MSA Grants Committee budget decreases

The committee gives out about 100 individual grants to fund student group events.

Audience members during a MSA forum on Tuesday, Feb. 6.

Maddy Fox

Audience members during a MSA forum on Tuesday, Feb. 6.

by Maraya King

Funding for student group event grants has been cut in half over the last two years at the University of Minnesota.

The Minnesota Student Association’s Grants Committee is offering $45,000 in grants this year for over 800 student groups.

Grants Committee Director Carl Thon said the budget has decreased significantly in the past couple years. In 2016, MSA had $90,000 for grants and had $60,000 for grants in 2017, Thon said.

Each year, MSA submits a cumulative budget request, which includes the funding for the Grants Committee. The decrease in funds is the result of internal cuts being made, not from a lack of funds from the Student Services Fees, Thon said. 

By decreasing the budget, the grants committee is narrowing their focus toward the purpose of the student group rather than funding nonessential needs, he said.

Adam Leligdon, a member of the committee, said there are four types of grants that groups can apply for: initiative, event, supply and the newest option, sustainability grants. 

The committee found that a large portion of funding was going toward food, apparel and other nonessential items, therefore creating the need for a supplies-dedicated grant, Thon said. 

The committee meets once every two weeks to go over requests and assess the state of the budget. 

“It is not a selection based on what the club is, it’s more that their budget makes sense and fits our guidelines,” Leligdon said of the recipients. 

Erin Nakagaki, initiative grants coordinator, said for requests to be considered, they must fall under one of the pillars of MSA: sexual assault awareness, mental health, civic engagement or diversity and inclusion. 

The initiative grants receive a large portion of the overall funding and are ultimately decided by the executive board if the requested amount is over $900, Nakagaki said. 

For example, a recent initiative grant funded by MSA last fall went to the Latino International Student Association for hurricane relief in Latin America, she said. 

The sustainability grant, the newest addition to the lineup, is part of a larger effort to create an eco-friendly campus, Thon said. 

“Our University does a phenomenal job of making it easy for student groups to host zero-waste events,” he said. 

The Grants Committee disperses roughly 100 individual grants each academic year, and has given out 65 thus far. 

Student groups can apply for a grant on MSA’s website.

Correction: A previous version of this article misidentified the name of a member of the Grants Committee. It is Adam Leligdon.