Funding the Common Good: Students Award Grants to Nine Nonprofits

Originally 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.

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The 2011-2012 Common Good Grant student team, with McKeen Center Director Susie Dorn (far left) and Caitlin Callahan, assistant director for the McKeen Center (far right).

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.

The Common Good Grant Process

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.

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