Created in 2007 as a way to fund student-run initiatives, RIG has encountered problems in following through on its grants.
Last year, organizers cut funds to inactive projects for the first time, as five initiatives had lapsed, and awarded only $5,000, half of its $10,000 budget. This year, student leaders decided the program, which began when the university approached the three largest student organizations, was not fit to continue.
Students of Georgetown Inc. CEO Lizzy MacGill (COL ’14) said that it was difficult to follow up on the successes and challenges of each initiative.
“Our predecessors in that transition told us that ReImagine Georgetown in the past had been successful in funding some great student projects,” MacGill said. “One of the limitations that they had communicated to us was that to follow through on the projects was really hard because it required the leaders from the biggest organizations on campus to be following up with the recipients of the award throughout their projects, and it’s just hard to do because your hands are full.”
Evan Hollander (SFS ’14), chair of The Hoya’s Board of Directors, said that ReImagine Georgetown did not meet the organizations’ standards.
“These are three organizations with great reputations,” he said. “If they’re putting their reputations on the line, it has to make a real, high-quality impact.”
Georgetown University Alumni and Student Federal Credit Union CEO Chris Kelly (COL ’14) pointed to logistical challenges the added responsibility of RIG created.
“I think the challenge is that you take some of the busiest people on campus, and you add on another responsibility,” he said. “It’s extremely worthwhile, but it was a little difficult to carry out.”
Past RIG success stories include the Georgetown University Farmers Market, established in spring 2011. The Corp and GUASFCU incorporated the project into their philanthropy initiatives, and The Hoya provided marketing and an advertisement avenue.
The representatives of each organization who comprised the RIG committee changed each year, which posed a challenge.
“When the people who are leading these initiatives graduate, you do lose some type of institutional memory,” Hollander said. “You have to make an extra effort for partnerships.”
RIG grants were disbursed with a one-time-only condition, meaning grant recipients could not reapply for funds. Winter Hoyaland received $2,000 last year to furnish Healy Circle with Christmas decorations, and many of the decorations will be reused this year.
“They were full disclosure going into it that it was a one-time grant and they directed me to other grants, like the GUSA grant … there was full disclosure that we couldn’t get more grants,” Winter Hoyaland founder Chris Yedibalian (COL ’13) said.
Short-term initiatives like Illuminate Lauinger, which received $1,000 to add artwork and other decoration to Lauinger Library, have found success through RIG, even if they have not yet followed through entirely.
The Corp and GUASFCU plan to reallocate their funds from RIG to other grants and scholarships.
GUASFCU introduced a test preparation grant this year that provides free tutoring for graduate school entry standardized tests and plans to add a summer school scholarship. The Corp is currently unsure of how it will reallocate its funds.
“We take our philanthropy pretty seriously,” MacGill said. “We give about $60,000 back to the community. We felt like we could do more by using that money to create a new scholarship, maybe even one that funds a particular aim that we’re trying to accomplish this year.”
Despite the discontinuation of RIG, Kelly stressed the importance of creativity and innovation on campus.
“There’s always a ton of room, especially at Georgetown, for funding for innovation. I think right now we’re kind of in a rebuilding phase,” Kelly said. “Whether or not we team up again with The Corp remains to be seen, but at this point we’re just trying to figure out what didn’t work and move from there.”
Hoya Staff Writer Mallika Sen contributed reporting.