JusticeProjects raises $144,000 for student social justice initiatives

By Lily Jones

Sarah Fagan
Of the more than $140,000 raised, 70% will be awarded to college affinity groups, while the remaining 30% will be doled out for approved student projects.

A two-day fundraising campaign yielded $144,000 for JusticeProjects, a joint initiative between the Student Government Association (SGA) and Office of Advancement seeking to promote diversity, equity and inclusion by awarding money to affinity groups and student-run social justice projects. College trustees matched individual donations up to $250, for a maximum of $50,000 in total matched funds.

Seventy percent of the money raised will be given to institutional bodies or affinity spaces on campus, while the remaining 30% will be allocated to student-run projects, according to the SGA bill. Project proposals will be vetted by SGA directors and proposals requesting over $10,000 will be approved by the SGA senate. 

Student-run projects can be proposed by individuals or groups and can include anything from money to buy a spikeball set or funds to bring a particular speaker to campus, according to Maggie Connolly ’23, SGA director of student affairs and a co-author of the bill. SGA Vice President Roni Lezama ’22 said the SGA will also provide funding for projects that take more than one semester to complete.

The SGA Representatives also encourage students to collaborate with others in their projects. SGA Directors and Senators are available to help students with the planning. 

“We encourage students to think big,” Lezama said.  

Lezama, who also helped write the bill that called for the creation of the JusticeProjects, said he was inspired by the college fundraiser for racial justice organizations last summer that raised $71,000.

“That campaign was successful, but we wanted to find ways to continue sustained advocacy for the BIPOC community,” Lezama said. “I did not want money to be the barrier that prevents students from pursuing any idea that could have a tremendous impact.” 

The success of the inaugural JusticeProjects fundraiser was thanks to effective collaboration between students and administrators, according to Connolly.

“I want to communicate to students that they should know the administration really wants to see your ideas come into fruition and make things as accessible as possible at Middlebury,” she said. 

In addition to an annual JusticeProjects fundraiser, the SGA will be pursuing further fundraisers for local and national Black Lives Matter organizations later in the spring semester. 

Starting the second week of March, students can apply for project grants by visiting go/SGA