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Campus & Community

A chance to help work work better

3 min read

Administrative fund challenges staff to suggest game-changing projects

The President’s Administrative Innovation Fund (PAIF) is now accepting proposals for staff-generated solutions to administrative challenges, centered on a subject that has been at the top of everyone’s minds: the future of work.

Applications for projects that seed, scale, or sustain innovations are due by April 12. In addition to projects that address the future of work, the fund will continue to support new ideas in talent development, service delivery, and administrative excellence. Eligible staff are encouraged to learn more about PAIF by attending a virtual information session on March 18.

“This past year, we have changed how we work in ways that we could not have anticipated prior to the COVID-19 pandemic,” said President Larry Bacow. “The creativity, collaboration, and adaptability that our staff have demonstrated in this period is extraordinary. I’m excited to further sustain the innovative ways in which our staff have collaborated to meet our administrative challenges.”

Created by then-President Drew Faust in 2016 as a One Harvard initiative to foster collaboration across the University, so far PAIF has funded 34 projects to activate and advance projects that support teaching and research at Harvard. The projects have advanced critical University-wide goals in diversity, inclusion, and belonging; new ways of working together; and stronger professional networks. Recently funded projects include:

  • The Harvard Votes Challenge: A non-partisan civic engagement initiative to build a University-wide civic culture, the challenge increased voter registration and participation among students, staff, and faculty by recruiting 8,000 affiliates and 121 campus organizations to ask people to pledge to vote. The project partnered with all 12 degree-granting School registrars to integrate the digital tool TurboVote into student affairs processes, which facilitates voter registration, absentee ballot requests, and election reminders.
  • The Gender-Inclusive Restroom Mapping Project: This project aimed to ensure that all Harvard community members, including those who are transgender, gender nonbinary, and gender nonconforming, can locate inclusive restrooms at Harvard. The team recently launched a website with an inventory of the current gender-inclusive restrooms that exist on campus.
  • The Harvard College Calendar: A centralized and comprehensive calendar for undergraduates that did not exist before its July 2020 launch, the calendar provides a virtual environment for equal access to events that empower both the host and potential participants to find each other while nurturing inclusion and belonging. This platform efficiently enhances coordination and communication while reducing administrative time and redundancies.

The teamwork that has been the hallmark of past PAIF awardees was fully evident in 2020, even as the nine projects funded for that fiscal year encountered unexpected challenges brought on by the COVID-19 crisis. “I was so impressed with the teams’ resilience and commitment to advancing their innovative work despite the disruption to our normal operations,” said Executive Vice President Katie Lapp. “We were disappointed to pause the fund last year amidst the University’s management of the pandemic’s economic impacts, but we are thrilled restart the fund this year to encourage our talented community to continue to pursue their innovative and creative ideas.”

For more information, visit the PAIF website or attend the upcoming information session on March 18.