If you are considering applying for a Richter grant this year, the competition may be a bit stiffer than in the past. This past November, a campus-wide email was sent to students regarding the changes to the Richter Grant and application process due to a decrease in funding.
According to Mariangela Maguire, the interim director of the Vovis Center, 2014 is not the first year Knox has received fewer funds. In fact, in the past three years, Knox has seen a decrease in money from the Richter Memorial Trust. This year has the lowest trust amount by far.
“We felt we had to be straightforward with students that circumstances had changed. When I first came to Knox, what people said to me about Richter funding was that there was a lot of money and that we funded a whole lot of things. And that was a great thing. It’s just that those resources aren’t the same anymore and we have to make decisions about how we will choose who gets Richter funding.”
In Maguire’s email she explained that Knox received about $20,000 less than last year, when they received about $20,000 less than the year before that.
The Vovis Center recommends that applicants this year obtain a letter of recommendation from a faculty member to strengthen their application. With the reduction in total funding, it is even more important that a thoughtful application is submitted rather than an exploration of ideas or themes. A letter provides an outside source a chance to critique the quality of the proposed project and a chance to comment on its relevance.
Although the amount of funds has changed, the grant priorities to subsidize projects and research have not. Honors projects remain the first priority, with summer projects taking a close second. As always, details are important: Part of the fund dispersion process involves a carefully planned budgeting requiring awarded students to submit receipts and retail pricing to legitimize the process. In addition to budgeting, it is important for awarded students to supply the reasons why things need to be obtained.
“If you are requesting funding to purchase books, explain why you need to own the book rather than obtain it through interlibrary loan. Going forward, the maximum request for book purchases will be $250,” Maguire said in an email to campus.
It seems that a more competitive Richter looms in the future. Maguire hopes that the reduced funding and stricter application process will not deter students from applying. Unlike the other 14 schools that receive money from the trust, there is a great variety in the ways funds are used here at Knox. In the past students have applied for a Richter Grant to fund art supplies, conference travel, Model UN travel and also housing fees for summer projects.
Junior Brad Musselman says that his experiences with Richter his freshman year have led him to where he is now. He thinks that the changes are unfortunate, but strives to see a positive side.
“I think it will shy some students away. I feel like the Richter was a go-to for most students. On the other hand, making it more competitive may be best for the school as [they will pick] projects based on maximum priority,” he said.
As for other options, senior Bruce Kovanen recommends outside sources.
“There really isn’t [many outside sources] … for the most part Richter is the fund to use. Either that or maybe people need to explore outside grants more often. … For some of the conferences I’m planning to go to, they do offer travel grants. I want to try to combine, mix and match,” Kovanen said. “I think this is the direction we’ll have to move in if we continue to sustain this interest in student research and funding it.”
In regards to the future of the Richter fund, Maguire mentioned another change — individual colleges that receive funding will have to submit a grant application for funds. Not only will there be competition among students for funding, but among the other schools. Previously, the trust funded 15 schools ranging from small liberal arts schools such as Hanover College in Indiana to big name schools like Yale University.