HHI Spark Grants

The Harvard Humanitarian Initiative (HHI) strives to educate the next generations of Humanitarian Leaders. In line with this mission, HHI is pleased to offer Spark Grants to Harvard Graduate Students in the Humanitarian Studies Concentration to help support their humanitarian-related research or practicum projects. We aim to support these students as they engage with hands-on humanitarian research work, network with practitioners in the field, and translate classroom theory to practice.


HHI Spark Grants are available to all Harvard University Graduate Students enrolled in the Humanitarian Studies Concentration. More information about the Concentration can be found here.

Proposal topics need to cover an area within the humanitarian field and must be completed by the time of the student’s graduation from Harvard University. 

Application Form

Direct link to application form on Harvard CARAT. (Opportunity number 7181 on CARAT)

Selection Criteria

Selection criteria will be based on financial need, relevance to the humanitarian field, and project merits.


Applications Materials:

1. Application Form: Please complete the application form linked above to provide us with more information regarding your project by filling out the following required sections: 

  • Project Description
  • Travel
  • Budget
  • Additional Questions

2. Reference letter: One reference letter from a current faculty adviser to your practicum or thesis project. The References section of this form includes instructions on how the faculty member can upload the reference letter directly.

Finalists may be required to engage in an interview process before final decisions are made.


The application deadline is November 10, 2022. Recipients will be notified of selection via email.

Sparks Grants typically cover projects conducted in the winter, spring or summer. Please note that the project must be completed by your graduation from Harvard.

Number of Grantees:

Typically 1-2 students are selected each academic year.

Funding and Allowable Expenses:

Funding amount ranges from $500 to $5,000. Funds are disbursed to grantees via Zelle or check at the conclusion of the selection process.

The funds may be used for project expenses such as travel (in accordance with Harvard University’s current Covid-19 related travel policies), software, books, or data access.

Deliverables and Expectations for Grantees

Grantee is responsible for providing HHI with the following deliverables over the course of the project:

  1. Updated Synopsis of Project (Due one week before travel departure): A week before project travel departure, please provide us with an Updated Synopsis of your project, focusing on your research methodology. If your project does not involve travel, the Updated Synopsis should be submitted within three months of selection for Grant.
  2. Brief Project Update (Due within one month of return from travel): Within a month of returning from project travel, please provide us with a Brief Project Update on progress made during your trip and an update on the research project generally. If your project does not involve travel, the Brief Project Update should be submitted within two months of submitting your Updated Synopsis.
  3. Final Project Update (Due at end of project, or December 1, 2023): Upon completion of the project, please provide us with a summary of the project outcomes and reflections on your project design and methodology. If the project extends into 2023, please provide a project update in December of 2022. This update should include a breakdown of how the grant funds were used.
  4. Thank You to Donor and Dissemination (Due at end of project, or December 1, 2023): Please write a thank you note to the donor who funded the HHI Spark Grant. Please note that grantee information and project deliverables will be disseminated by HHI on our website, social media, and other channels.