Radcliffe Trust Issues First Round of Grants

In its first round of grants this year, the Ann Radcliffe Trust awarded 17 grants totaling $6,350 to groups that are planning projects dealing with women’s issues on campus. The amount is the largest the Trust has distributed in a single round yet.

“As a whole, the requests have been more reasonable this year,” said Trust Director Karen E. Avery ’87, noting that more than $26,000 was requested in the first round of grants last year.

The Trust distributes about $20,000 a year in grant money, a large portion of which comes from what has been a yearly $50,000 gift from the Radcliffe Institute of Advanced Study.

Several of the projects funded this round are new, including three proposed by Women in Color (WINC), a group formed last spring to explore the intersection of race, gender and class on campus. One of WINC’s projects is the preparation of a show written and performed by female and minority undergraduates.

Other projects that the Trust gave money to are a “Road to Success” panel sponsored by the Association of Black Harvard Women and a sexual orientation summit for Girlspot members.

The announcement of the grant recipients yesterday comes after a fall 2001 report on undergraduate women’s initiatives at Harvard, released in September through the College Dean’s office that called for a greater role for the Trust.

“Women’s groups at Harvard College need more support; and some feel they need a literal or figurative women’s center at the wheel [after the merger of Radcliffe College with Harvard],” the report’s conclusion reads. “The Ann Radcliffe Trust in Harvard College was developed as a strong resource for women’s groups, and the Trust can help groups break out of the reinventing cycle.”

Avery said she sees the awarding of grants as one major way in which the Trust can develop its relationship with women undergraduates. She said she would eventually like to see the Trust’s level of grant-giving reach that of the Harvard Foundation for Race and Intercultural Relations. The Foundation gave out about $40,000 in grants last year to groups aiming to improve racial awareness and understanding on campus.

“If you poll students they tend not to know what the Ann Radcliffe Trust is but do know about the Foundation,” Avery said. “But they have 25 years on us, give us some time!”

The application deadline for the next round of grants will occur at the end of this month, with new grant winners to be chosen in December.

The third and final round will occur in February for the spring semester. Avery said she would eventually like the Trust to move to a once-a-semester system, like the Foundation’s.

While some leaders of campus women’s groups question whether the Trust can or should even attempt to assume a position as the center of undergraduate women’s activities, the Trust has nonetheless begun attempts to increase its visibility on campus.

Besides launching a revamped website, the Trust tabled at the first-year extracurricular fair for the first time last September. It also door-dropped information about its offerings to first-years and kicked off its series of lectures in September with a speech by Drew Gilpin Faust, dean of the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study.

The Trust has also increased by one the number of students serving on its faculty-student advisory committee, which accepts students on an open application process.

—Staff writer Juliet J. Chung can be reached at jchung@fas.harvard.edu.