Backing up the college’s requirement that all students take part in experiential learning, every Knox student starting with the 2021 class will have access to a $2,000 grant to support internships, creative projects, research and study abroad opportunities.
This new funding, called the “Power of Experience” grant, is part of the larger 2018 Strategic Plan which began development three years ago.
Though students have had the opportunity to receive funding for research, creative projects and study abroad with programs like Richter Grants and Knox-Mellon Fellowships, these programs have a limited amount of funding and therefore can only help so many students.
Though talks of this type of grant have been ongoing for some time now, the pieces finally came together to make it happen for students joining the college this upcoming fall.
“We wanted to make [these experiences] more evenly available, and available for everyone, and a part of every student’s experience,” Paul Steenis, Dean of Admissions, said. “The funding comes from a variety of places, some comes from existing pots of money that we’ve been using for a period of time.”
The funding is intended to broaden the kinds of projects and internships students can pursue. For example, many internships are unpaid and this could give students the opportunity to take an unpaid internship and not have to worry less about forgoing a paid job.
The Office of Admissions in recent years has stressed the benefits of experiential learning to prospective students and their parents, as an opportunity to take what is done in the classroom and apply that to real-world situations.
“I think the Power of Experience grant will help us to underscore that, as we’re talking to families, that this will be a part of their student’s experience,” Steenis said. “And in fact, there’s money not just for some students, but for all students to help make that possible. This is just one more way for us to make sure that families understand when they come to Knox that it’s an important part of who we are, and what your experience will be.”
As of now, the directors of the four Alumni Hall centers are working with Dean of the College Laura Behling and Vice President of Student Development Anne Ehrlich to discuss the structures of the program and what will and won’t be funded. There will most likely be an application process, in which students would propose what they want to use their grant for.
“We’ve only really had preliminary conversations at this particular point, but I think there’s a lot of good ideas on the table,” Behling said. “Through the next year we’ll have a really good sense of exactly what that program is going to look like.”
Something that is being carefully considered is off-campus study and study abroad, as other programs, like Mellon, cannot be used for international expenses. Behling believes that the Power of Experience grant will likely come into play concerning study abroad related expenses, such as international plane tickets, passport costs and cost of living expenses.
“We’re at a really early stage in figuring this out, but I think that there are some real needs when students want to study abroad that aren’t about paying tuition,” Behling said. “So that’s the kind of stuff we’ll look for, to try to be as supportive as we can for students.”
Students starting in the fall of 2017 will be able to tap their Power of Experience money during their junior or senior year at Knox or the summer preceding either their junior or senior years.