Student Proposals for Intellectual Community & Engaged Scholarship (SPICES). A SPICES proposal is an exceptional, new, or creative idea that has not been done before. It addresses a campus/grad student/community need or opportunity, and it is not academic research.


Applications are now closed. Visit Current Initiatives for more about this year's projects.


Adjudicating SPICES proposals

Proposals will be reviewed within the School of Graduate Studies. Proposals that meet the criteria will be invited to participate in an informal interview. Interviewees will be notified within a week or two as to whether their project is funded. 

Informal Interviews

If your proposal meets the SPICES criteria, your team will be invited to discuss your idea informally with a small advisory group who can give you feedback and further adjudicate the proposal.  After the interview, a decision will be made as to whether your project will be funded for SPICES. 


Deadline to submit proposals: Feb 27, 2017

Adjudication period: Feb 27-March 3, 2017

Shortlisted proposals invited for interviews: March 6, 2017

Informal Interviews: March 6-17, 2017

Funded projects Announced: March 20, 2017


Project cycle begins: May 1, 2017

Project cycle ends: April 30, 2018 (all funds must be disbursed)

Activity Report and Budget Narrative due to SGS by: May 31, 2018

*Projects cannot start before May 1, 2016, and must be completed by April 30, 2017. Planning and groundwork can begin prior to May 1, however funds cannot be disbursed or back-dated prior to May 1, 2017. In other words, don’t spend money between the time your project is approved and May 1, 2017.

Questions? Email Andrea Cole at spices@mcmaster.ca or call 905 525-9140 ext. 23437

Who can apply for a SPICES grant?

  • Master's or PhD students registered and in good standing at McMaster
  • Postdoctoral Fellows

*Please carefully review the Guidelines, Criteria, and Exclusions for SPICES before applying.

What is a SPICES project?

  • Something that does not already exist.
  • An original idea – fills a need.
  • Includes team members who identify as part of the community it engages.
  • Involves great people trying to make a difference.
  • Driven by grad students and/or postdocs.
  • Allowed to fail.
  • Inspired by clear vision and leadership.
  • A passion project for those involved.

A SPICES project is not

  • income for individual graduate students;
  • initiated by a department, staff, faculty, or professor;
  • CV- or resume-motivated (resume items will build themselves as a result of vision);
  • a way to fund an already existing group, club, seminar, conference, speaker’s series, or other activity that is already happening or has happened before;
  • academic research.


  1. Each SPICES project will have up to 12 months to deliver one or a series of activities.
  2. The maximum sponsorship awarded to any one project is $3,800.
  3. Awardees are required submit a report by May 31, 2018
  4. All funds are fully accountable. Awardees are required to submit original receipts accounting for the full sum of the award within 30 days of completing their project.
  5. A team member in the role of Treasurer must remain enrolled as a student (or on staff if a postdoc) for the entire duration of the project
  6. Students should have the support of their academic supervisor before undertaking a SPICES-funded project.

Criteria: Is your proposal spicy?

SPICES can approve proposals that best meet a combination of the following elements:

  • Is unique and/or novel in nature (for example, proposals that request funds for graduate student conferences will not be accepted)
  • Creates a new initiative to enhance the experience of a given community/communities
  • Includes collaboration, particularly across academic disciplines, or with off-campus partners beyond the university’s traditional boundaries
  • Considers its governance model and models of community engagement
  • Considers equity and accessibility measures in its approach
  • Advances the mission and vision of McMaster University, in the spirit of Forward with Integrity


Funding will not be provided for:

  • travel or academic conference costs;
  • individual graduate student tuition;
  • research-related costs;
  • cost-of-living expenses;or
  • other forms of personal income.

Awardees must complete an Activity Report and Budget Narrative, due by May 31, 2018.

This information could be used for publication and should be written in plain language suitable for the general public.

1. Activity Report

  1. Project Name
  2. Project email address, website, FB page etc
  3. Team Members (Name, Dept/Faculty, Program (MA/PhD/Postdoc), email)
  4. Collaborators (identify any collaborators who were involved in supporting your project)
  5. Project Goal
  6. Describe
    1. the activities that were carried out and results achieved;
    2. any ongoing activities resulting from the project
    3. any unanticipated benefits derived
    4. obstacles/challenges encountered
    5. advice for any students/postdocs considering taking up a SPICES project in future (optional field)
    6. suggestions on how the SPICES funding opportunity could be improved (optional field)
    7. contact info for any group members who would like to be contacted about their project (optional field)

2. Budget Narrative A breakdown of your actual expenses, relative to your proposed budget.