Colgate provides seed funding for students founders who are working on ventures in the Thought Into Action Incubator to accelerate their progress, thanks to generous monetary donations from mentors, alumni, and parents.

Seed grants are intended for student founders who have demonstrated commitment to their ventures, worked closely with mentors to integrate feedback and iterate, and completed initial customer validation and prototyping. Ventures are eligible for up to $1,000 in funding during their lifetime, and the average amount awarded is $500.

Applications are accepted from September-April each year.

Apply for a Seed Grant

Grants should be used for the purpose of validating your venture with real constituents (customers, donors, users, etc.). While not limited to these use cases, these types of applications will have the best chance of being approved. Some examples include:

  • Subsidize the costs of tutors, in a real-time tutor marketplace business, to test a pilot
  • Hire a translator to help facilitate user-interviews with non-native speakers key to understanding the problem you’re trying to solve
  • Fund a first production run of a product, that ideally has already been research, and maybe even pre-sold, to customers (i.e. demand has already been validated)
  • Help cover the cost of a designer to create v.1 of a product, but only after the demand for the product has been well researched, tested, and confirmed

Funding cannot be used for the following:

  • Services like legal expenses, accounting, insurance, etc. While these are often necessary steps in getting a venture off the ground, seed grants are designed to fund market validation and product development.
  • Wages for team members (i.e., you can't use these funds to pay yourself a salary for working on your venture)

The following items are expected. If you’re unclear or have questions about your eligibility, reach out to prior to submitting an application.

  • You must be a current Colgate student and founding-level member of a venture in the TIA Incubator.
  • You must have an endorsement from your mentors that reflects your positive personal brand. Your mentor references in the application will corroborate this.
  • You (and your TIA teammates) have no more than one excused absence from a monthly TIA workshop.
  • You must have received less than $1,000 in seed grant funding if you have previously received a seed grant and are applying for another one.
  • Submit your application using the link above.
  • The director and alumni executive director of TIA will complete an initial review of your application.
  • Your application will then go through a review process with your mentors. You may be required to incorporate feedback and changes to your application. 
  • The final version of the proposal will then be submitted to the Seed Grant Committee for review. The committee meets monthly and consists of the director, alumni executive director, TIA founder, and member of the TIA Mentor Advisory Board.
  • Your will receive a decision from the committee after their meeting. If more information is still needed, the director will work with you to make necessary changes.
  • Each team may apply for up to $1,000 in funding per venture, regardless of the number of years in TIA.
  • Applications may be submitted for one lump sum, or in smaller increments, as needs arise.  
  • Funds should not be used to pay for things like legal expenses, accounting or other similar services that are not related to customer validation, prototyping, or production.
  • Funding is not intended to be used as a wage or to replace lost wages (i.e. you can’t use this money to pay yourself a salary for working on your venture).
  • There is a limited amount of money available for seed grants each academic year. Once that amount is granted in full (regardless of the number of ventures awarded), we will pause grant funding until the following academic year. 
  • Founders/ventures retain any and all, current and future, intellectual property. Colgate University makes no claims to these assets, or any future assets created, related to the venture.
  • The capital awarded is in the form of a grant. There is no equity consideration in exchange, so founders will retain all of their equity.
  • Information submitted may be used by Colgate University in promotional material

Funds are issued in the form of a grant and will be distributed in one of two ways:

  • If the venture is incorporated and has an Employer Identification Number (EIN), the money will be disbursed to the venture.
  • If the venture does not have an EIN, the money will be distributed to one member of the team. In this situation, in compliance with IRS regulations, the grant is considered taxable income. The team member who receives the grant will be responsible for reporting this award on their tax returns. In the case of an International student, a Social Security number is required. Please consult your tax advisor for additional information or advice.

Payments will be made once all required paperwork is completed.

After grants are distributed, teams are required to do the following: 

  • Within 4 months, awardees must provide clear documentation of how the funds were used and the results those activities yielded
  • Write a blog post for TIA about the impact of the seed grant
  • Submit an electronic thank you note addressed to the donors that details the impact that this grant made on your progress. 
  • Assist with one activity organized by Thought Into Action focused on the recruitment of new TIA students. Activities may include speaking at a Brown Bag session to recruit new student entrepreneurs.
  • Failure to comply with these requirements by the deadline indicated may result in a repayment of the grant, and forfeiting one’s opportunity to re-apply for seed funding in the future. 

Colgate reserves the right to require payback of the grant if the recipient does not comply with all requirements and deadlines.


Please contact with any questions about the application process.