By Greg Laudani, Staff Writer

S. Melvin Rines, ’47, has established the University of New Hampshire Emeriti Council Student International Service Initiative Grant (EC SISI). The goal is to inspire more students to assist communities in need all over the world.

Selected groups will receive between $2,000-10,000 from the Emeriti Council, depending upon the quality and merit of the proposals.

“We really wanted to increase the number of student groups who want to donate their time to these kinds of projects,” Rines said.

The EC SISI’s application process is intended to be concise and to focus students on the ideas behind their projects, and not just be about writing a massive, intimidating proposal. Co-chairman of the Emeriti Council, David Ellis, emphasizes the wonderful opportunity this grant presents to students, making it more manageable to travel abroad to help people in need.

“This is not something where you have to write a 10-page paper,” Ellis said. “If you give something, you will be amazed at how much you get back. This grant is meant to generate that value to young people, because it will stay with them for life.”

Applicants, accompanied by a faculty leader, are required to write a description of no longer than four pages that addresses how the project intends to fulfill the grant’s criteria. Proposals will be judged based on their ability to answer questions related to what the long-term benefits of the project will be and how organized their plan is to carry out the project.

“We hope that once we get projects moving, the enthusiasm for raising money will become more focused on particular projects as they emerge,” Rines said.

The Emeriti Council will provide funding, but also require student groups to raise money to pay for some of the project’s costs.

Oct. 15 is the application deadline for groups to schedule their trip for winter break or January Term. Applications for projects desired next summer are due March 15. The Emeriti Council and UNH’s Center for International Education will review all applications.

“This is an opportunity for students to take an idea and run with it,” Ellis said.

Rines’s inspiration to establish the EC SISI challenge grant came from a presentation done last fall by UNH Engineers Without Borders, a student non-profit organization on campus that performs international service projects.

The group, led by members Ian Gagnon, Amy Johnson, Annie Sager, Maddie Ball and Professor Tom Ballestero, presented their work disinfecting wells in Lukodi, Uganda to improve the quality of the community’s drinking water.

Engineers Without Borders encouraged the board to support all student organizations doing service projects in developing areas of the world. The group also made a significant impression on Rines, who soon took action to initiate the grant.

“We [Emeriti] thought the maturity of the presentation was terrific,” Rines said. “We loved that the group wants to get more students thinking about helping people in need, and it made us think about assisting these kinds of trips.” 

The presentation also inspired several other members of the UNH Foundation Emeriti Directors, UNH Foundation Directors and the Alumni Association Board to give “on the spot,” according to Morgan Dudley Naughton, UNH’s director of principal gifts at the Elliott Alumni Center.

Ellis admired the group for its humanitarian nature and willingness to serve others. The Emeriti co-chairman said that the group’s common interest in service trips is a result of the camaraderie of its members.

“You could just see how this was something that had grown within the people because of the joint effort of it,” Ellis said. “Some young people aren’t as likely to take hold of something, but to have the chance to learn it in a group is sometimes a way to help those who are less likely to become more likely.”

With financial support from the Emeriti Council’s grant, the Center for International Education is excited about the new opportunities out there for more student groups to take action.

“There is money out there for you to do this work,” said Assistant Director of the Center for International Education Gregg Orifici. “We hope the grant will help us reach more faculty who can develop international service components to their classes; and that will encourage student groups that there is a fund that could help them do an international service trip.”