Abbot Grants Fund 23 Projects for Winter Term

As Andover begins to brace itself for the biting winds and shorter days of winter term, the community can look forward to new sound systems for student a cappella groups, a new art exhibition in the Gelb Gallery, cluster flags and an interscholastic science fair this Winter Term.

These initiatives are just a few of the many projects funded by the Abbot Academy Association for the winter and spring of 2012.

On November 16, the Abbot Academy Association awarded a total of $253,453 to 23 different projects created by the Phillips Academy community. 30 groups initially applied for grants.

The total sum awarded by the Abbot Academy was a significant increase from the $180,953 that the Academy awarded last spring.

According to Natalie Schorr, Abbot Academy Association Coordinator and Instructor and Interim Chair in French, the Association awarded funding to many long-term grants, which may have caused the dramatic increase in funds allotted this fall.

Raj Mundra, Instructor in Biology, received the largest grant, securing funds for Niswarth, a three-week summer program that takes Phillips Academy students to India in the summer, for the next three years. The grant also covered financial aid for students on the program.

“Because we now have a three-year view, we are able to think about how kids who have come back from the program can integrate that into the curriculum here, and we can tell organizations in India we have partnerships with that we’re in this for the next three years,” said Mundra.

Schorr said, “The board strongly supports that program and will be following it because it’s an international program in India and students are involved, so we look forward to seeing how that goes.”

The Niswarth trip has brought groups of students to India during five of the past eight summers. The funding confirmed that the trip would continue in upcoming years, according to Mundra.

The Abbot Academy Association also funded the launch of a website titled “Andover Answers,” a Phillips Academy version of Yahoo Answers, a project proposed by MJ Engel ’13 and Patrick Niedzielski ’13. The site will allow community members to post and respond to a variety of questions.

Engel said, “It can be intimidating to ask older students questions, and sometimes you want to get more opinions than just a prefect or proctor or close friend. We felt that this would be a quick, easy way for students to get questions answered either as themselves or anonymously.”

Engel and Niedzielski received $150, one of the smallest grants given this year.

Tyler Dillard ’12, inspired by his father’s love of motorized bicycles, wanted to organize a community project that builds electric moped-scooters to promote “A Greener Blue” and sustainability at Phillips Academy.

“One of the things I’ve noticed about ‘A Greener Blue’ is that you don’t really see your effect on the school very easily. But this is a very hands-on, real example of how we can move into a greener future,” said Dillard about his project.

Typically, Abbot grants are not given to single applicants. “The reason why this was appropriate even though it’s just one person is that it’s part of the Greener Blue project, showing how things can be done in a certain way that’s ecologically sound,” said Schorr.

Student-run clubs applied as groups for Abbot grants as well. Model UN received a grant to cover the cost for members to attend a national Model UN conference.

Charles Horner ’12, Co-President of Model UN, said, “The Abbot Academy Association has been very helpful in getting us pushed off the ground.”

Other projects included a Pine Knoll Cluster outing to Skateland, robotics kits for Robotics Club, a Science Olympiad competition for Lawrence Middle School students and Jewish and Muslim comedian visits to campus.

Schorr said, “We love to see new projects, especially something with a entrepreneurial spirit, and also to have a Non-Sibi component. What’s unique about Abbot grants is that they’re really not for one person but for the community.”

“The committee also likes to make sure that applicants are organized and have talked to everyone who is going to be involved with the project,” continued Schorr.

Chris Capano, Director of Student Activities, said “The whole process was fairly straightforward, you just fill out a form online. The hardest part is just making sure you’ve done your research. The association is very thorough and you need to know how much you need and why you need it.”

The Abbot Academy Association was established in 1973 with an original endowment of $1 million The association grants are given semi-annually to students or teachers “to continue Abbot’s tradition of boldness, innovation and caring,” according to the Association’s website.