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2011 News Releases

Longwood Parents Council awards nearly $9,500 in grants to 17 student-related projects

February 18, 2011

Patrick and Joan Finnegan with members of the Parents Council Members of the Parents Council with Longwood President Patrick Finnegan and his wife, Joan

The Longwood University Parents Council has awarded nearly $9,500 in grants to 17 projects that will benefit and enhance student life and learning.

The projects include a carnival for Prince Edward County children with disabilities organized by students in the College of Business & Economics, the purchase of manikins for the Academic and Career Advertising Center to demonstrate appropriate attire for students entering the work force, books for pen pals, and safe transportation for students to attend sporting events at the Athletics Complex.

This is the second consecutive year that the Parents Council has awarded grants of up to $2,000, which are funded by the Council members' annual gifts (a minimum of $500 per family). The Parents Council received 21 grant proposals from students, student organizations, faculty and staff. Some six grants were fully funded, and 11 were partially funded. The grant application project is coordinated through the Office of First Year Experience.

"I was very excited with the number and variety of applications received this year," said Stacey Wilkerson, assistant director of First Year Experience, who is a member of the Parents Council Planning Team. "The Council received and funded proposals that encompass academic achievement, humanitarian efforts, citizen leadership, and Lancer pride."

One grant will pay for staff to keep Greenwood Library open extra hours during final exams, and another will support the Big Event, an annual service-learning event in the spring that involves the community and an increasing number of students. Both of these efforts were also funded by Parents Council grants last year.

Also awarded this year were grants that provide funding for the speaker for this year's Martin Luther King Jr. Symposium; an alcohol and tobacco education speaker for incoming new students during New Lancer Days; two road trips for students to discover internship and job opportunities; expenses for students to attend two conferences of professional organizations; the addition of a fourth sculpture in the Brock Commons Outdoor Sculpture Program; a program to raise awareness of and to stop violence against women; and the Lancer Pride T-Shirt Swap.

The Parents Council grants funding for programs, events and projects that are "student-focused and contribute to academic achievement, citizen leadership, and/or university enhancement," Wilkerson said. The grants are open to the university community including faculty, students, student organizations, and departments.

Last year the Council awarded nearly $8,000 for 11 projects, chosen from among 16 proposals, of which seven were fully funded, while four were partially funded. One of those grants funded the screening of the film Hotel Rwanda and a campus talk by Paul Rusesabagina, the Rwandan hotel keeper whose heroic actions inspired the film.

In the grant process, organizations must submit a written proposal by Oct. 1 and make a presentation to the Council on the third Saturday in October. Each member has an opportunity to review the proposals prior to presentation day. Grant applicants have from Nov. 30, when the grants are awarded, until Oct. 1 of the following year to spend their grant money, and they are invited to present at the Parents Council meeting in September on the outcome of their project.

"The Parents Council grants process provides a full-circle learning experience for Longwood students," Wilkerson said. "They learn about grant writing, presenting, budgeting requirements, and evaluative data collection."

The Parents Council, formed in January 2009, is currently made up of 19 active families. Members are appointed by the president after submitting an application form. They remain with the Council until their student graduates, when they may become active or inactive emeritus members.

The chair family is Liz and Sel Harris of Virginia Beach (daughter Elizabeth '11), and the chair-elect family is Emily Pilk (son Patrick '10 and daughter Grace '12). Other members of the Parents Council Planning Team, in addition to Stacey Wilkerson, are Cricket Gicz Morris, director of Annual Giving; Sarah Whitley, director of First Year Experience; and Dr. Ken Perkins, interim vice president for academic affairs.

"In my 27 years here, the Parents Council is one of the most exciting initiatives that I've seen this university pursue," said Perkins, who worked with the first families in creating the organization. "It's a great partnership, and it's very healthy and very timely. These grants are one of the major purposes the Council was formed. There is a lot of student involvement in the grants, which is very heartening to see. The students are well prepared in their presentations to the Council."