In January of 2018, I came across an initiative started by Cecelia (@ceciatl) on Twitter encouraging women to apply for a personally-sponsored grant.
The application form read:
This form is for a mini-grant of $1,500. It is open to all women and there are no limitations on the kinds of goals or projects it can be used for! Please take advantage of the opportunity to upload any files or information relevant to your submission- I am expecting to receive entries for projects in all states of completion so please dont be shy!
I was so inspired.
Cecelia had also included an email to field questions about getting involved. Motivated to put my privilege to work, I sent an email expressing my desire to help fund the submissions. Direct cash transfers are an incredibly powerful tool that more of us should employ.
Cecelia worked with me after the submissions closed, and I ultimately decided to contribute four smaller grants of $500 each.
Here are some excerpts from their submissions:
I am a former comedian who currently works as a trauma therapist. I created a non profit that uses improv comedy as a form of therapy for children suffering from trauma, acute, chronic and terminal illness.
We have held workshops in Malawi Africa with women and children suffering from illness and HIV AIDS. We recently returned from the Syrian border where we worked with traumatized, displaced refugees using improv comedy and therapeutic grief and loss group work. We plan to hold workshops on the south side of Chicago for adolescent victims of gun violence…
This grant would allow us to help with transportation for South side youth to get to and from our workshops as well as cover the cost for volunteer training for upcoming comedy tour.
Learn more about Hope’s work.
I live in Medellín Colombia and this is a city that is very dangerous for women and I have been given for almost 2 years free self defense classes too many girls (cis and trans). My goal is to have a place that is fully equipped with the tools that we need to train, this will help us to improve our level and also to have a more secured clases.
[I’ll use this grant for] paying for the stuff that we need to train properly.
Learn more about Luu’s work.
I’m an English Professor at UMass Boston who volunteered to teach Introductory Comp at the Suffolk County House of Corrections at South Bay. We’re trying to make this a permanent program, but in the meantime I said “Let’s just start and see what happens; I’ll do this for free.”
Every week now I am taking in handouts and they are reading, annotating, summarizing, analyzing, and imitating poems and stories and articles I bring in. They are already crushing it, even in-text citation, which drives every freshman comp student crazy. And they are doing it without computers, in exam books–those little blue books—with pencils they have to turn back in at the end of the class.
[This grant] would help me keep buying notebooks and textbooks and dictionaries for my incarcerated students, and compensate me a little for my time. More importantly, it would help me draw attention to the program from the Sheriff’s office and the university, so that ultimately this program becomes a class we offer every term, paying the same salary that non-tenure track instructors make teaching comp on campus.
Learn more about Jill’s work.
I am currently working towards my PhD in Biology at Drexel University in Philadelphia. My goal is to study the impacts of climate change on the mating behaviors of American pollinators which I hope will help us better protect them from decline. If we understand how mating and reproduction in bees are affected by climate change, we can better understand total population declines.
I am lacking some of the scientific equipment I need to do the work - and am also stressed by the expense of renting a car to get to and from the field site while I am out there (about $1000 for the month) on top of paying for travel and stay.
Having my own equipment, and being able to save some money this year to be put towards my field season next year (I anticipate needing to go for three separate seasons to gather enough data) would tremendously relieve the stress I am feeling about financially supporting my own research initiatives on a PhD salary.
Learn more about Meghan’s work.
These women are incredible. There were also so many other fantastic projects that I could not sponsor, but I’m hoping other volunteers were able to step up.
Meanwhile, Cecelia has continued this amazing work with the Open Call for Pitches from Women. You can also get involved by learning more about and supporting the original grant recipient’s project or starting your own mini grant.