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Text: Sparks of Genius Fall 2023 Lineup; Image: Sunset with lit sparkler

Fall '23 Sparks of Genius Sessions

Join us for an upcoming Sparks of Genius session (or many!) this fall. In-person…

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UIDEA Frequently Asked Questions

What is UIDEA? UIDEA is an accelerator intended to fuel new ideas in advancement (fundraising, engagement, marketing, and related services) that benefit the University of Illinois.

When is the next UIDEA? The 12-week program runs every year during the Spring semester. In 2022, it will kick off on January 25, and Demo Day will be on April 26.

Who can apply? Anyone. Advancement staff, students, faculty, alumni, etc. We do encourage teams to have one advancement staff person as a team member or at minimum, a very close advancement advisor.

What kind of ideas do you accept? UIDEA is intended to design…

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The UIDEA Agreement

Updated December 2022

Teams admitted to the UIDEA program complete two separate agreements, one among their own team members defining how they'll work and one with the UIDEA program, called the UIDEA Agreement, which outlines expectations of the Foundation and the members of each team. Below are the expectations everyone agrees to as part of that latter agreement. Key dates for the Spring 2023 batch are posted here.

UIF Responsibilities

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10 Tips for Building a UIDEA Team

We've seen a lot of teams over the years. Small teams. Large teams. Some that lost members as the ideas grew. And some that are standing strong still today. Below are our top 10 tips for building a successful UIDEA team.

Pick people you like to spend time with. People you can have fun with and people you trust to have difficult conversations. You'll be spending a sizable chunk of time together. And your idea and the work will evolve over time. Make sure your team is comprised of people you want to grow and laugh with.

Choose people who are passionate. About this idea specifically. The most successful teams have lived the pain point that…

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Ngage Press Release: Announcing Ngage Now LLC, an technology start up that aims to disrupt alumni relations and philanthropy using digital engagement

A female founded company that works at the intersection of digital engagement and alumni relations.


Chicago, IL. (Aug. 03, 2021) "Ngage Now LLC" has been founded by two advancement employees at the University of Illinois, Nancy Rampson and Ella van Wyk. Its purpose as a company is to build engagement products that offer new methods for data analysis, fundraising and alumni participation through creativity, agility and innovation.

Rampson and van Wyk successfully completed the accelerator program of UIDEA through the University of Illinois Foundation and secured seed money to build a prototype of their first product, a suite of online alumni…

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GrayKea Press Release: Childhood Friends Propel Personalized Giving in the Advancement Industry

Champaign, IL (Sept 5, 2021) — GrayKea (/ɡreɪ/- /ˈke.a/) Inc., a social impact fintech startup that aims to relieve the financial stress of students in college through alumni crowdfunding, has announced today that it has secured a pilot program partnership with the University of Illinois Foundation. The Foundation has also made an investment of $25,000 in GrayKea Inc. to support the initiation and completion of this pilot program. This investment is the first of its kind through the Foundation’s UIDEA program, an internal accelerator that fuels new ideas in university advancement.

GrayKea Inc. was started by three childhood best friends who are now students at the University of…

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Photo of UIC Heritage Garden Seed Library with staff and interns

Campus units launch crowdfunding campaign for Heritage Garden Seed Library

By Esther Obire

From now until April 30, the Office of Planning,…

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12 Things to Know if You are Considering Applying to UIDEA

Be the Joneses. Ideas admitted to UIDEA are those that poise UI to be the benchmark for the industry. Those issues you’ve heard about for years at conferences that no one has tackled? Now’s the chance. The cool thing that your favorite brand is doing that you think could change philanthropy if we could apply it to advancement? Sweet, let’s try it.

Leverage the support system. Yes, your pitch is yours to craft, but you aren’t alone. Lean on your team members and others in the batch. They are in the same position as you. And you’ll be matched with advisors and are encouraged to connect with experts in the advancement program, across the…

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Chatterbox pitching their idea at the F18 Demo Day. Credit: Brian Trout

UI launches first AI-driven chatbot in advancement for 24/7/365 donor relations

After a successful pitch in the inaugural UIDEA batch, team Chatterbox shifted to a…

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Chatterbox article published in CASE Currents

Team Chatterbox's Chat Bot Featured in CASE Currents

Lea Ann Gross and Bill Reynen of UIDEA Team Chatterbox discuss the Foundation's new…

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