Grant boost for student groups

by Heather L. Mueller

The Student Activities Office is offering $25,000 more in event grants this year, but some students say they’re not offering what’s really needed – information on how to get them.

The Student Services Fees Committees and Student Activities Office reallocated an additional $25,000 in student services fees to the Events Partnership Grant for the 2006 school year. The event grant now totals $75,000.

The grant funds programs, activities or special events that involve the partnering of two or more registered student groups. The application process is done online and requires a brief explanation of what the event will be.

Each partnering group that doesn’t receive money from student services fees can apply for up to $1,000 for the event. Each group is limited to $3,000 annually for the grant.

In 2004, the grant awarded about $55,000 for 37 separate events involving 124 groups, according to Margaret Cahill, Student Activities Office senior student activities adviser.

Event grants cannot be used for events serving alcohol, that are partisan-affiliated, in honor of students, faculty of staff or that are recurring. The grants may not be used for full-event funding, start-up costs or revenue-generating events, according to the office.

Management information systems senior Daniel Moshe, president of Friends of Israel, said his group often receives adequate Student Activities Office grant funding but would like more information to be offered.

“They should tell you why (you were denied the grant) so you can go work on it and make it better,” he said. “We get turned down and we’re like, ‘OK, thanks a lot.’ “

Moshe said grant amounts and how often they can be received are also limiting.

Chemical engineering graduate student Zeeshan Syedain, vice president of the Pakistani Student Association, received grant funding this fall for a Ramadan Iftar event. The association, which doesn’t receive student services fees funds, and three partnering groups received $1,500 total.

Syedain said the office is a good resource for student groups.

“I think SAO advisers normally can help you out with (grant applications) in terms of how you should write them and how much you should apply for and things like that,” he said.

Syedain said while the application standards and deadlines help students be more organized, they can limit the date an event can be hosted.

For instance, grants must be submitted 30 days before the event, which Syedain said made back-to-school events difficult.

“You just can’t have it because the way the grant deadline is set up,” he said. “You have to go beyond the first weekend and there’s no earlier grant.”

Cahill said the association continues to work with groups to provide grants.

“We advertise during our registration session with each of the groups. All the advisers are aware of (the grants) and are familiar with the process and encourage groups to utilize them,” she said.

Finance and non-profit management junior Eric Larsen, president of Students Today Leaders Forever, said the event grant funded the group’s Fill the Bus event.

“I don’t think we’ve ever received the full amount, but we’ve always received a good portion of what we’ve requested,” he said.

Larsen said his group used the new online application process, but ran into a glitch. He tried to enter the total allotment of $3,000 but said the system wouldn’t allow it.

“It came back as an error and told me I could only apply for $1,000,” Larsen said.

Larsen said the Student Activities Office offers grant-writing workshops and helps groups with the process, but aren’t as outreaching as they could be for the grants process.

He went to the office to inquire about the TCF grant but didn’t receive any help.

“I think if they had more links, if they had something that advertised there’s grants outside the SAO, that would be more helpful as well Ö because there’s other (grants) very few people know about,” he said.

Liberal studies graduate student Hindolo Pokawa, secretary of the African Student Association, said the group was unaware of the online grant application process change made this year or what grants are offered through the office beyond the student fees grant.

“We are not informed. There’s no communication in terms of, ‘OK well here’s what we can do,’ or, ‘Here are a couple of options,’ ” he said.