Frances and Sydney Lewis Visiting Leaders Fund

CEW+ seeks opportunities to partner with U-M faculty, staff, undergraduate and graduate student organizations, departments, and other campus units to bring leaders to campus.

The CEW+ Frances and Sydney Lewis Visiting Leaders Fund promotes diversity and cultural awareness by bringing women leaders to campus. Visiting leaders who are distinguished scholars and/or practitioners in their fields should spend time interacting with students, faculty, and staff in seminars, presentations, classes, and informal gatherings. Support for visiting leaders from the CEW+ Frances and Sydney Lewis Visiting Leaders Fund requires that a scheduled event be free and open to the entire University community.

Sydney and Frances LewisSydney and Frances Lewis founded the Best Products Co., Inc. in 1957, in Richmond, Virginia. The catalog retailer started as a mail-order business, but when customers wanted to see the merchandise, the idea of a catalog showroom was born. By 1982, Best Products reached sales of $1 billion and had showrooms throughout the United States. Sydney and Frances took their commercial success and worked to effect change in society through the causes and institutions they supported including CEW+.

Frances Aronson was born in New York and reared in Washington, the daughter of a middle-class family. She studied economics and French at LSA and graduated from the University of Michigan in 1942. She went on to study economics further at Harvard. In 1942, she married Sydney and they had three children, antiwar activist and entrepreneur Sydney Lewis Jr. of Miami Beach, Andrew Marc Lewis of Richmon, and Susan Lewis Butler of Washington. Their son Marc served as President and Chief Operating Officer of Best Products and their daughter served as director of the corporate foundation. Sydney and Frances Lewis were awarded the National Medal of Arts in 1987. Sydney passed away on March 12, 1999. He was 79 and had been ill for some time.


  • All proposals submitted for co-sponsorship must include an event that will be free and open to the University community.
  • Proposals must include a complete budget documenting other event collaborators and funding sources.
  • Promotional materials (e.g., press releases, flyers, announcement and event programs, etc.) listing CEW+ as a co-sponsor must be reviewed by CEW+ prior to circulation and distribution.
  • All publicity for events must have the co-sponsorship of the CEW+ Frances and Sydney Lewis Visiting Leaders Fund listed and include the CEW+ logo.
  • An electronic copy of all promotional materials and the final program created for the event must be submitted to CEW+ along with a final budget within 30 days after the event.

Past examples of co-sponsorships include:

  • Come as You Are: Art of the 1990s: Curator lecture with Alexandra Schwartz (UMMA)
  • Teach-In + 50: End the War Against the Planet (College of Literature, Science and the Arts, LS&A)
  • Women’s Rights in the 21st Century (International Institute)
  • She’s the First Student Organization (Student Affairs)
  • William Trotter Lecture Support (Student Affairs)

Funding Limits

  • Student groups:  Amount being requested (max $2500; $4000 if racial equity is a primary focus):
  • Staff or faculty group:  Amount being requested (max $5000; $7500 if racial equity is a primary focus)
  • U-M Department or Unit:  Amount being requested (max $5000; $7500 if racial equity is a primary focus)

Selection Process

A review committee comprised of CEW+ staff makes the award selections. Preference will be given to those proposals that are most in alignment with CEW+’s mission and the purpose of the Frances and Sydney Lewis Visiting Leaders Fund.

*Only those proposals submitted via the CEW+ online form will be considered.

Co-sponsorship requests must be submitted at least FOUR (4) WEEKS in advance.  Requests for retroactive funding will not be considered.

If you have any further questions, please email CEWRFP-events@umich.edu.