Student Engagement

Focus Application Guidelines

General Information

Students of all majors, undergrad and grad, are eligible to apply for up to $600 in funding for projects in a broad range of the arts. Artists, designers, writers, musicians, and performers are welcome and encourage to submit applications. 

Funded projects may not to be used to receive credit in a course or for a graduate thesis, and all work for the project must be done outside of the classroom.


The first step is to fill out the application form found HERE. You will receive a confirmation e-mail right away, and then a separate e-mail with a link to a drop box folder will be sent soon after with specific instructions outlining how to upload your application. If you are planning to apply, go ahead and do this first step even if your application isn't complete so your drop-box will be ready in advance.

When you upload your Focus Grant proposals, it must be in a PDF format and include a cover sheet, project narrative, timeline, budget, and advisor recommendation letter. Specific details about each section are below as well as sample applications.

Proposals Must Include the Following:

Cover Sheet

ISU E-mail
Phone Number
Title of Project
Amount Requested
Project Advisor’s Name & E-mail 

Project Narrative


Include a short summary of the proposed project.


Give a brief statement outlining the theme(s) and ideas to be explored.


Convince the committee that the work is truly worth doing and not merely a rehash of already well-developed themes. References to the work of others in the field and/or to personal, preliminary investigation is important.

Expected Outcomes

Describe anticipated results or outcomes of the project in the sense of furthering knowledge in a field, and how the project will enhance your artistic development. Visual art proposals should be specific about what will be produced including how many pieces, approximate size, etc. Explain how you envision the piece being displayed. For performing artists include where the performance will be and possible dates. 

Applicant's Background

Include your major and any coursework that qualifies you for this project as well as special experiences relevant to the proposed project, such as class projects, exhibitions, publications, performances, etc. Examples of and/or images of your previous work should be included if possible. Please summarize and don't include a full resume.


Outline the specific steps you will take to complete this project, including preliminary work, test pieces, auditions, and other preparatory exercises. Other things that are helpful to include are when you will order supplies and meet with your advisor. At a minimum, break down your project into monthly increments - two weeks will probably be more helpful to keep you on track later.

The Memorial Union will assist with promotion of performances, but include dates for things like posters, a press release, paid advertising, mass e-mails, etc. Use the Focus timeline to help you set deadlines for all projects.

The more specific you are in your timeline, the easier it will be for the committee to understand your process, plus it will help you manage your time if your project is funded.


A complete budget breakdown is required for funding so you will need to visit shops, talk to venue managers, or look online for prices. Include the name of the item, price, source of your price estimate, (e.g., Dick Blick, University Book Store, etc.), and a brief justification for use. Please do not include links to items in your budget in your proposal.

Grants are limited to a max of $600

Generally, funds should be used to purchase supplies that are consumed in the proposed work. (For example, wood, not the hammer or fabric, not the sewing machine.) There are some exceptions depending on the project or how the supply will be used, so please contact us if you have an idea and we will see if we can make it work.

If you are completing 2D artwork, include framing costs. For 3D projects, pedestals and display items are generally provided by the Memorial Union unless your piece requires a specialized mount.

Funds cannot be used to pay employees or travel.

Funds cannot be used for accessories or shoes for apparel projects unless the items will be made from raw materials, or altered in the project.

Performance projects should include venue and advertising costs. If venue costs are prohibitive for performance proposals the committee will work with you to make your event happen. All events must have at least one performance that is free to the public to attend. Please use the Promotion of Focus Performance Projects outline when determining your budget and outline.

If you are applying as part of a student organization, funds may be restricted so please e-mail us before submitting your application.

Do not include a "miscellaneous" category in budgets. 

For a detailed list of items that are prohibited, look at the last two pages of the Treasurers Manual found on the Campus Organizations Accounting Office website.

Your purchases will be tax exempt through ISU so you will not have to factor in tax, but you will need to factor in shipping costs if applicable.

The committee will require a budget revision or may decide not to fund a project if the budget section isn't complete, so it is important to submit a clear budget with your proposal.

Here is an example of the budgeting format:
10"x20" Gallery Profile Canvas     $15.00       Blick            Suface for painting project
Venue Rental                                 $200.00     M-Shop       Performance on March 10
200 Bound Books                          $455.00     doxdirect     Printing of final project

Project Advisor Letter

All applicants must have a project advisor that is willing to play an active part in the grant process and has expertise in the media you plan to work in. If you don't know anyone, there are several ways to find someone such as checking department websites for faculty information (College of Design for painting instructors for example) or asking one of your professors who may know someone. If you have tried these options without luck, e-mail Letitia Kenemer.

Project advisors must write a short letter attesting to the student's capabilities as well as providing an assessment of the validity of the project and minimum budget requirements. The letter should be e-mailed to the student so they can submit it with the grant application. The following questions should be addressed in the letter: 

How long and in what capacity have you known the applicant?
Evaluate the applicant’s capabilities as they relate to the proposed project.
Evaluate the proposed project, including the student’s timeline and plans for presentation.
Evaluate the budget for the proposed project. Are the documented expenses reasonable and accurate?

Sample Applications
Visual Art Application
Apparel Application
Performance Application

What Happens Next?

Hearings with each applicant will be scheduled to allow the committee time to ask questions about the proposal and see examples of the individual’s (or group’s) work. After the proposal deadline, you will receive an e-mail invitation to sign up for a 10 minute review time. You can bring examples and/or images of your previous work to the hearing.


Contact Letitia Kenemer, Memorial Union Workspace and Arts Coordinator

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