Open Harvard College Grant


The UC unveils $30K fund.

A $30,000 fund has been allocated by the Dean of the College, the Office of Student Life, and Harvard’s Undergraduate Council to support initiatives addressing the compelling issues of 2016. Initiatives that address mental health, sexual assault and harassment prevention, race relations, and inclusive social life are eligible to apply for a portion of the $30k “Open Harvard College” grant. The Harvard Independent spoke with William Greenlaw ‘17, writer of the grant.

Out of hopes to address the issues prevalent to student life on Harvard’s Campus, the Undergraduate Council has revamped a fund previously underutilized. Since 2014, the Undergraduate Council budgeted $15,000 for “bridging and belonging” initiatives but found that only about $4,000 of this fund was being utilized. The “Open Harvard College” grant is its own fund that hopes to provide students better access to resources previously in place. Through encouragement and openness, Greenlaw hopes that the grant will be able “to empower individual students to innovate and take charge of the problems that they face.”

Greenlaw, who is Chair of the Finance Committee for the Undergraduate Council, spearheaded the revitalizing the “Bridging and Belonging” grant that was previously in place to fund initiatives addressing issues students face on Harvard’s campus. Unlike its predecessor, the grant has received the widespread reception that the raised awareness and emphasis on accessibility for students has sparked discussion about. Students found slips of paper slid under their door to inform them about the grant, alongside the social media campaign set on spreading awareness of the readily available grant application process. This raised awareness reflects the grant’s mission to influence students to discuss the issues currently on campus.

Any student or student group with an idea that will address the compelling interests set in place by the UC’s president and vice president are eligible to submit a proposal. Then, these proposals are assessed through a holistic process that is outside of the typical grant process that had been less accessible to the student body prior to the new grant in place. The Undergraduate Council urges students to “think big,” says Greenlaw, who explains that events and initiatives must have a unique quality about them that goes beyond what is currently in place to talk about the issues. With the hope that many proposals will be submitted for review, the grant will be divvied up to qualifying groups to financially support these initiatives.

The compelling interests being addressed by the grant will help to strengthen Harvard’s campus and student body. A focus on revitalizing the current mental health resources and sparking discussion on campus to remove the stigma associated with the topic has been a growing concern on campus. However, encouraging more collaboration amongst peer counseling groups and making these resources more readily available to all students has helped provide support to more of the Harvard community.

Recently under criticism has also been the issue of race relations at Harvard, particularly with the lack of a multicultural center for students on campus. With the rise in diversity initiatives, the need to foster community and support current students must also be kept a priority. Without providing for its diverse student body and celebrating the cultural backgrounds that exist on campus, Harvard’s community is not as strong as it stands to be. Another way for Harvard to foster community amongst the student body is by providing more inclusive social spaces. The past year has seen the administration’s commitment to providing more inclusivity for all students at Harvard, particularly with Dean Khurana’s focus on establishing better social spaces that welcome all students. This also connects to the fourth tenet to address sexual assault and harassment, which calls for stronger preventative measures and more educating of the student body. By reaffirming the necessity of affirmative consent, even building the concept into a policy to protect students, and by giving more responsibility to bystanders to prevent dangerous situations for their peers, Harvard has become a safer environment for all members of the student body.

Since the “Open Harvard College” grant is a revised version of a prior fund, it will be replenished each year to offer funding to initiatives meeting its mission plan. Greenlaw is “very confident that it’s going to get used,” and looks forward to seeing “$30k worth of projects, programs, and solutions to problems on campus.”


Hunter Richards ’18 ( also looks forward to the efficient allocation of these resources.