Common Good Grant Program Awards $19,500 to Local Non-Profits

Story posted April 26, 2010

Bowdoin students participating in the 2010 Common Good Grant Program have awarded $19,500 to 10 organizations in the greater Brunswick community.

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Pat McCabe of Brunswick Elementary Schools talks with Common Good Grant Committee member Hannah Hoyt '13.

The program provides students the opportunity to learn about philanthropy while becoming familiar with the work and challenges of non-profit organizations in midcoast Maine.

The Common Good Grant Program was established in 2001 by an anonymous Bowdoin alumnus who instituted an annual gift of $10,000 for a 12-member group of Bowdoin students to allocate to local non-profits in the form of grants.

This year, the base of $10,000 was supplemented by $9,500 in funds raised by students on the Common Good Grant Extension Committee.

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Deb Thibodeau of Georgetown Central School receiving the grant from Common Good Grant Committee member Simon Ou '10.

The extra funds raised enabled the student committee to support four additional projects that otherwise would not have been funded.

A total of 36 applications from local organizations were submitted in February and reviewed by the committee in March.

Overall to date, the program has allocated more than $100,000 to fund community projects.

The 2009-2010 Common Good Grant recipients include:

Brunswick Elementary Schools to launch a pedometer program for youth focus on health and wellness.

Brunswick Junior High School Music Boosters to support the music and performance arts at the Junior High School.

Georgetown Central School to purchase a furnace to heat an existing greenhouse that is used to educate students on sustainable nutrition and serve local food pantries with the produce they grow.

Habitat for Humanity of Greater Portland to purchase a high-efficiency boiler for a home in Freeport that will eventually be sold to local low-income family.

Independence Association (Brunswick) to support participation in the Special Olympics.

Midcoast Maine Community Action (Bath) to provide a free tax return assistance project for low-income individuals and families.

The Morris Farm Trust (Wiscasset) to fund a garden project for educational purposes at an adjacent plot at the Wiscasset Primary School.

Oasis Health Network, Inc. (Brunswick) to purchase an EKG testing machine for the Oasis Clinic.

People Plus (Brunswick) to implement Project Win-Win, an initiative to support area elders by providing volunteer program to offer transportation and support services.

Volunteers of America Northern New England, Inc. (Brunswick) to help support Camp POSTCARD, a camp retreat for at-risk youth to connect with law enforcement.

Students participated in a rigorous educational and selection process, meeting weekly throughout the year to learn about philanthropy, non-profit organizational structures, grant writing, fundraising and donor relations.

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Karyn Dickey and Barbara Kaufman of Independence Association receiving their grant from Common Good Grant Committee member Tobi Olasunkanmi '12.

The program concluded Wednesday, April 14, when the students presented checks to recipient organizations at a dessert reception in Main Lounge, Moulton Union.

"Coming to this decision process wasn't easy," says Tobi Olasunkanmi '12, a member of the Common Good Grant Committee.

"My small group was fully aware that ultimately some very deserving grants would have to be turned down and so we focused on a fair selection process rather than purely the outcome — as a bottom line person, this was something to get used to."

"It was great to finally meet the faces behind the grants that we had been reading and discussing for the past couple months," says Grant Committee member Thai Ha-Ngoc '10 of the awards ceremony.

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Wendy Russell and Susan Cole of People Plus receiving their grant from Common Good Grant Committee member Jay Spry '13.

"It was clear to me from the grants, that all these organizations had amazing ideas and missions, but it wasn't until I talked with the representatives I truly understood the passion and commitment from the people behind the scenes."

The Common Good Grant Program is coordinated by the Joseph McKeen Center for the Common Good with volunteer support from community members and administrators in Bowdoin's Office of Development.

The grant application is available each year in mid-November and can be downloaded from the McKeen Center Web site.

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