College students with a yen for adventure have until January 12th to apply for fellowships through the Michael P. Metcalf Memorial Fund at the Rhode Island Foundation.

The Foundation will give Rhode Island residents up to $7,000 to pursue self-designed enrichment projects that include travel. Over the years, the fund has awarded fellowships to more than 100 students to visit sites ranging from Appalachia to Zaire. Past recipients have performed at a classical music festival in Rome, done a medical internship in Tanzania and volunteered at a Costa Rican orphanage.

Margaret-Amelia Crook received $4,440 to participate in the GoEco.org’s summer Wildlife Cat Sanctuary Program in South Africa. The University of Rhode Island business major’s daily activities included chores like feeding, cleaning and spending quality time with the animals.

“The biggest shock for me was when one volunteer mentioned that we had the opportunity to spend the night with a cheetah. Zena was rescued from a family who kept her as a pet and therefore she is unable to regulate her own body temperature. At night, she either sleeps with the project leaders or two volunteers,” Crook remembered.

“Sleeping with Zena was like sleeping with a dog-sized cat; she purred, cuddled and gave kisses. Although it was amazing being with her, the whole reason why we had the chance was because she was taken from the wild,” Crook said.

The Fund’s goal is to broaden student perspectives and enhance personal growth. Permitted uses include travel in this country and abroad as well as participation in internship and public service programs. Grants cannot be used for standard semester-abroad programs or for post-graduate travel.

Applicants can attend out-of-state colleges and universities, but must be legal residents of Rhode Island. Grants are not intended for purchase of equipment or other capital expenses. Applications must include a thorough description of the proposed activities, demonstrate clear purpose and show financial need.

Criteria for evaluating applications include clarity and thoughtfulness, creativity, motivation, evidence of self-direction and initiative and financial need. At the conclusion of their project, recipients must submit a final report describing the value of their experience in furthering their long-term goals.

The Metcalf Fund was established in 1989 to honor the late publisher of the Providence Journal. When she helped establish the Fund, Metcalf’s widow Charlotte explained, “I wanted to create an opportunity that was a departure from the usual scholarship. I thought of making wonderful experiences – transforming experiences – happen for others.”

The Christine T. Grinavic Adventurer’s Fund supplements the Metcalf awards. The fund honors the memory of Grinavic, a University of Rhode Island graduate and 2001 Metcalf Fellowship winner who was lost at sea in 2007.

The Rhode Island Foundation is the largest and most comprehensive funder of nonprofit organizations in Rhode Island. Through leadership, fundraising and grantmaking activities, often in partnership with individuals and organizations, the Foundation is helping Rhode Island reach its true potential. For more information about applying for a Metcalf Fellowship, visit rifoundation.org.

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