Included below are policies and guidelines for students and alumni applying for Seed Grants through the Public Service Venture Fund.
For Seed Grants, the Selection Committee invites any Harvard Law School 3L or alumnus to apply for a seed grant to support a proposed organization that is in its initial stages and has few available funding sources. Candidates may apply individually or as a team. Teams are limited to two Harvard Law School students/graduates, with exceptions for more than two partners in rare cases. Harvard Law School students may also apply with one external partner, but funding will only be provided to the Harvard Law School team member. There will be a preference for funding graduating students and alumni at the early stages of their careers, but any alumnus who might otherwise have difficulty accessing early-stage funding will be eligible. Funds are restricted to candidates who hold a J.D. from Harvard Law School.
The selection committee welcomes any project that is in an early stage, innovative (does not duplicate effective existing services), sustainable (will attract further funding or be able to generate its own funds), and furthers social justice. The projects are not required to be law-related, and they may be based anywhere in the world. Seed Grant organizations must be (501)(c)(3)s, or the equivalent, during the two years they are funded by the Harvard Law School Public Service Venture Fund, but may convert to another form once no longer receiving Harvard Law School funding.
It is important to note that those eligible for both theOrganization-Based (Org-Based) Fellowships and the Seed Grants may apply for both, submitting a separate application for each fellowship. Moreover, those applying for Seed Grants are strongly encouraged to also apply for the Org-Based Fellowships, if eligible, given the high level of competition for Seed Grants.
The PSVF Seed Grant application can be found here. In addition to essays and letters of support, the Seed Grant application also requires the submission of a Business Plan and 2-Year Budget. For guidance on these aspects of the application, please see the Resources section of the PSVF website. Requests for additional guidance on the Business Plan can be directed to Judy Murciano, OPIA’s Associate Director and Director of Fellowships, at email@example.com.
Selection Process and Timeline
The selection process will begin with an online application, followed by interviews for those selected as semifinalists. While it is highly advised to meet with a member of the OPIA staff for interviewing practice and feedback prior to one’s PSVF interview, preparedness for the interview is the responsibility of the applicant. After this round of interviews, finalists will be selected based on the strength of their proposals and application materials as well as their interviews. Finalists will receive feedback and coaching prior to the final round of interviews which will determine the Seed Grant recipients. Below is a timeline for the 2014-2015 Seed Grant application cycle:
- Optional letter of intent for 3Ls to express interest and get feedback: September 19, 2015
- Online application: October 22, 2015, 5 PM
- Interviews: mid-November 2015
- Final interviews: February 2016
- Final award decisions: mid-March 2016
There is no preference for work on a particular issue. Among competing applicants, the Public Service Venture Fund prioritizes projects that address the greatest need and/or possess the greatest potential for impact.
Seed Grant fellows will receive $80,000 per year, with the expectation of renewal for a second year. Up to $45,000 of this $80,000 is intended for personal salary and benefits, though Seed Grant recipients may supplement their salaries in accordance with PSVF Seed Grant Salary and Benefits Guidelines. For Seed Grant applicants that apply as teams of two, the joint proposal will be eligible for $125,000, covering two salaries and shared overhead funding.
Questions about the PSVF Seed Grants should be directed to Alexa Shabecoff, Chair of the Venture Fund and OPIA Director, at firstname.lastname@example.org. For advice about the application process, contact Judy Murciano, OPIA’s Associate Director and Director of Fellowships, at email@example.com.