Students’ Persistence Pays Off With Grant for Children’s Playground

04/30/12

Children at the Bellevue Childcare Center of the United Neighborhood Centers of Northeastern Pennsylvania will have a new playground thanks to the dogged persistence of a group of University of Scranton students led by senior Kaitlin Dolan, a communication major from Olyphant.

Last year, Dolan and a group of students participating in the University’s Students in Free Enterprise (SIFE) program attempted to obtain a grant for a much-needed playground at the United Neighborhood Center (UNC) on Emmett Street in Scranton. When their grant application failed to receive funding, Dolan took it upon herself to apply for a Pepsi Challenge Grant. Although it was one of the projects selected to compete for funding in the national grant initiative, and despite generating much community support for the proposal, the project didn’t win the competition.

Still determined to secure funding for the playground, Dolan and a second group of SIFE students competed for a Lowe’s Grant awarded through a SIFE organization competition. This effort paid off. The students won a $2,000 grant from Lowe’s for the playground, which will be built this summer.

“A playground at the Bellevue Center has been a dream for 23 years,” said Michael Hanley, executive director of UNC, at a groundbreaking ceremony for the playground. He explained that a playground had been planned since the center was built, however, the center never had the funding to construct it.

“I admire the students’ persistence in getting this grant,” said Hanley.

Dolan, junior Caroline Bligh of Basking Ridge, N.J., senior Jacqueline Sembor of Thompson, Conn., and other students in the SIFE program arranged for the groundbreaking ceremony.

Jan Kelly, Ph.D., associate professor of communication, serves as director of the SIFE program at The University of Scranton.

SIFE is an international nonprofit organization that works with leaders in business and higher education to mobilize university students to make a difference in their communities while developing the skills to become socially responsible business leaders.

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