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WSC begins new internal grant program

WESTFIELD A new internal grant program at Westfield State College (WSC) has awarded funds to four projects that involve partnerships with area organizations to deal with challenges facing our region.

The projects address community planning, environmental education, improving writing skills and helping youths bridge the gap between high school and college.

WSC President Vicky L. Carwein initiated the grant program to encourage new projects that have the potential to strengthen both the college and surrounding communities. The grant program is titled the I3 Fund. I3 stands for "Innovate, Initiate and Inspire."

The four projects were selected out of 21 proposed by WSC staff and faculty for the July 1, 2005 to June 30, 2006 funding period.

The projects and awards include the Center of Community Planning, proposed by Stephanie Kelly, professor and acting chair in the Department of Geography and Regional Planning, $40,000.

The Center creates a partnership with the Massachusetts Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD) to develop a certification program for municipal officials who administer community development block grants.

The state has budgeted $150,000 over two years to support this certification program. The project is seen as a model of academic/state planning partnership for community planning.

The Bridge Project and Summer Scholars Program, proposed by Kamal Ali, assistant dean in the Office of multi-cultural development, Robert Bristow, acting dean of Academic Affairs, and Jon Conlogue, director of Residential Life, is also funded through the grant in the amount of $66,000.

The two-pronged program will focus on offering ethnically diverse students from various social and economic backgrounds a college transition experience to help them succeed in college.

The Westfield River Environmental Center, proposed by David A. Doe, professor and chair in the Biology Department, will receive $51,800.

The environmental center will bring together WSC students, faculty, surrounding K-12 schools, community members, and local organizations for the purpose of better understanding the interactions between people and the environment of the Westfield River Watershed.

The WSC Write program, proposed by Beth Rothermel, associate professor and chair of the English Department, will receive $36,500.

The program establishes a teaching network that draws on faculty and community collaboration to improve literacy and writing skills among students.