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Grant program helps graduate students bring research to the community

Funding will support projects fostering outreach and engagement

A new program at The Ohio State University will help graduate students develop research or projects important to their education while making new connections in their community.

The Engaged Scholar Grant incentivizes graduate students to collaborate with a community partner on research or projects that address a specific need or problem within the community. Graduate students may apply for grants ranging from $500 to $1,500.

“The idea really came out of looking at how we can intentionally get graduate students, specifically, more engaged in community development and community outreach,” said DaVonti' Haynes, Council of Graduate Students vice president. “We can not only encourage them to do it, but also try to put some type of financial support behind them to help them undertake some of the research projects that we know they’re doing [without] a lot of direct support.”

The grant program is a partnership with the Council of Graduate Students, the Office of Outreach and Engagement, Office of Student Life, Office of Research and OSU Extension.

“I think it’s really important because we need to make sure that the research we’re doing at Ohio State is applicable at the end. One of the things that we say in the College of Food, Agricultural and Environmental Sciences is that research isn’t done until it’s communicated and applied,” said Jacqueline Wilkins, interim director of OSU Extension. “We need to make sure that what we think might matter in the labs and in our research really resonates with the communities where we’re hoping that they’ll use it and make sense of it.”

The grants may be used to support new projects or expand on existing research tied to community engagement. Grant awardees are required to collaborate with a community partner for their project. Students conducting research or projects in Ohio will be connected to the Extension office in the county where their project is based to collaborate if resources allow.

“We know great research has real-world impact,” said Ryan Schmiesing, vice provost for the Office of Outreach and Engagement. “Our graduate students want to engage with the community and this is one more way that this university can support their learning.”

There are several broad focus areas for the funded projects to explore:

  • Access, Equity and Justice
  • Arts, Communication and Multimedia
  • Children and Families
  • Economic and Community Development
  • Education
  • Food and Agriculture
  • Health, Nutrition and Wellness
  • Sustainability and Environmental Responsibility

“Personally, I’m hoping to see a lot of community development initiatives for our students,” Haynes said. “My hope is they are not just going into the communities doing research, but they’re able to go into those communities and actually interact with and work hands-on with the community and really learn more about the community.”

Wilkins said the grants fit a primary goal for OSU Extension.

“We have been working toward a much more intentional student engagement effort within OSU Extension that will provide opportunities for students of all ages to participate in community-engaged scholarship, service-learning and internships,” she said. “We believe these opportunities can contribute to a reciprocal benefit to the students and to the community.

“An additional bonus for OSU Extension is that these students can grow in their understanding of Extension and translational research and often become lifelong advocates of the land-grant mission in action and often seek employment in Extension or these communities as a result.”

To learn more about the grant program or to apply, go to the Engaged Scholar Grant website.

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