Democracy Innovation Fund

The Ash Center’s Democracy Innovation Fund recognizes Harvard Kennedy School students who have an innovative project that addresses challenges to democracy or advances democratic principles.

Up to five HKS students or student teams will be awarded up to $5,000 in recognition of an idea or project—whether policy, community, scholarly, cultural, or artistic in nature—that enables them to think creatively, to learn, and to explore democracy in innovative ways. Projects and ideas need not be limited to traditional student research or learning activities.

In addition to a financial award, the Ash Center will provide ongoing support and mentoring for students through the summer. The award cycle will conclude with a public celebration and sharing of student work with the Harvard community and beyond in fall 2022.


  • Open to current HKS students and HKS joint-degree students, including graduating students
  • Student teams may include other Harvard students outside HKS, provided that one member is from HKS.

Selection Criteria 

Reviewers will judge applications by the following measures:

  • Creativity, the degree to which the project demonstrates a new way of thinking or innovates on an existing idea
  • Inclusivity, the degree to which the project incorporates diverse communities and/or voices, or promotes equity
  • Feasibility, the degree to which the project scope, plan and goals can be achieved within the proposed timeframe
  • Impact, the degree to which the projects will achieve measurable outcomes
  • Learning, the degree to which the project both incorporates and applies teachings from the HKS curriculum

The application process for the 2022 Democracy Innovation Fund is now closed.

Questions? Please contact Christina Marchand at