ULP to fund student projects with grant money

Evelio Contreras

The Undergraduate Leadership Program will attempt to improve town-gown relations after receiving $100,000 from a three-year, $2.25 million grant funded by Northwestern to encourage faculty-student interaction.

ULP will spend most of its portion on student projects being developed to improve relations between NU and Evanston, said ULP Coordinator Paul Arntson, who applied for the grant money last year.

“NU has been doing a lot of good things for the community, but what’s new is its attempt to identify students and staff who are interested in community activities,” said Arntson, a Speech professor. “I’m both excited and a little scared. It’s a high-risk venture. Part of the excitement is that it’s a high-wire act.”

Arntson and four other professors are directing the grant-funded projects, which will be launched Fall Quarter. By that time, Arntson said, he hopes eight or 10 of the 24 projects will be in place.

“The idea is to first discover the interests and assets – not asses; we have plenty of them on campus – of people on campus,” Arntson said. “(The goal is) to find out what they are interested in doing and in which community organizations of Evanston and Chicago.”

In fact, ULP has been working all year on ways to unite the university and the community, said Weinberg junior Mike Schwarzwalder, a teaching assistant for one of the 24 groups of students.

“This is the first time ULP has been backed up by money,” Schwarzwalder said. “However, the groups have come up with ideas that have already been implemented, like the escort service four years ago. A lot of groups probably won’t need the money for the Evanston-campus activities.”

Next week students in ULP classes will turn in final drafts of their projects, including sponsorship sources and other plans. The students will present projects starting on May 20 in two lab groups.

Weinberg sophomore Howard Lien said the focus has been on off-campus activities.

“Each lab group has proposals in which members collaborate together,” Lien said. “I’m thinking of a partnership between Northwestern, Chicago and Evanston food placement. Some of the food that is wasted does not need to be and we would pledge the food to a hunger-relief organization.”

The projects funded by the grant help students fulfill ULP requirements, which include two retreats and work with community, civic and corporate leaders in Evanston.

More than 240 students are in ULP this year, compared with 74 when it started in 1991.