Mastercard Foundation Faculty Seed Grant Program


The UC Berkeley Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program Seed Grant (Seed Grant) will provide two seed grants each year of up to $10,000 to promote cross-partner collaborations and capacity building efforts with African institutions that align with the Mastercard Foundation’s Young Africa Works strategic plan:

“By 2030, our work will enable 30 million young people in Africa, especially young women, to secure employment they see as dignified and fulfilling. Using youth employment as a key measure of socio-economic progress, we aim to help millions of people to find a pathway out of poverty.”

Collaborations sponsored through a Seed Grant can be existing or new, should have impact at both institutions and build pathways to and from UC Berkeley for African graduate students. Initiatives of particular interest include: improving the quality of education and vocational training; leveraging technology to connect employers and job seekers; enabling entrepreneurs and small businesses to expand through access to financial services.

Beyond aligning with Young Africa Works, the Seed Grant encourages projects that:

  • Mutually enhance capacities at African institution(s) and UC Berkeley;
  • Include African youth and/or Mastercard Foundation Scholars and alumni in the design and implementation of the project;
  • Seek to include and/or address barriers to employment faced by women, people with disabilities or those who are refugees or displaced within Africa;
  • Facilitate access for African institutions to UC Berkeley and the Bay Area’s expertise and resources;
  • Diversify Berkeley’s curriculum by integrating learnings and activities into teaching and research;
  • Enhance recruitment streams from African universities to Berkeley graduate programs.
  • Facilitate pathways to return for Mastercard Foundation Scholars and other African students and alumni from UC Berkeley to positions of influence in African institutions.


The Seed Grant is open to all faculty members and researchers who hold a permanent appointment and principal investigator status at UC Berkeley. Proposals must be submitted jointly with a collaborator who holds a permanent appointment at an African university, research institution, civil society organization or government agency.

Postdocs and graduate students are NOT eligible to apply as project coordinators but may serve as collaborators on research teams.

Previous grantees may apply with a new partner for a new project, as long as the previously granted project was completed at least two years prior to July 1 of the application year.

Teams of researchers who previously received a Seed Grant may NOT reapply together, even if the proposed project is a new one. Researchers may submit a maximum of ONE application per funding round.


Budget: Projects may be funded to a maximum of $10,000 (USD).

Allowable Expenses: Seed Grants may be used exclusively for expenses specific to the proposed collaboration. Grants may be used for program or research-related services (e.g., digitization of documents, production of questionnaires/surveys, human subject costs, data entry, transcriptions of interviews, running focus groups and surveys, duplication costs, purchases of microfilm, etc.).

Grants may be used to cover organizing expenses for conferences and workshops, including facility rental, catering, printing, etc.

Grants may cover project-specific travel to enable short- term visits and exchanges between research teams. All travel expenses are subject to University of California policy.

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to impact international travel, the Seed Grant program is also eager to promote cross- border collaboration in creative formats (e.g., virtual conferences and workshops, websites, etc.).

Seed Grant funds may NOT be used to cover the following:

  • salaries or stipends of project personnel, including administrative staff, students, or postdocs.
  • release time for faculty.
  • everyday living expenses that would be incurred regardless of the project.
  • publication costs.
  • registration fees for existing conferences.
  • purchase of equipment (e.g., computers, recording equipment, etc.), supplies, or software, aside from project-specific materials to be consumed over the course of the collaboration.

Duration: Funded projects must be completed within 18 months of start date. Grantees may request a one-time no-cost extension of six months for extenuating circumstances. Extension requests must be submitted to before the project’s end date and will be reviewed on a case- by-case basis. Any unused grant funds that remain after the project’s end date must be returned.

Grant Reporting: All grantees are required to submit interim and final reports describing progress and status of project goals and outcomes, including how funds were spent to date. Interim reports are due within six months of the project’s start date; final reports are due upon completion of the project.


STEP 1: Complete the online application form with project information. To assist with preparation, assemble this following information:

  • Name, address and contact information of the UC Berkeley and African Institution Project Coordinators
  • Project title and area of research
  • Total budget of project, budget requested from seed grant, other sources of funding requested and secured

STEP 2: In the appropriate section of the online application form, upload supporting materials as a single PDF file in the following order:

  • A. Project proposal, (max 3 pages of narrative; 1 additional page for references). The proposal should describe the nature of the collaboration, how the project aligns to the Young Africa Works goals, the involvement of Mastercard Scholars (detailing their names and roles in the project) and/or other African youth, and the proposed institutional impact of the collaboration. Include a project timeline.
  • B. Letter of intent (max 1 page), signed by both project coordinators, indicating their commitment to collaborate and to observe the project timeline and budget.
  • C. Project budget (max 1 page) indicating a breakdown of expenses by category (airfare, lodging, etc.) and other sources of funding (potential and actual).
  • D. Curriculum vitae (max 2 pages) of each project coordinator.

Make sure to upload all supporting materials before submitting the online application form.

To assist our office, please save your supporting document PDF file with the following title format:

[Last Name of UC PI]_[Last Name of African Institution PI]_SEEDGRANT

The link to the online form is


Rolling. Reviews start after 6 March 2024.

Late or incomplete applications will NOT be considered for funding.

Questions? Contact us at

We are grateful to the inspiration and model provided by Larry Hyman and the France-Berkeley Fund in the development of this Seed Grant proposal process.

For details on the Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program at UC Berkeley visit the Program's webpage. Visit the Foundation's webpage for general information about the Scholars Program.

Text based Logos of the Mastercard Foundation Scholars Program and UC Berkeley