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Student COVID Response Summer Program

The spread of COVID-19 has changed how we live our daily lives and how we envision the future, as it threatens our loved ones, our local communities, and our world. There couldn’t be a more important time than now to respond and make a difference. In order to support students who wish to undertake this work, Tisch College provided funding for a Tisch Student COVID Response (TSCR) Summer Program. This funding allowed students to innovate, self-design, or work with an existing project that addresses the impacts of COVID-19.

Students were especially encouraged to pursue projects that address racial issues related to COVID-19 and Tisch College designated a special stream of funding to support these initiatives.

Program Elements and Requirements

Students may address needs in their hometown community or address a broader need whether domestic or global. Grants will be awarded from any amount needed up to $3,000 to support payments and/or the purchase of materials, supplies, and any other resources required for the successful implementation of the projects. Projects can start anytime throughout the summer. Students can work independently, as a group, and/or with a partner organization. All currently enrolled Tufts students are eligible.

In addition to the funding, Tisch College staff will provide:

  • Weekly office hours to answer questions and provide support prior to application submissions and throughout the summer for ongoing support. 
  • 2-3 group meetings for all fellowship recipients. This meeting will allow students to network, see connections amongst projects, and crowd-source challenges.
  • A pairing with a Tufts Alumni Mentor to support your work (optional)

We are open to a wide range of ideas and approaches. Whether your focus is the arts, humanities, STEM, or social sciences we want to hear from you. Every field and discipline have ways to address COVID-19 issues. Some examples of projects include:

  • Developing a remote tutoring program for public school students
  • Designing a new way to create face shields through a network of 3D printers
  • Creating data visualization maps related to the spread of COVID-19
  • Working with an NGO to research ways to address emerging food access issues in rural communities
  • Documenting structural inequalities that the virus has exposed and made even deeper
  • Creating an animated video for children in multiple languages to address COVID-19 fears and bring kids together from different countries
  • Supporting a statewide effort to increase voter participation in the 2020 election in spite of new restrictions that may be in place in November

These are just a few examples of the countless ways to respond. Write stories, utilize data, create an app, videotape kids’ activities, design new PPE, work on a research project, facilitate new connections, join a team, gather new resources, etc. Use your capacity for innovation, entrepreneurial spirit, and motivation to do something that makes a difference during this unprecedented time.

The applicaiton period is currenty closed.

Selection Criteria

•    All work must be done remotely 
•    Projects must directly address an issue related to COVID-19
•    Students must explain and document the need
•    Application, timeline, and budget form must be completed
•    Both innovative ideas and work on an ongoing project or program will be considered. For self-designed projects, feasibility must be addressed.
•    Overall strength of proposal is the primary criteria.

Support the Program

Tisch College is matching donations up to $50,000 to the TSCR program. Please click here to make a donation to support this program. For more information, contact Director of Development Karen Culbert at or call (617) 627-2728.

Frequently Asked Questions

If I have an idea for a project but I’m not sure it would qualify, what should I do?
Please email Alex Lein, Student Coordinator, at

I have no need for supplies so can I submit a budget for just a $3,000 payment?
Yes, absolutely. Applications will be judged on the basis of the selection criteria with a major focus on the overall strength of the proposal. Payment amounts will be considered in the context of the time spent on the project.

If I have already been selected as a Tisch Summer Fellow, can I also apply for this fellowship?
Unfortunately, no. We are trying to engage as many students as possible through the funds available this summer.

I really want to participate but I have not found an opportunity. Do you have any resources that list programs and initiatives that would fit the criteria?
While we do not have recommended opportunities, we do have two places to look. One is on Tufts Civic Impact, which lists opportunities that have been sent to Tufts and Tisch College. There is also a list that you can search for additional options. This list is not vetted by us and you would need to apply directly to the organization, secure a position, and then apply for TSCR funding. Keep in mind that these may already be filled or no longer active.

Can I find an organization that is looking for volunteers and use the payment to pay for my time doing that?
Yes, you may. Our goals include the support of current efforts by community organizations and NGO’s through the efforts of Tufts students. 

If I opt in for an alumni mentor, how will you pair me with one?
We have put out a call for alumni volunteers as we have done in the past for the Tisch Summer Fellows Program. However, this year the call will be sent to alumni beyond Boston, NYC and Washington, D.C., to include alumni from other cities. Mentors will be provided not only to TSF students but also to our 2020 Election Campaign Fellows and TCR Fellows. We will do our best to pair students with alumni that can offer specific guidance on a project if needed, but all alumni volunteer with a desire to connect with and support students.

My project isn’t new. I already started working on it for a class this spring. Can I still apply? 
Yes, as long as you will still be working on it during the summer.

Can I use the budget to pay community organizations or other collaborators?
Unfortunately, no. Payments may only be used by the Tufts student applicant(s).

What if my project still needs work in the fall and I want to continue it?
You may apply to the Tisch Fund for Civic Engagement for materials, supplies, and other costs. Please note that the Tisch Fund does not fund payments or honorarium payments of any kind. More information about the Tisch Fund will be available soon.

Explore Funded Projects

Our COVID response program funded more than 75 projects from students across Tufts University. Read about these innovative and timely initiatives!

Support the Program

Tisch College is matching donations up to $50,000 to this program! To make a donation, please click the button below. For more information, please contact Karen Culbert at or at (617) 627-2728.