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Application & Funding


Apply to Organize Your Own Event

All members of the Swarthmore College campus community may propose an event for any semester in which they are on campus. Students who apply must identify a faculty or staff adviser who agrees to work in the planning and production of the event by meeting regularly and assuring all final details are taken care of.

Purpose of Cooper Grants

In the 1920’s William J. Cooper made a gift through his Will to Swarthmore College “in order that the Faculty, Students, and the College community may be broadened by a closer acquaintance with matters of world interest.” Cooper specified his gift should be used “in bringing to the college eminent citizens of this and other countries who are leaders in statesmanship, education, the arts, sciences, learned professions, and business.”

Letter of Inquiry and Application

If you are applying for a Cooper Grant or a Promise Grant for 2023-24 or 2024-25, you must submit a short “Letter of Inquiry” (LOI) prior to completing the application. The purpose of the LOI is to give each applicant the opportunity to give a brief, focused summary of the “why” of the event. Specifically, the Committee is interested in hearing from each applicant the topic or topics which the proposed event will enable the Swarthmore college community to engage with more broadly, and in what way or ways the proposed guest(s) are well suited to help our community do so. Upon acceptance of the LOI, the application will focus on the “what” of the event, including details on specific activities, space and technical needs, budget requirements, etc.

Some years later, on the occasion of his graduation, an alumnus anonymously established the Promise Fund to bring “guest speakers and performers in music, film, dance, and theatre that show promise of distinguished achievement.”

Today the Cooper Committee awards grants from two distinct funds:

  • Cooper Grants are made in support of topical events in a future academic year featuring guests who are eminent in their fields.
  • Promise Grants are made in support of topical events in a future academic year featuring guests who show promise of distinguished achievement in their fields.

This year’s deadline for a Letter of Inquiry is February 3, 2023.

This year’s deadline for a Full Proposal (Application) is March 24, 2023.

Serendipity Grants are made from Cooper funds and are in support of topical events in the current academic year featuring guests who are either eminent in their fields or show promise of distinguished achievement. A Letter of Inquiry is NOT required prior to submitting an application for a Serendipity Grant, but a Serendipity Application must meet the same standards as Cooper and Promise Grants. Bear in mind that Serendipity Grants are typically in the range of $1,000 - $3,000. Serendipity awards are made on a rolling basis.

Criteria for Awards

Speakers or performers must meet criteria established by the donors of the respective funds. When reviewing applications the Committee considers the following:

  1. Does the topic or subject matter of the proposed event address an issue or issues of broad current interest, particularly where a speaker or performer from outside the campus community can help to broaden the community’s awareness and understanding of the issue(s)?
  2. Does the proposed event demonstrate breadth of appeal? Events likely to draw a campus-wide audience are preferred over more specialized programs.
  3. Does the proposed event allow for sustained interaction between the speakers/performers and the campus community?
  4. Will all aspects of the event be open to the wider campus community?
  5. Does the proposed event complement other types of events (e.g. symposia, lectures, performances) and other subject matter funded by Cooper, Promise, and Serendipity grants during the year?