Students recently wrapped up months of work to award grants to seven local nonprofits from an initial pool of 21 applicants. The winners of this year’s Bowdoin’s Common Good grants included a range of organizations with diverse missions, from a Brunswick food pantry and soup kitchen to a therapeutic riding program in Windham.
When students handed Sweetser a grant for $1,780, it marked the 100th Common Good award made since the program was formed in 2001.
Every year, students apply to be part of the Common Good Grant program, which is set up to mimic a community foundation and to give students experience with philanthropy. Some of the students form a grant committee and are responsible for reviewing applications submitted by nonprofits. Others make up the development committee to gain practice asking for donations.
Most of the money for the grants, $10,000, is provided each year by an anonymous Bowdoin graduate. The rest is raised by students, and this year the development committee raised enough to award three additional grants.Students approached alumni and Friends of the College in the greater Brunswick area for donation, as well as telephoned a Bowdoin graduate out of state who wanted to participate in the program, according to Caitlin Callahan, the McKeen Center’s assistant director for student community service.
“It was a way for the grant committee to connect with alumni,” Callahan said, “and a way for alumni to be involved.”
For many of the students, the long grant-making process, which this year included making site visits to grant finalists,is an eye-opening and personally fulfilling experience.
Jordan Lantz ’15, who was on the development committee, said he valued the program because he was able to participate in service from a new angle for him — that of raising money and awarding grants. Also, he added, “I wanted my role in this community to be more than just a student at Bowdoin. I wanted to make a difference — even a small difference in the greater Brunswick community.”
Elina Zhang ’16, who was also on the development committee, said she felt welcomed into “a gracious Brunswick community with open arms, all of whom have made me feel like I am not simply a student at Bowdoin but a member of the community.” She also noted that this experience, as well as other community service she’s done through the McKeen Center, have helped her realize her hopes of engaging with the Brunswick community and becoming involved in nonprofits.
Photos by Emily Tong ’11
Common Good Grant Recipients:
Friends of Casco Bay (South Portland) will provide funding for research to assess the threat coastal acidification poses to regional clam flats and the clamming industry.
Mid Coast Hunger Prevention Program (Brunswick) will support the installation of solar powered drip irrigation at the “Tom Settlemire Community Garden.”
Riding to the Top (Windham) will provide funding to increase access for war veterans from the greater Brunswick area to equine assisted activities and therapies.
Riverview Foundation (Topsham) will provide funding for a summer service-learning project, “Construction Junction,” which will install an environmentally friendly outhouse to serve the 162-acre facility.
Sweetser (Saco) will support a transportation program for Brunswick-area clients that lack transportation to and from outpatient appointments.
The Teen Center (Brunswick) will cover the costs of a new bike-building workshop to develop teens’ self-confidence and entrepreneurship skills.
Wolfe’s Neck Farm (Freeport) will support the agriculture-based youth education and work experience program, “Teen Agriculture Crew.”
Common Good Grant Committee Members
· Alexandra Alvarez ’13
· Jeff Cuartas ’15
· Luke Drabyn ’15
· Juliet Eyraud ’16
· Michelle Johnson ’15
· Grace Klein ’13
· Emily Mitchell ’14
· Molly Rider ’15
· Steven Shieh ’13
· Emily Snider ’16
· Jacqueline Uranga ’15
· Eliza Warren-Shriner ’13
· Adrienne Chistolini ’15
· Jordan Lantz ’15
· Miko Lim ’14
· Lewis Salas ’13
· Jacqueline Sullivan ’16
· Erica Swan ’13
· Colin Swords ’15
· Elina Zhang ’16
· Amar Patel ’13 (McKeen Fellow)
· Micah Ludwig ’13 (McKeen Fellow)