Story posted April 18, 2012
Bowdoin students distributed $17,825 in Common Good Grants among nine local nonprofits this year. The donations will help pay for a range of projects, including a new community garden in Brunswick and additional chairs to seat the growing number of people who receive a free weekly meal in Bath.
Since 2001, students have been supporting community organizations through the Common Good Grant program, which is funded annually with $10,000 by an anonymous donor. The program gives students the opportunity to learn about foundations and philanthropy while becoming familiar with the work of nearby nonprofits.
Starting in 2004, students began raising additional donations to increase their purse. For this cycle they raised $7,825 extra from alumni and local citizens, and considered 27 grant proposals.
To participate in the Common Good Grant program, up to 21 students are selected every fall to sit on either the Grant Committee, which oversees the grant process and awards the funds, or the Development Committee, which raises money. The committees meet weekly throughout the year, and are advised by Bowdoin staff from the McKeen Center and Development office, as well as by local nonprofit leaders. In April, the process culminates with the awarding of grants.
The following are a few observations made by students on the grant process:
Danielle Orchant '14, Development Committee, described the year-long program as "a nonprofit crash course to learn how nonprofits work."
Miko Lim '14, Grant Committee, said he joined the program "to give back to the community and meet new students and friends," and in the process, "learned how much need there is in the community."
Tom Marcello '12, Grant Committee, said he not only learned about the needs of the community but was glad to "see so many organizations and people coming together to solve those needs."
For a full list of Common Good Grant students, click here.
American Cancer Society, Topsham: $1,764 to expand its Road to Recovery gas card initiative and volunteer-driver recruitment program to rural areas. The program helps transport cancer patients to medical clinics and doctors.
Bath Housing Development: $2,448 to support its Life Balance Project, which provides classes to increase the physical, social and mental stimulation of elderly residents.
Brunswick-Topsham Land Trust: $2,500 will support the launch of a community garden at Crystal Spring Farm. The garden has 65 public plots for a diverse group of gardeners that includes the elderly and those with limited financial means.
Center for Therapeutic Recreation, Portland: $2,500 to provide additional swimming classes to children with disabilities who are on the aquatic program’s waiting list.
Neighborhood Café, Bath: $613 will fund the purchase of tables and chairs to expand the capacity for the organization's weekly community events on Tuesday evenings.
Tedford Housing, Brunswick: $2,500 to cover the cost of expanding outreach case management for adults and families who are turned away from the shelter because lack of space.
Tri-County Literacy, Bath: $1,500 to purchase more textbooks and new-reader dictionaries for adult literacy classes. One in five Mainers cannot read or has difficulty reading.
Volunteers of America, Brunswick: $2,500 will expand the CA$H Coalition Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program to reach more people who are eligible for a low-income tax credit.
Women, Work and Community, Bath: $1,500 will cover the cost of starting a workshop series, “Where the Jobs Are,” for unemployed adults.