President's Administrative Innovation Fund


The President’s Administrative Innovation Fund (PAIF) was created to catalyze administrative innovation and collaboration across Harvard by investing in staff-generated, creative solutions that support our faculty, students, and staff colleagues. Since 2016, the PAIF has invested $600,000 in 48 projects involving over 200 administrative innovators across the University.

Click here to learn more about previously funded projects.

This year’s theme is Evolving Staff Engagement.



Each year, the PAIF supports ideas that exemplify administrative innovation:


  • Administrative Excellence
  • Talent Development
  • Service Delivery
  • PAIF Info Session
    March 1
  • Application Submission
    April 4


We encourage proposals that align with this year’s theme of: “Evolving Staff Engagement”

The past two years of the COVID-19 pandemic have changed the way we work and the way we connect with one another. This year, the President’s Administrative Innovation Fund is encouraging proposals that advance staff engagement. This is an opportune time to introduce innovative thinking on how to generate positive working relationships, how to facilitate meaningful work, and how to advance professional growth amidst many competing demands. Building on our current strengths in staff engagement will enhance connectedness to each other and to the mission of the University.

We are introducing a new funding opportunity this year: “Administrative Inspiration”

You may have the start of an idea that with further exploration could develop into a promising administrative innovation. We will welcome your “Administrative Inspiration” concepts in which you can seek up to $5,000 in funding for research, data collection, and other important starting points.

Who is eligible to Apply

All benefits-eligible Harvard administrative/professional, support, or service and trades staff member may apply. Faculty, post-doctoral fellows, temporary employees, students, and co-ops are not eligible.

If you have a question about eligibility, please inquire via the link below

Application Process


  • 1

    Application Submission

  • 2

    1st Round Judging (Finalists Selected)

  • 3

    Finalists Submit Project and Budget Plan

  • 4

    Finalists Prepare for a Pitch Presentation

  • 5

    Final Round Judging

  • 6

    Selection of Awardees

Innovation Stages

The PAIF is designed to fund three stages of innovations, as described below: Seed, Sustain, and Scale. We welcome administraive innovations that feature cross-unit, cross-school, and cross-functional collaboration and we encourage projects that have the potential for positive impact throughout the University.

  1. 1

    Our project is a new idea that we are seeking to launch with support from the President’s Administrative Innovation Fund
  2. 2

    Our innovation has been implemented and we are seeking support from the President’s Administrative Innovation Fund to continue development and use
  3. 3
    Our innovation has had initial success and we look forward to expanding it to other schools/units at the University

Most projects request $5,000 to $15,000 in funding (this year, projects in the “Administrative Inspiration track may apply for up to $5,000). One or two exceptional projects may receive up to $25,000 in funding. Projects must be completed within one year.




In this application we’re only asking you for an estimate of how much funding you’re requesting.

Finalists will be asked to develop a more detailed budget. Note funds may be used for non-exempt overtime (as applicable), software/technology, temporary help (staff or students), back-filling for staff working on the project, and other project-related costs. 

Funds may not be used for payment to staff salaries nor to fund an individual’s proprietary product (any products resulting from PAIF funded projects are Harvard University intellectual property).

Judging Criteria

For all proposals except those to the “Administrative Inspiration” strand:

Projects will be judged according to the following criteria:
•    The proposal represents an innovative approach to an administrative challenge.
•    The proposal is expected to have a measurable impact once implemented.
•    The proposal highlights a persistent administrative problem worth solving.
•    The intended outcome reflects the proposed type of innovation (Seed, Sustain, Scale).
•    The initial plan outlines action the team can execute within a year.
•    The proposed budget is informed, practical, and reasonable in alignment with the scope of work and the goals of the project.
•    Ideas with cross-school and cross-functional collaboration and ideas that enable us to realize the University’s full potential as a diverse and inclusive workplace will be especially valued.


For proposals to the “Administrative Inspiration” strand:

Projects will be judged according to the following criteria:
•    The proposal introduces an innovative solution to an administrative challenge that presents the potential for a future project
•    The proposal offers a systematic approach to exploring the innovative idea, which could include conducting research, interviews, and other activities to inform future direction
•    The proposal presents a plan and a budget (up to $5,000) to produce a report within one year that would inform the prospects for the innovation
•    Ideas with the potential for cross-school and cross-unit potential are encouraged.
•    Ideas that align with this year’s theme of “Evolving Staff Engagement” are encouraged.

By submitting your innovation, you are acknowledging a few things:

  1. You and your co-applicants are benefits-eligible Harvard administrative/professional, support or service and trades staff members. may apply.  (Faculty, post-doctoral fellows, temporary employees, students, and co-ops are not eligible.)
  2. You have spoken to your manager(s) about this idea and they are supportive of you spending time to lead its implementation.
  3. Your idea will be shared among judges and other administrators across the University (and will be attributed to you.)