MiddKid Mega Project offers $100,000 in grants for students

By RACHEL LU

The Student Government Association Finance Committee is dedicating $100,000 of budget surpluses to fund student-run projects through the MiddKid Mega Project. The committee is accepting applications on a rolling basis until March 20, or whenever money runs out. Project proposals can include events, experiences or other investments to enrich student-life on campus and will be carried out this spring and next fall. 

Kenshin Cho ’20, chair of the finance committee, explained that this initiative is a one-time competition to incentivize creative ideas and expedite the process of funding them. 

The Finance Committee identified the $100,000 surplus in the student activities budget in its mid-year report. The student activities fee this year was $426 as included in the tuition, an $8 increase from last year. The Finance Committee allocates this fee, a cumulative $1,080,000, to student organizations and other events. 

The Finance Committee attributes this surplus to both the $8 increase and an abnormally high rate of student organizations returning allocated funds. They attribute this increased return rate to confusion generated by the college’s switch to a new finance system, Oracle — clubs spent less money because they did not understand how the system worked and were cautious about overspending.

Cho and the Finance Committee wanted to spend the money deliberately, so they turned to the community for ideas.

The committee determined that it is best to spend the money this year because it is a portion of tuition paid by current students, Cho explained.

Cho is aware that funding can be complicated, but he hopes that this project will allow students to start projects while avoiding many of the complex obstacles that frequently accompany funding. 

“We don’t want student organizations to make decisions based on how much money they get, and instead start making decisions based on what they want to do and ask for money afterwards,” said Cho. “We are thinking about ways to open up funding to individuals and organizations, particularly without the commons system, because that’s where a lot of individuals used to go to plan small events.”

Amanda Reinhardt, director of student activities, serves as an advisor to the Finance Committee. Reinhardt stressed that an important role of SGA is identifying gaps in student activities. 

“This opportunity is here so students can get creative, and you don’t have to be part of a student org to do something. It’s an opportunity to name what’s missing,” said Reinhardt.

A board consisting of the 13 members of the Finance Committee, two SGA senators and one cabinet committee member will judge the project proposals. 

The application process includes an initial online form followed by an in-person pitch to the committee. Cho wanted perspectives beyond those of Finance Committee members represented in the consideration. Furthermore, the committee will prioritize proposals that address concerns highlighted by past surveys, such as Zeitgeist and exit surveys completed by graduating seniors.

As of last weekend, the committee received six applications. One application has already stood out to Cho: the SGA’s technology committee’s proposal to fund a Hackathon. This initiative will probably be the first to receive funds from The MiddKidd Mega-Project. Cho noted that the Hackathon will involve collaboration between various organizations and requires a large budget but he thinks that the event will be meaningful.  

“We definitely want to spread the word because it’s a great opportunity. It’s one of the few times the SGA is putting money behind what they want to do, which is to listen to student concerns about social life and extracurricular life,” said Cho. “We want to take advantage of that and hear a really diverse range of ideas. We want to unleash the creative energy of the community.”

Editor’s note: Kenshin Cho ’20 was formerly a Local editor for The Campus.