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OER Faculty Grant

The Affordable Instructional Resources (AIR) initiative invites faculty to apply for grant funding to develop open educational resources (OER) for undergraduate courses.

OER are teaching materials that are free, distributed online, and allow anyone to copy, use, adapt, and remix the materials for free. OER are commonly used as alternatives to expensive textbooks by providing students with high quality course readings at no cost.

Funded by the Office of the Provost and University Libraries, these grants are intended to fund the work involved in finding, creating, using, and sharing OER as replacements for required commercial textbooks. No experience with OER is necessary to apply.

Grant benefits

  • $5,000 to develop, use, and publish OER for a Northwestern undergraduate course. 
  • Grant recipients receive individualized support from librarians on finding, using, and publishing OER. See below for a detailed list of the type of support offered.

Grant funds can be taken as a stipend, or used to pay for aspects of OER development, such as student assistants, recording equipment, or travel. Standard taxes and benefit deductions apply.

OER Support Available

  • Consultations to discuss publishing platform options
  • Finding existing OER to adapt and build upon
  • Copyright guidance on the use of third-party materials
  • Formatting support, training, and hosting on Northwestern's publishing platform Open Books (powered by Pressbooks)
  • Working with AccessibleNU to ensure accessibility
  • Assigning a Creative Commons license, DOI, and ISBN
  • Creating exports of the OER in multiple formats (html web book, PDF, and EPUB)
  • Sharing your OER and making it discoverable via OER repositories
  • Maintaining persistent access and storage via Arch, Northwestern’s institutional repository

Application materials

We will consider one application per course. Two or more faculty members may submit a combined application for a project that covers multiple courses, in which case each faculty member may be eligible for a $5,000 grant. Applications include submission of an online form, along with a brief project narrative (500 word limit), where we ask you to address the following:

  • Project summary: Briefly describe your project, why you’re pursuing OER creation, and what you hope to accomplish
  • Impact: Describe the intended impact of your project on course affordability (including current material costs, usual student enrollment, and the frequency of course offering), student learning, filling disciplinary gaps, and/or your teaching
  • Timeline: Provide a work plan with an estimated timeline for implementation in a course (no later than spring 2026)
  • Assessment: Describe your plan for assessing your newly created course materials and their impact of student learning outcomes 

Project narratives will be accepted in PDF format via the application form. To see a list of grant recipients and projects from past years, visit our grant recipients page.


Project proposals will be evaluated based on the following criteria:

  • Potential cost savings: The proposal includes information on current material costs, usual or expected student enrollment, and the frequency of the course offering
  • Objectives: The proposal’s objectives are clearly articulated and well-planned. The rationale for approaching the project is clear, and the applicants have reflected on the work necessary to make it a success
  • Impact: The proposal articulates how the OER will make a pedagogical impact in the course and/or how it will fill a disciplinary gap in open content
  • Assessment: An assessment plan is included that addresses the quality of the OER and the impact it will have on student learning outcomes
  • Feasibility: The proposal’s timeline is feasible and aligns with the work required to complete the project in a timely manner. Priority will be given to projects expected to be used in a course by the 2025-2026 academic year. 


Full-time, benefits-eligible faculty, tenure-line or instructional, with continuing appointment through the grant period. Postdocs or adjunct faculty who are interested in participating in the program may apply with an eligible faculty sponsor.

Selection process

Deadline for submitting applications is November 10, 2023. Applications will be evaluated by a selection committee comprised of members from the AIR team, a former grant recipient, and a learning engineer. Applicants will be notified in January 2024 if their proposal has been selected for funding. Project work is expected to begin in summer 2024.


Grant requirements

Selected grantees will be required to complete the following:

  • Attend a launch meeting in summer 2024 to connect with fellow grantees, learn the basics of OER, and discuss project ideas.
  • Meet with the Open Education Librarian for an individualized OER consultation to discuss a timeline and work plan.
  • Check in with the Open Education Librarian quarterly or as needed to report progress and request support.
  • Publish any new or derivative OER under a Creative Commons license using the Libraries' digital publishing services.
  • Participate in at least one speaking engagement or interview to share your experience of creating an open resource with the Northwestern community.

Completed projects are expected to be implemented in a course offered by Spring 2026. 

Prior to submitting a proposal, faculty can contact Lauren McKeen McDonald, Open Education Librarian, at to discuss project ideas.

Grant criteria and application requirements were adapted from Iowa State University's Miller OER Grant Program.