The submission process is purposefully straightforward. Begin by filling in a bit of basic information and send us a short description of your plan. That can be a 1-page document outlining what you want to do, a link to a short (1-minute) YouTube video, or a short pitch desk about your idea. We’re not looking for anything too fancy; it just needs to be a great idea.
1. What is 99Dreams?
99dreams is an initiative that will provide grants of $1000 each to 99 ambitious high school students over the next five years to fund intellectual or entrepreneurial projects. Whether that means building a weather balloon or a website, the only criteria are that you dream big and show us a realistic path to get there. It was started out of the recognition that independent extracurricular work is an essential part of the high school experience that is too often overlooked.
2. Who can apply for a 99Dreams grant?
Any high school student anywhere in the world can apply today. The only requirement is that you have a dream, either for a project or experience that doesn’t exist yet, or to take an existing independent project to the next level.
3. What kind of projects do you accept?
In the past we have met students working on projects for competitions such as Intel ISEF like the student group that is turning their high school’s leftover frying oil into biodiesel, Conrad Spirit of Innovation Challenge like the team that built a device which used localized vibration to help children with autism integrate into mainstream schools, DECA Competitive Challenge like the student working on an app to improve worker safety in China or Siemens Competition like the student who is researching the correlation between the pollutant pm 2.5 and lung cancer. We have also met students who are organizing impressive activities via their student organizations. Those are cool initiatives which we would love to support. We are looking for big thinkers, with a big idea, it can be for participating in one of the activities mentioned above or something totally different such as creating your own startup or organizing an event that will in some way benefit your community. All we are really looking for is that the idea will get the student active in turning one of their dreams into reality.
4. What is the application process for the 99Dreams grant?
We have intentionally left the required proposal relatively open-ended; we simply want to fund ambitious ideas or provide additional funds for existing projects that need more resources. As a result of this, we require only a 1-page document, 1-minute YouTube video, or short slide deck for our application. After our team reviews all of the submissions, we’ll invite the top 5-8 proposals to a 30-minute Skype interview with our team prior to making our final decisions.
5. I’m struggling to figure out what to submit for my proposal, what exactly are you looking for in a good proposal?
When creating your document, video or deck, consider addressing the following questions: What is the core idea or experience that you need the money for? (At least 3-5 sentences) Why does this project interest you at a personal level? Who are your team members? How do you plan to use the $1,000 USD if we fund you? What sort of impact will your project make? If you are looking to help fund an existing project, explain your project and the progress you’ve made thus far, and then elaborate on why you need the funding.
6. So I win the $1,000 USD, I can spend it anyway I want right?
Within reason. Of course you can’t spend it on a new Nintendo Switch, (unless your proposal is to somehow modify it to do something amazing). If you are awarded a grant, our team will check-in regularly to make sure you’re making progress and hitting benchmarks. In addition, our partner Divvii will provide $1,000 USD worth of 1:1 mentorship to help ensure you’re making quality progress and learning about the process of building an independent project. Finally, depending on the nature of the project, we may withhold a portion of the funding until certain benchmarks are reached, but this will be determined on a case-by-base basis.
7. How long should I expect this money to last?
Our expectation is that this money should last you about three months. This funding is designed to cover semester or summer long projects.
8. My project has taken off and needs more resources, is there an opportunity for follow-up funding?
Not formally through the 99Dreams fund, but we’re happy to help students who win our initial award connect with investors or seek out additional scholarships and grants to continue working on their projects.
9. When and how will I know if I win?
For this first round we will be announcing a winner on June 1, 2017 via the 99Dreams portal of our website.
10. What if my project is not selected?
We expect to get many entries for 99Dreams and unfortunately will be unable to fund all of them. Throughout the application review process we will select a few cool ideas and showcase them on our site to help increase their visibility and to highlight what high school students can do if they think big. If your project is not selected, it does not mean that it is not good, or that we are not interested. Our goal is really to inspire all students to think big and come up with a plan. We are not the only funding source out there and once you have a plan we encourage you to continue submitting it to other potential funding sources. We would love to hear about your progress and we are here to offer feedback on how to execute your ideas.
11. I have more than one Dream that I would like to have funded by 99Dreams, can I apply more than once?
If you have more than one Dream that is awesome, unfortunately due to limitations of this fund, we can only review one application per student. Please select the dream that you are most passionate about and submit it to 99Dreams. We would love to sponsor all students’ dreams everywhere but our resources are limited and so we have to remain focused with this grant for now. In the future we may expand to allow students to submit multiple ideas.
12. Who is behind the 99Dreams initiative?
Check us out here and here. We’re a team of dedicated educators and entrepreneurs who possess over three decades of experience helping students prepare for their higher education, including working at some the best schools in the world, including Cornell University and Phillips Exeter Academy. We’ve been featured here, here, & here.
13. I would like to sponsor a dream. How can I get involved?
If you are an individual or institutional supporter of student Dreams and would like to support our quest to make 99Dreams a reality shoot us a message. We would love to hear from you and chat about how we can work together to help students realize their dreams.