SGA offers mini-grants

Jessica Malskis

Jessica Malskis

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The JSC Student Government Association’s main purpose is to represent students and help them out whenever possible. One of those ways is through mini-grants.

Mini-grants are funded by money that is stored away by the SGA to go to students in need of financial assistance. The use of these grants can range from going on school trips to paying bills for school.

The way that it works, as described by SGA President Shavonna Bent, is that the SGA and the student activities office receive money from the student activities fee each year. They split it up between themselves: 55 percent goes to SGA and 45 percent goes to SLAP. After the total amount of money is received by Bent, she proposes a budget to the SGA senate in the fall for a vote. Part of that budget is specifically designated for mini-grants. Throughout the year, senate members receive applications from students to access money from the mini-grants and vote to pass these applications.

“All this money is coming from the student activity fee, basically the students’ money, and the mini-grants are designed to give it back to students who need it,” she said.

Bent recently needed the SGA’s assistance through the mini-grant program when she went on a trip to Portland, Oregon, for a conference on oceanography.

“I was encouraged by the summer student fellows, the program that I was in, to apply for the ocean sciences meeting in Portland, Oregon,” she said. “It was a week-long experience where people present about the most current research in oceanography. So I learned about it over the summer and then decided to apply and I was accepted. The fees for the conference were pretty significant, as well as paying for food, the plane ticket and a place to stay. I knew about the mini-grant through being a part of SGA and that it has helped a lot of students pay for conference fees and made it accessible to travel to these conferences.”

Jessica Malskis, the SGA public relations manager, also needed assistance through a mini-grant. Unlike Bent, the financial assistance she needed was for her to stay in school.

“I didn’t know that I would need this assistance until Christmas break,” she said. “My father got really sick — we thought he had terminal cancer. It ended up being a blood clot, but the money put towards trying to diagnose his health problem really put them in a pinch for money, and they said to me that they couldn’t help me this semester. I had to apply for a job and move out of the dorm and into an apartment, because it was cheaper, and I was still in trouble financially. So I went to Krista Swahn, who is the director of student activities and community service, and I asked her if there was any way that I could receive money for the mini-grants to cover my monthly payment. She told me, ‘Absolutely, if you need that money, you can ask for it.’ Ultimately, it’s up to the SGA to approve that, but you can ask for money from the mini-grant for basically anything up to a certain extent.”

For Malskis, she feels that not enough students know or take advantage of the mini-grants.

“I definitely think there is a lot of students who do not know about the mini-grant program,” she said. “They don’t know that this money is available. If they did, there would be more opportunities for students. I’m a part of the SGA and I didn’t know, until I asked about any financial opportunities, that the grant was available for me to help.”

Bent wants more students to know that the mini-grant program is available to be used for anything that will help students.

“A lot of the time, it’s word of mouth when it comes to this information, and I would like more people to know about this so that they can go to conferences and events that is going to help people with their career. That’s what we really want the money to be for — to do things that they normally wouldn’t be able to do,” she said.

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