Knapp creates service fellowship

University President Steven Knapp endowed a $10,000 fund to provide support to students hoping to perform large-scale community service during or after their GW education.

The Knapp Fellowship for Entrepreneurial Service-Learning will be given to undergraduate or graduate students who have shown a determination to bring about change in needy areas of the world, Knapp said.

Knapp said he and his wife Diane were motivated to create the fund after talking to students in informal settings and seeing what he considered to be a unique passion for service work at the University. Knapp has said it is his goal to make community engagement and service a pillar of a GW education.

“Hearing from students I think is one of the things that inspired my wife Diane and me to create the award,” Knapp said. “There’s no question, we would not have gotten to know our students and the extraordinary things they were doing in the service arena.”

Amy Cohen, the executive director of the Center for Civic Engagement and Public Service, said the fellowship will be awarded based on selective criteria.

“Groups of students or individual students may propose a project that has an academic component and makes a substantial and innovative contribution to the identified community to be served,” Cohen said.

Prior to the February deadline, individual students or groups must create a feasible proposal for a service project that could make a contribution to a national or international issue. Cohen said along with the proposal, the applicants must be able to exemplify a commitment to service, have a history of leadership in a community, or demonstrate an independent initiative.

A committee – which includes Cohen and Provost and Executive Vice President for Academic Affairs Steven Lerman – will gather to consider each application and select one or more proposals it feels exemplify the fellowship’s ideals. The selected fellow or fellows will also be assigned to a faculty advisor to help guide him or her to success with the plan.

Cohen said any individual or group is considered for the award, including student service organizations such as Alternative Breaks. The fellowship may also be used to fund efforts in any area of the world.

Lerman said the particular initiative to complete volunteerism both on campus and in the international community was a positive-yet-jarring aspect to be introduced to when he took on the position in July.

“GW students and the faculty and staff all feel an extraordinary obligation to be engaged with the national debates with serving the country and serving the world,” Lerman said. “I think it’s reflected in the enormous participation in things like the Freshman Day of Service, that’s something that strikes you very strongly if you’re not a part of GW.”

Chelsea Radler contributed to this report.

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