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This Year's Community Service Grants
Fatima Sohani

Dozens of Baylor students go to Carver and Westside community service sites every day to tutor and spend time with their scholars, ages 5- 15.

When visiting one of these community service sites, one may notice the cubbies each scholar has or the "reader-of-the-month" frames hanging in the library and wonder who makes all of this possible. Unknown to most, it is the Baylor students involved in community service have the opportunity to write grants.  It's an extensive but rewarding process that allows their ideas to be incorporated into the program. The service grants range from providing additional supplies for the scholars, cabinets at sites, or special outings and scholar showcases.

These some of the grants being implemented this year:  

Ashleigh Huang ‘21, a 2020 Jamaica tripper and member of this year’s R.E.S.P.E.C.T. Leadership Board; Lauren Yim ‘21, another 2020 Jamaica tripper; and Caroline Barker ‘20, also serving on this year’s R.E.S.P.E.C.T. Leadership Board, wrote a grant that will take eighth grade and high school scholars on college tours. “Targeted universities have diverse student bodies and affordable tuition. Students will be able to ask questions, meet other prospective students, and converse with current university students and teachers," said Yim. "A college campus tour is an excellent firsthand experience to begin the conversation about college and discover possibilities that they themselves can pursue.” 

Huang added that she and her grant-writing partners recognized that “not all kids have the means to go on a college tour [out of town], and many of our scholars are first generation college aspirants.”  She “hopes this grant will leave an indelible message that the scholars are capable of going to any college they desire."

Carson Chaplin ‘21, another student serving on the R.E.S.P.E.C.T. Leadership Board, is working on implementing a total of three grants, including an art grant that allows scholars to take a class with art teacher Laura Willett; and a grant that provides each scholar a water bottle filled with candy on their respective birthday.  Along with Evelyn Ludwick ’21 and Taniya Barot ‘20,  Chaplin is also working on a grant that will provide a whiteboard for each room at Westside and Carver. As to why she decided on an art grant, Chaplin responded, “The purpose of my art grant was to provide an opportunity for the scholars. Sharing these lessons is very important to me because learning more about arts and participating in an art class can increase confidence when it comes to school and other activities, as well as help you find a passion or hobby you never knew you had.” Chaplin also noted that the whiteboards, which serve as “a flexible space where we can rotate students accomplishments, and the current college and role model of the month,” have been “an awesome way to showcase the scholars’ work and inspire conversation about college and different role models.”

Ibilola Esho ‘22 is also working on implementing a grant this year concerning a topic not commonly seen in Baylor’s community service grants— natural hair. Esho states that she “had always wanted to provide a way for black girls to learn more about their heritage and unique features,” as Esho’s hair was something she grappled with growing up and she wanted to “make sure [she] encouraged the girls to love and embrace their natural hair.” Esho says that the workshop would work “as a form of self-empowerment and as a life skill that is essential to one’s well-being.” 

Asked to comment on the grant program overall, Esho focused on the impact the grants have on the scholars, remarking, “The grant writing program is one that gives the scholars opportunities, and it allows them to grow as well-rounded leaders ready to serve their community in any way.” Chaplin commented, “The grants that are written to help improve the program are just a little reminder how proud we are of the scholars. If you ever get the chance to write a grant, do it!”


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