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Alumni fund new fellowship to help students engage with local community

By Celia Young

Section: News

September 29, 2017

UPDATED 10/11

Brand new this year, the Rich/Collins Community Leadership and Impact Fellowship (CLIF) is offering Brandeis students the chance to apply for mini-grants between 500 and 5,000 dollars to implement their own community project.

The fellowship aims to build students’ leadership skills while expanding their engagement in the Waltham and Boston communities. Students will plan and apply for a grant in the fall semester and, if selected, will then implement their project in the spring.

CLIF also provides a variety of resources for applicants, including “pre-application support, leadership training and reflection sessions throughout the program as well [as] a final symposium. The program strives to be inclusive and accessible, providing a modest stipend of $500 to a limited number of successful applicants with documented financial need.”

Mariah Rich Collins ’10 and James Collins ’09, an alumni couple, are funding the program and are both working for nonprofits. As students, Mariah worked as a coordinator for the Waltham Group and at the Waltham Kids Club, and James worked in sustainability and was the captain and pitcher for the Brandeis baseball team.

Their inspiration for beginning the program comes from Mariah’s grandparents, Hilda and Hershel Rich, who started a similar program at Rice University of Texas. Hilda Rich was also member of the Brandeis National Committee, and Mariah is continuing her family’s tradition of service and philanthropy to Brandeis with the fellowship.

New to Brandeis, William Brummett, the coordinator for service initiatives at the department for community service, was excited to speak about the new program he was hired to oversee.

Brummett said the Collins’ support will give students “an innovative opportunity to take their ideas for community impact and work to make them a reality in partnership with the local community.”

“In its inaugural year, [the fellowship] provides students a unique opportunity make an incredible community impact and receive enriching leadership development. We hope all students passionate about their community will come by our office, email us and apply for this great opportunity,” said Brummett.

Prior to joining Brandeis, Brummett worked at Carson-Newman University as the student development coordinator. Having been in Waltham for only a month, Brummett was already struck by the student body’s desire to “really work alongside the community and not just for the community,” and their “genuine love of Waltham.”

To be eligible to apply, students must be a sophomore or above at Brandeis, have at least a 2.8 GPA and be on campus during the spring semester to execute the project.

Students must submit an application that outlines their project idea along with a plan to evaluate the project’s impact. A letter of support from the community, a budget proposal and the student’s transcript should are also required. The deadline to apply is Nov. 9 at 11:59 p.m.

The winners of the mini-grants are selected by a group of eight or nine people, including two student representatives, faculty, department of community service staff and university staff. The donors, Mariah Rich Collins and James Collins, will be able to review the applications and will have one combined vote in the selection process.

For further information on the program and how to apply, students should contact William Brummett at RCCliff@brandeis.edu.

CORRECTION: A previous version of this article stated that donors will review applications but will not be part of the selection committee. The donors will have one combined vote.

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