The Tisch Fund for Civic Engagement provides funds for student-led events, projects, and programs with clear connections to active citizenship. In the 2015-2016 academic year, the Tisch Fund helped support 26 projects with nearly $25,000. Below are examples of funded projects from the past year.
Talmon Smith ’16, Undergraduate School of Arts & Sciences
The reflections and predictions made by New Orleanians – who have witnessed first-hand how our nation’s civic infrastructure works – span place and time and were recalled in Smith’s interviews with everyone from average citizens to city officials about their feelings during the anniversary week, their reaction to official remarks from theMayor, the President, and former presidents Bush and Clinton. As Smith interviewed women and men from New Orleans for the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina, he increasingly appreciated how their reflections were not solely concerned with the events surrounding the storm; not confined by Orleans Parish city limits; nor bound by the decade that has passed since Katrina made landfall on August 29, 2005.
Isac Ari Jacobovits ’16, Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy
The annual student-run Fletcher School Africana Conference aims to create a platform where engaging esteemed scholars, diplomats, policymakers, activists, corporate executives, students and professionals discuss some of the African continent’s most pressing challenges and solutions to these issues. The theme for the 3rd Annual Conference was “From Rhetoric to Action: Getting Things Done in Modern Day Africa” and was held on February 5th, 2016. Discourse surrounding Africa’s emergence often focuses on challenges rather than opportunities, and therefore this year’s conference was solutions-oriented to inspire actionable solutions for some of the most critical challenges facing Africa today. Panelists shared their insights, best practices, and success stories from their professional experience, which were compiled into a “Solutions Diary” for distribution to all conference participants.
Sondra Lipshutz ’16 and Susan Bresney ’16, Undergraduate School of Engineering
This year’s WSSS symposium addressed a set of water issues pertaining to and related to waste in the municipal, agricultural, and industrial sectors. In a world of increasing complexity, connectivity, contaminants, environmental uncertainty and demand for limited resources, we are compelled to re-value, re-apply, and re-define waste. Academics and professionals addressed if and how waste could be valued as a resource. Interactive breakout sessions allowed attendees to discuss and confront these issues more thoroughly by working personally with the expert speakers.
Kaitlin Pang ’16, Undergraduate School of Arts and Science
The A-WAY Poetry Workshop Series and Slam Team provides a space for Asian and Asian American high school youth across the Greater Boston area to break silence, find voice, and build community through the art form of spoken word poetry. This workshop series consisted of sessions that utilized writing, performance, and spoken word poetry as a means of self reflection, identity exploration, and community empowerment. Six youths were selected to represent the first ever A-WAY youth slam team, who competed at the statewide high school slam, Louder Than A Bomb! Massachusetts and were coached to prepare for the competition by mentors from the Tufts slam team. A-WAY is a member-based network that includes the following organizations: Asian Task Force Against Domestic Violence (ATASK), Asian Community Development Corporation (ACDC), Boston Chinatown Neighborhood Center (BCNC), Chinese Progressive Association (CPA), Vietnamese American Initiative for Development (VietAID), Castle Square Tenants Organization (CSTO), Inquilinos Boricuas en Accion (IBA), Phillips Brooks House Association (PBHA).
Nitya Agrawal ‘17, Mike Manzi ‘16, Juan David Nunez ‘16, Undergraduate School of Arts & Sciences
During the 2016 spring break, students joined Professor Adam Grenier to explore the way microfinance works in the indigenous, Andean region of Ecuador. Participants of the GET: Microfinance gained a unique, personal insight into the successes and challenges with microfinance through conversations with locals, lending institutions, and social businesses. A knowledge exchange occurred that enabled a deeper understanding of microfinance, Ecuador, and its people designed to shift perspectives and empower small scale entrepreneurs.
