Bright ideas wanted: Idea Lab funds innovative ideas at Johns Hopkins

Project proposals for three new challenges will be accepted beginning March 27

Last spring, the JHU Idea Lab received 80 ideas in response to three challenges and recorded nearly 9,000 votes from across the Johns Hopkins community.

JHU President Ronald J. Daniels said then that the Idea Lab is a place for people's best, most innovative ideas and encouraged everyone at the university to "be a part of the bold thinking and spirit of service that are hallmarks of our institution."

Since launching in 2015, the Idea Lab has facilitated the funding of 22 crowdsourced proposals from Johns Hopkins students, staff, and faculty to improve cross-divisional cooperation, support diversity and inclusion, encourage sustainability, and deepen JHU's commitment to Baltimore City.

On March 27, organizers plan to kick off a series of three new challenges:

More information on each challenge can be found below.

Students, faculty, and staff can sign into the Idea Lab website with their JHED IDs to submit their ideas through April 19. Online voting will take place April 26 through May 4.

Funding will go to the teams that receive the most votes to implement their proposals, and additional projects will be chosen by a committee to receive funding. Additional parameters specific to each of the challenges are outlined on the website.

Tapping potential

This year, the Ten by Twenty Challenge calls for ideas that align with the university's priority to nurture individual excellence and enable it to flourish. Proposals that help people tap into the power of their full potential on campus or beyond could receive up to $20,000 in funding.

"The Idea Lab is a place where the university community can continue the conversation that created our Ten by Twenty vision and get support for their efforts to make a real, measurable difference toward our goals," says Stephen Ruckman, a senior adviser to President Daniels. "It is exciting to see all the ways people think creatively and compassionately about our research, education, and community service missions."

Last year the Ten by Twenty Challenge focused on the university's commitment to community and offered funding for ideas that would assist Baltimore citizens returning from incarceration. Winning projects involved housing, job training, and trauma intervention for individuals as well as a program to assist returning citizens to secure identification documents.

Diversity in action

The Diversity Leadership Grants have been awarded since 2012 to support innovative programming ideas that foster diversity and inclusion among the kaleidoscope of communities at Johns Hopkins, and proposals will again be solicited through the Idea Lab. This challenge is open to individuals from the university and health system.

"We are excited that the Idea Lab expands our reach as we call for proposals and invites the entire community into the conversation about creating a diverse and inclusive culture," says Ashley Llorens, chair of the Diversity Leadership Council, which offers the grants.

Last year's winners included two programs to work with Baltimore City students: one focused on STEM topics and one about robotics. Other funded projects celebrated the Women of Hopkins with an art installation, fostered better communications with patients who are deaf and those who are Spanish-speaking, and addressed social inequity and gender inclusivity on campus.

Green ideas

The first Eco-Smart Acorn Grant was awarded by the JHU Office of Sustainability last year to a group that plans to enhance existing efforts to collect and reuse the items left behind when students move out of their dorms. The grant program is open again this year on the Idea Lab; organizers are looking for creative ideas that can help improve the operational or cultural sustainability of the institution.

"We are looking for ideas that will heighten consciousness across our campuses, and deepen understanding in ways that are accessible and interesting," says Ashley Pennington, program manager for the Office of Sustainability. "The Idea Lab helps increase the visibility of issues, opportunities, and solutions that impact campus operations, educational outcomes, and research prospects across the university."