completed.

May 31–June 3, 2017
At least one student representative from each CAP team attends AAUW’s National Conference for College Women Student Leaders (NCCWSL).

June 18, 2016
CAP teams submit final CAP reports, project evaluations, and marketing materials to AAUW. Final budget and receipts are also due at this time.

July 1, 2017
Any unspent funds must be returned to AAUW.


The 2016-17 CAP grant application period is now closed. Feel free to check out our AAUW LAF Campus Outreach grant for more ways to fund your campus activism

Thank you for your interest in AAUW’s campus leadership programs. If you have questions about AAUW Campus Action Project Grants, contact or 202.785.7737.