Recipes for community service: For best results, add Action Fund

By Mina Tehrani

Have a community project in mind, but not enough funds and support to carry it out?Macalester’s Action Fund provides up to $500 for student-initiated and -led projects that collaborate with people in the community to educate and take action on community issues.

The Action Fund was started four years ago by Macalester alumni who had had positive service experiences while at Macalester, and wanted to promote a legacy of service after graduating.

Since 2001, students have carried out around fifty projects, according to fund administrator Eily Marlow. They have ranged from working with African entrepreneurs in the Twin Cities to AIDS awareness campaigns to sending used books to Honduras.

“This is a wonderful way for students to give to the community, not only with their creative ideas, but also with financial support,” Marlow said.

Funding is typically used for supplies, transportation, food, speakers, and other necessities. (No, grant recipients do not get paid.)

Grant proposals are reviewed by a committee of alumni, professors, and students. The committee also provides advice to those seeking grants and ongoing support to students carrying out their projects.

Many past participants have used their grants to add to projects that they were already involved in, but the only real requirement for applying for funding is a strong passion for a community issue.

Though it is possible to take action on your own, “with the funding, it’s just so much easier and faster,” Marlow said. “Students should really take advantage of this under-utilized opportunity.”

Are you interested in the Action Fund, but can’t imagine what kind of project you would undertake?

I asked, “What would Eily Marlow do?”

“Because I’ve worked so much with the HIV/AIDS community, I would probably do a project taking patients outside on service trips or excursions,” she said.

You’re not encouraged to steal her idea, but you can follow her example to make a project out of your involvement and passions.

You might make a lasting difference.
This year’s deadline for project proposals is next Wednesday, Oct. 10.

For more information, go to the Action Fund website, or e-mail marlow @ macalester . edu.