LaPlante Grant Information

Dear Colleague,

The Underwood Stryker Center for Civic Engagement (CCE) is pleased to invite applications for LaPlante Faculty Grants.  Each year we award up to four stipends of $2000 each to faculty who decide to design a new course, or revise an existing course, to include a community-based and/or service-learning component.

Over 30 faculty members have received these grants since the endowment was established in 2001.  They find that this pedagogy invigorates their teaching because it intensifies student involvement, offers new avenues for research, and creates powerful opportunities to engage across the greater Kalamazoo community.  Our service-learning partners include citizens’ coalitions, public schools, the YWCA, neighborhood associations, the Kalamazoo Gay Lesbian Resource Center, health agencies and clinics, city government, environmental and arts organizations, farmers and Farmworker Legal Services, grass roots organizations, housing cooperatives, day shelters for people experiencing homelessness, Community AIDS Resources and Education, and many more. Each year between 250 and 400 students participate in service-learning courses; 74% of K students engage in some form of service-learning during their four years.

LaPlante Faculty Grants support service-learning components that:

  1. Respond to significant community-identified needs, build on community assets,  and foster positive College-community relationships;
  2. Directly integrate community-based service into the central learning goals of the course, and therefore include structured reflection to connect community learning to course content;
  3. Involve significant numbers of students in service-learning;
  4. Extend and institutionalize service-learning throughout the curriculum;
  5. Are reciprocally planned and evaluated with community partners.

Faculty members must plan to offer the course at least twice in the next three academic years; preference therefore is given to tenure-track faculty and those holding a continuing non-tenure track appointment.

Proposals are accepted on a rolling basis. The intention of the program is to encourage, enable and reward faculty who offer high quality service-learning courses; in other words, we want to fund the proposal. Submissions will be reviewed by CCE staff and a subcommittee of the Experiential Education Committee, consisting of staff, students and faculty. Based on previous experience, you may expect reviewers to ask questions, recommend ways to refine the proposal, make suggestions for improvement and/ or ask the applicant to re-submit.

CCE staff will gladly assist with any aspect of proposal development, including use of literature and other resources, and to provide suggestions/ guidance about working with community partners, both generally and specifically. Indeed, it is strongly recommended that faculty consult with CCE as they plan and develop their proposal, and in particular to learn about previous and ongoing community partnerships.

We ask those who receive awards to:

  • Take any administrative steps that may be needed to seek approval for a new course or scheduling changes for an existing course –and, as noted above, to teach it twice in the next three years.
  • Describe how you plan to evaluate the contribution of the service-learning component to your course. 
  • Attend the on-campus workshops and colloquia we hold from time to time, and meet with CCE staff as you plan your course, and again within a short time of its conclusion.
  • Serve as a mentor for other faculty who choose to engage in service-learning in subsequent years.

Please note that the grants are designed to compensate faculty for the time entailed in revamping or creating a course – not to defray the costs of the course. All faculty who teach service-learning courses are eligible to apply for funds of up to $250 per course to support expenses associated with their course, and for funding to pay a student to work as a Teaching/ Service-Learning Assistant.

Our process is meant to intrigue and encourage you, NOT to create competition or paperwork, and we will help you develop your proposal. Please contact me if you’re interested in applying, or just want more information.  Sincerely, Alison Geist, M.P.H., Director, Underwood Stryker Institute for Civic Engagement