Benjamin Hoffman ‘16, Diane Alexander ‘16, Undergraduate School of Arts & Sciences
Since the Spring 2015 semester, Tufts CIVIC has been a forum of civil partisan discourse where students learn by exploring all ends of the political spectrum. During discussions, CIVIC expects its members to maintain civil dialogue without ad hominem attacks, aggressive language or bellicose tones. CIVIC also hosts a number of events, such as joint debates with other Tufts organizations, and forums with politically active speakers and alumni. In doing so, Tufts CIVIC aims to create a more open, free sphere of political discourse on campus, where students can embrace and empathize with alternative points of view.
Alexandria Trombley ’17, Undergraduate School of Engineering Daniel Feerst ’16, Undergraduate School of Arts and Sciences
AutismSees is a Tufts-based startup with the mission to develop technology to help individuals with autism and other social communication difficulties learn to communicate effectively in stressful social situations and was founded by Tufts’ own Danielle Feerst. Now the team consists of Danielle Feerst: Founder, CEO, and Engineering Psychology student at Tufts, Alexandria Trombley: Co-Founder, COO and Tufts student studying Human Factors Engineering, Anthony Principe: Education Coordinator and Co-Founder, and Alix Generous: Co-Founder and product evangelist. Podium, one of the team’s developments, is a software system that allows users to practice presentation and interview skills while improving their understanding of themselves in their environment—a foundational understanding for communication. The AutismSees team will host a communication and social skills boot camp to teach communication and social skills through Podium, guest speakers including TED speaker Alix Generous, and Microsoft product evangelist Josh Drew, as well as group discussions, and presentation of empirically-based research.
Henrietta Bright ’19 and Maleeka Baneerje ’19, Tufts School of Medicine
How might race influence the doctor-patient relationship? In what ways do ethnicity, race, and racism impact health outcomes? The Dialogues on Race and Ethnicity, facilitated by YWCA Boston, created a safe environment for 25 students to participate in honest and open discussion about race within the community as part of their medical school education. Through the series, participants better understand the role race plays in our daily interactions and learned how to move beyond perceived differences to connect with individuals of different racial and ethnic backgrounds. This project led to an action plan to integrate racial justice into the TUSM community, and its impact on participants will be studied to demonstrate the potential benefit of integrating such training into the curriculum.
Justin Maillet ‘17, Aekta Patel ‘18, Tufts School of Dental Medicine
Dental Central aims to support TUSDM student’s development as active citizens in two main ways: Through its leadership development work to ensure that dental student leaders understand how to lead by example and motivate other students to get involved in community service experiences; and by helping students understand the importance of oral health prevention education materials that are sensitive to the language, culture and ages of the community they seek to serve. Dental Central hosted two trainings and four roundtable discussions with student leaders to develop age- and language-appropriate materials to support oral health promotion efforts throughout Boston.
Jonathan Sirota ’17, Erick Garcia ’17, Undergraduate School of Arts and Sciences
Through this project, students gained a deep understanding of the issues plaguing the hawksbill sea turtle, the complications surrounding aquatic migration patterns and infrastructure design and development, and the coordination intricacies of collaborating with several established organizations. In Nicaragua, students developed a storage facility and floating bridge using their combined strengths in engineering, biology, environmental sciences, and critical problem-solving. Meanwhile, they also gained an understanding of different cultures and the NGO-local community relationship.
Everett Community Growers (ECG) works to address food justice and racial equity in Everett through organic gardening and community-based applied learning opportunities on city-owned vacant land. The creation of a new community farm in 2016 will donate organic produce to area food pantries in Everett and will be the third urban agriculture site managed by ECG, which is working to strengthen relationships among residents and community organizations, revitalize green spaces, and provide access to fresh, healthy, and culturally appropriate foods.
Katherine Spencer ’18, Tufts School of Medicine
Health Impact Partnership is an after-school program in which Tufts University medical students work with students at English High School to identify common health problems in their community and understand the influence of social and environmental determinants of health. Through a public health lens, the program teaches leadership and advocacy skills to high-risk youth and provides them with the skill-set necessary to perform a community needs assessment and design and implement health interventions to address those needs.
