SIPS Board announces first four grant winners

The Board of the Social Innovation and Public Service fund has announced plans to fund social justice and service projects by three students and one organization: Tommy Larson (SFS ’13), Kristin Trivelli (NHS ’14), Tyler Eldridge (SFS ’13), and the Hilltop Microfinance Initiative.

SIPS has approved a total of $14,300 in funding of the $1.25 million it was appropriated last year as a part of SAFE Reform. The mandate of SIPS is to allocate at least $100,000 about $45,000-$65,000 each year to student social justice and service projects. The committee received 25 applications, which, according to SIPS Board members, is a dramatic response from the Georgetown community.

“We were blown away by the initial response to SIPS,” said Tyler Sax (COL ’13), Managing Director of SIPS. “The interest from students and alumni has been outstanding.”

The SIPS Board selected the group of students based on the quality and creativity of the proposals. According to Sax, the central considerations involved the expected impact on the the local and global community, Georgetown’s campus, and the student themselves:

Innovative approaches – Does this project take a new approach to problem solving? How does it attempt to “think outside the box?”
Impact on the Georgetown community – How will this project help to further the culture of public service among Georgetown students?
Impact on the applicant – How will the applicant demonstrate personal growth as a result of becoming a SIPS partner?

Although three of four grant recipients plan overseas trips to serve international communities, the committee did not prioritize international projects over domestic ones. “We have not put an emphasis on international projects,” Sax said. “This is just another indication that Georgetown students are always thinking big and that we truly see ourselves as part of a global community.”

Kristen Trivelli plans to travel to Guwahati, India, where she will aid children with cleft palates working with Comprehensive Cleft CareCenter.

Tyler Eldridge plans to travel to Tamale, Ghana over Christmas break to provide local women the chemicals required to clean water and train them so they can continue to have clean water after he leaves.

A group of Georgetown students, lead by Tommy Larson, will travel to Haiti next semester to build a solar-powered phone charging station with local entrepreneurs.

The Hilltop Microfinance Initiative provides loans to small entrepreneurs across D.C., offers business local consulting, and provides citizenship loans to low-income immigrants. Their SIPS grant will allow HMFI to expand their operations to further encourage economic growth in the District of Columbia.

Eldridge and Trivelli plan to present their experiences to the Georgetown community once they return.

In the coming months, SIPS will focus on assessing and developing future proposals. “We have about 15 projects currently in the pipeline, with more rolling in every week. While most of our energy will be focused on developing those proposals, we will also focus on programming and engaging the SIPS community at Georgetown,” Sax said. “One idea being tossed around is an international development hackathon since we have seen so much interest in that area.”

Editor’s Note: SIPS only spends interest generated off of the SIPS fund, which amounts to about $45,000-$65,000 this year, according to an email from Sax. Vox was looking at old proposals.

3 Comments on “SIPS Board announces first four grant winners

  1. Well as nice as this all sounds, $100,000 a year does not seem remotely sustainable. If they plan to establish and run SIPS as an endowment from which to fund projects in perpetuity they simply cannot distribute that much each year unless they are somehow generating some pretty outsized returns on the money.

    Otherwise SIPS will dissapear in a decade or two. Hopefully the leadership realizes this and takes a more long term view toward sustaining SIPS.

  2. Dear Oh Dear:

    We could not agree with you more. While certain initial conversations used the 100k figure, the SIPS leadership decided that being able to fund projects perpetually would be a far better option. As a result, we use only interest earned on our assets to support student work. This year, we anticipate that number to be somewhere in the 45k-65k range. One of our core goals as a fund is to be a sustainable presence on the Hilltop for many years to come!
    – The SIPS Fund Executive Committee

  3. Good to hear, I was hoping that number was somewhat of a journalistic error by Vox. It would have been a shame for the school otherwise.

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