ORCA: Funding for Your Student's Research and Creativity

“$1,500 grants for every major!” is the campaign catch phrase encouraging students to apply for mentored-grants. This year, the BYU Office of Research and Creative Activities (ORCA) is celebrating its 26th year of reaching out to undergraduate students of all majors to apply for an opportunity to receive a grant and a memorable, potentially life changing experience through mentored research and creative projects. During their campaign, ORCA will highlight recent student projects to show how ORCA grants fund dreams and change lives.

Why an ORCA?

Students gain powerful experience working outside the classroom on real projects with experts in their field of study. Most ORCA recipients will use this experience to publish papers in academic journals, present findings in conferences, and enhance their resumes for graduate school or employment applications. Additionally, students gain access to a mentor and increase their professional network. This is truly a unique and exceptional opportunity available to BYU students that will enrich lives and open doors of opportunity. 

What is an ORCA grant?

Each year, ORCA awards $1,500 each to hundreds of students representing all disciplines and fields of study around campus to conduct faculty-mentored research projects. Students consult with faculty to produce a research question and plan project methodology. Research questions can be formulated entirely by the student or can be the result of student-faculty collaboration. The $1,500 grant can be used to pay for any costs associated with the project or as compensation for the time the student dedicates to completing the project.

How do you get awarded an ORCA?

Students should approach faculty members to discuss research topics. Ideally, the student will have taken courses from the professor and will have established a relationship prior to applying for an ORCA grant. After formulating a research question or creative project idea, students should attend a free grant-writing workshop that the ORCA office offers each year at the end of September. This year they will be held on September 27th and 28th at 11:00 am and 3:00 pm each day at the Varsity Theater in the Wilkinson center. Research from previous years shows that students who attended this workshop found it very helpful, increasing their chances to receive funding.

Having drafted a final proposal, the student submits an application online through the ORCA website by the deadline, which traditionally falls during the end of October. This year, ORCA Grant applications are due on October 26th. ORCA has traditionally tried to fund as many applications as possible through donations received and will continue to do so!

But my student is still a freshman . . .

Even though your freshman students may not be looking for research or creative opportunities yet, the time will come and the idea will be growing in their minds. Learning about the program now will put them in a good position to receive this opportunity that can enrich their education and invite opportunities for them after graduation.

Sarah Webb works in the Office of Research and Creative Activities (ORCA).