The Explorer Challenge


Explorer Challenge Report

  • Read about the success of the Explorer Challenge over the past years in our published report.


The Explorer Challenge, formerly the Strategic Innovation Fund, invites Marquette students, faculty, and staff to submit proposals for up to $25,000 in seed money for innovative projects that make an impact and advance Marquette's Strategic Plan. 

The Explorer Challenge funds may be used for a wide variety of projects including: developing new interdisciplinary research clusters, building community and industry partnerships, funding ideas that will help the university operate more effectively or efficiently, or other potentially high impact ideas that require seed funds to test concept or build momentum. Innovation can include adaptation of existing strategies to support Marquette in new ways as well as development of brand new ideas. Projects that are interdisciplinary and which have the potential for community partnership or impact are encouraged.

Recognizing that true innovation requires diverse perspectives, this year’s competition will feature a special emphasis on integrating inclusive practices into Explorer Challenge projects.  Applicants will be asked to discuss the ways that their project demonstrates inclusive approaches as part of the pre-proposal and final proposal.

Explorer Challenge Stats

Faculty research ideas that could normally be supported by other mechanisms, such as the Summer Faculty Fellowship, Regular Research Grants, or Way Klingler Research Awards, will typically not be competitive for funding through the Explorer Challenge. Academic program development may be eligible but the Provost’s Program Incubator may be a more appropriate source for some of these ideas. Students looking to launch entrepreneurial ventures should also explore the resources of the 707 Hub for other funding and support opportunities.

Proposals should not include supplemental undergraduate financial aid. 

Please send questions about the fund to


The following are generally expected funding guidelines for The Explorer Challenge, formerly the Strategic Innovation Fund:

  • Explain how your project will demonstrate inclusive approaches.
  • Demonstrate to the reader that your project is innovative. Innovation can include adaptation of existing strategies to support Marquette in new ways as well as development of brand new ideas.
  • Write for a general audience.
  • Clearly define the problem or opportunity being addressed and the strategy used.
  • Represent a cross-campus collaborative effort, as appropriate to the project.
  • Have the potential to become financially sustainable if the project is expected to continue beyond the funding period.
  • Demonstrate the impact of the project on Marquette and the broader community, as appropriate.
  • Provide a set of realistic goals that can be achieved within a defined time period.