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Applying Common Cents

Unified application will serve to simplify grant process and increase groups’ accountability

By The CRIMSON Staff

Student groups in need of cash will be able to save valuable time and energy this semester, thanks to the Undergraduate Council. A council initiative has created a common, project-based application for student organizations—allowing groups to apply to multiple grant-giving institutions in one fell swoop. Starting this semester, one application can request funds from the Ann Radcliffe Trust, the Office for the Arts, the President’s Public Service Fund and the Student Activities Fund, as well as the council itself. With applications traditionally longer than the council’s, some of these groups, such as the Harvard Foundation for Intercultural and Race Relations, will also request supplementary materials. But the common application will greatly simplify the process for student groups and will allow more effective coordination among the grant-giving institutions.

Last semester, the Council received grant applications from 180 different student organizations, many of which filed separate applications for the other grant-giving groups. The common application removes the time-consuming duplication of information and bureaucracy for many student organizations.

This common-application system was made possible last semester, when the council changed the grant process to a project-based system, which requires student organizations to apply for funding as details of events are finalized. Unlike the semester system, under which student organizations apply for all events scheduled for the semester, the project system put the council in line with the five other grant-giving organizations, allowing the creation of the common application.

The semester plan also promises that the cancellation or the addition of events during the semester would not disrupt the grant application process.

The new grant application system has also increased the accountability on the part of student organizations. Under the semester system, cancellation of scheduled events were common but were difficult to track. As a result, student organizations received funds for events that did not take place. The project-based system makes it easier for grant-giving institutions to track the activity of student organizations and to make them accountable for each project. In addition, the previous lack of coordination has made the grant awarding process difficult, since student groups request funds from multiple sources. As a result, student groups would receive either too little or too much funding for their events. The common application resolves this issue, allowing for coordination between grant-giving institutions, and insures that student groups are able to receive appropriate funds for events.

The design and implementation of the new grant application system began last spring and continued into the summer. The Finance Committee should be lauded for completing the task, which will certainly benefit the student body at Harvard.

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