Lang Center
for Civic & Social Responsibility

Project Pericles Fund of Swarthmore College

Project PericlesEugene M. Lang ’38 and the Board of Managers of Swarthmore College created the Swarthmore Project Pericles Fund (PPF) in 2005. The purpose of the Fund is to supports groups of Swarthmore students who propose and implement social and civic action projects whose scope and sustainability will advance solutions for the issues in question and also promote recognition of students' motivation and capability to address such major issues effectively. Any team of two or more currently enrolled students may apply for grants of up to $25,000 to fund projects that are visionary in scope and groundbreaking in practice. Projects may have a regional, national, or international focus. Students whose formal proposals are accepted and receive Project Pericles Fund grants are designated Periclean Scholars.

Applications are accepted on a rolling basis.

Project Pericles Fund 

Connecting Campus, Curriculum, & Communities

Based upon the Lang Center's commitment to engaged scholarship and ethical intelligence, students who are interested in applying for a grant from the Project Pericles Fund must have taken coursework that is directly relevant to understanding their issue area, unpacking the social problem, and/or designing project elements. In some cases, the project could be developed in the context of the class with the faculty member instructing the course serving as an adviser to the students as the project proposal emerges and comes to fruition. Alternately, another faculty member—preferably one whose scholarship and expertise is germane to the project at hand—can serve as a project advisor. Students who are named Periclean Scholars and receive grant funding would need group members to commit to taking relevant courses throughout the lifetime of the grant.

Timing & Tasks

At the beginning of the fall or spring semester, prospective Periclean Scholars should co-create a project concept following the guidelines below. Lang Center staff and faculty can provide feedback and recommendations as the project concept is developed. The team will be invited to participate in public “concept pitch” (specific date/time/location, TBD). Teams are encouraged to practice their pitch, perhaps seeking support from the Writing/Speaking Associates and/or the Center for Innovation and Leadership. About a week prior to the pitch date/time, the team should submit a one page summary -- following the guide below -- to Jennifer Magee (jmagee1@swarthmore.edu). 

Concept Pitch Guide

A concept pitch is a 5- to 8-minute opportunity to convey eight essential things about your project idea or “concept.” Pitches should conclude with an “ask” of the audience—for seed funding; for advice, participation, or other support; for permission to submit an application for full funding, etc. The audience for your pitch could include members of the Lang Center advisory board, faculty, staff, community members, and so on.

  1. VISION & SCOPE: The vision and scope of a project to foster systems/structure change or otherwise create social impact.
  2. TEAM: Introduce members of the student team (names, major/minor, class years, student ID numbers) and the capacity of the students to enact a project, as evidenced by related experience and study. Refer to non-student team members, if known and applicable.
  3. DESIGN: Processes and methods by which the project could be implemented.
  4. STAKEHOLDERS: Who are the stakeholders and how will they be engaged in the project design, implementation, and/or evaluation of the project? Provide evidence of stakeholder support.
  5. DEMAND: Is there demand for a project like this? How do you know?
  6. FEASIBILITY: Feasibility of the project design, if known.
  7. SOCIAL IMPACT: Anticipated impact of the project in terms of measurable outcomes in the near and long term.
  8. THE ASK: Do you need seed funding ($500) for further research and project design refinement? Are you requesting permission to submit an application for full funding?

Note: If you cannot respond to the prompts above, you are probably not ready for the pitch. Fear not! The Social Innovation Lab @ The Lang Center is a space populated with caring professionals who can help you explore, develop, and modify project ideas. Contact Denise Crossan, Lang Visiting Professor for Issues of Social Change, to learn more about the programming and services available through the Social Innovation Lab.

After the Pitch

  • Those assembled at the pitch will decide together whether to respond favorably to the “ask.”
  • Student groups who engage in the concept pitch may receive seed funding for further research, and ultimately find that their project idea is not feasible. In that case, teams are under no obligation to enact a full-scale project. If seed funding is unused, however, it should be repaid to the College.
  • Student groups who receive permission to submit an application for full funding (up to $25,000 over multiple years) will be invited to participate in a facilitated design thinking process. Then they may choose whether or not to take their idea forward.
    • If a student group chooses not to go further, the students will report to the committee again about what they learned through the course that influenced their thinking about the project design and its lack of feasibility.
    • If a student group chooses to go further, the students will complete an application together that will be submitted to the PPF committee for review. As part of the application, team members will need to submit a multiyear course plan that outlines how the courses they take will influence/inform the design and implementation of the project. New faculty may be invited to serve as project advisers. Contact Jennifer Magee for a copy of the PPF application.

Periclean Scholar Selection Criteria

  • Vision & Scope: Successful applicant teams will propose to work on a communal, regional, national, or international issue to address the underlying causes and conditions of a specific societal problem.
  • Mission Statement: Successful applicant teams will have crafted an eight-word mission statement that clearly articulates the goals and objectives of the initiative as well as the direct beneficiaries.
  • Team: Successful applicant teams will have at least two members from different class years, if possible; will articulate the qualifications and unique contributions of each team member; and will commit to completing Training Needs Assessments annually to determine gaps in team composition; and to working with the Periclean Scholar Adviser to identify strategies and opportunities for offsetting those gaps.
  • Well-Defined Objectives & Innovative Strategies: Successful applicant teams will have well-defined, measurable objectives as well as innovative, entrepreneurial problem-solving strategies. These objectives should reflect values of the team such as inclusion, fairness, diversity, democracy, justice, and opportunity. These elements will form the framework of their plan of action.
  • Feasible Work Plan: Successful applicant teams will demonstrate that their plan of action is feasible, that the team possesses or will obtain the necessary skills and experience to do the work, and that a grant from the Project Pericles Fund would enable them to obtain sufficient resources to meet their goals.
  • Evidence of Stakeholder Support: Successful applicant teams will obtain letters of support from others working on this issue or similar issues who endorse the proposed work of and agree to collaborate with the applicant team, exchanging resources, information, and advice as appropriate.
  • Sustainability: Successful applicant teams will outline a general plan to build capacity of the project constituents (human resources) as well as the team’s demonstrated ability to conduct fundraising (financial resources) to sustain the project beyond the term of Project Pericles funding.
  • Social Impact Measurement: Successful applicant teams will outline a general plan to evaluate processes and outcomes of the project.
  • Reflection on Learning: Successful applicant teams will enumerate their individual and group learning goals, as well as how the courses they will take and the project work they plan to do will help to achieve these goals.
  • Faculty Adviser: Successful applicant teams will have identified a faculty member—preferably one whose scholarship and expertise is germane to the project at hand—who will serve as a project adviser.