Zaroug Jaleel ’17, Rumzah Paracha ’18, Undergraduate School of Arts and Sciences
Jetpac Inc. is a nonprofit dedicated to increasing minority groups’ involvement in the democratic process and was founded by Nadeem Mazen–Massachusetts’ first elected Muslim official. During Mazen’s campaign, his management team began developing education- and tech-based tools to efficiently increase political engagement —using Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram with huge success. His team held a workshop for the Tufts community to be a part of the publication process of a ‘campaign playbook,’ which will provide resources to minorities across the country who are interested in campaigning for public office.
The theme of Innovate Tufts Week, held from January 29-February 4, 2016, was Think Local, Act Local: Innovation from a Bottom-Up Perspective. Throughout the week, participants were exposed to visionary leaders and entrepreneurs who showcased inspiring local projects and initiatives across the world that are challenging the status-quo and impacting lives.
Miriam Priven ’17, Undergraduate School of Arts & Sciences
The New England Jewish Labor Committee partnered with students and campus organizations at Boston-area universities for a new educational initiative called “Jews and the Labor Movement”. This initiative engaged Jewish youth in histories of Jews and the labor movement to empower students to get involved with local labor activism while building communities of young Jews around shared exploration of broader Jewish links to social justice. The initiative encompassed a series of programs, planned and run by NE JLC staff and student fellows.
Camila Solorzano Barrera ’16, Undergraduate School of Arts & Sciences
Saha Global, a non-profit organization, partners with rural communities in developing countries to establish sustainable social businesses that provide basic services. Barrera worked to set up a water business in a village currently lacking access to clean water. The business provides a permanent source of water for the entire community in a sustainable way.
Betty Fong ‘17, Tenzin Chokki ‘17, Y-Binh Nguyen ‘18, Vidya Srinivasan ‘16, Undergraduate School of Arts & Sciences
Machik Weekend is an annual conference in New York City that brings together Tibetans, Chinese, and global citizens to highlight Tibetan social innovators and engage in imagining new possibilities for the future of Tibet. The theme of the 9th annual Machik Weekend wasCivic Engagement & Tibet; panelists included Tibetan and Tibet-focused HIV/AIDS activists, conservationists, development economists, human rights activists, UNICEF and National Geographic representatives, indigeneity scholars, and more. A delegation of Tufts students attended Machik Weekend to participate in the workshops and breakout sessions to strengthen individual and collective efforts to build solidarity with Tibetan movements and support Tibetan capacity-building, as well as create important ties to the organizing, development, and community work with which each student is individually involved.
Clare O’Hare ’16, Emma Rosenberg ’16, The Fletcher School of Law & Diplomacy
This first-time conference brought together academics, practitioners, and religious leaders to demonstrate the role that religion plays across myriad issues spanning security to civic engagement. The one-day conference, consisting of three panels—Security & Conflict, Rights & the State, and Politics & Identity—provided a forum to discuss how religion affects these spheres and how an understanding of religious influences improves policy-making.
Ayal Pierce ’19, Undergraduate School of Arts and Sciences
The Sharewood Project is a free health care organization in Malden, Massachusetts operated and administered by medical students from Tufts University School of Medicine with assistance from Tufts University undergraduate students and is entirely staffed by volunteer physicians, students, and interpreters. The primary goals of the Sharewood Project are: (1) to provide free health care services, (2) to collaborate with local free and low-cost health providers and community groups to coordinate care, (3) to provide personal wellness education through sexual and reproductive health and nutrition counseling, (4) to strongly encourage and assist the uninsured in enrolling in health insurance programs and (5) to instill the next generation of physicians with a lifelong commitment to public health and community service.
Nikita Shukla ’17, Dani Kupfer ’18, Undergraduate School of Arts and Sciences
In the spirit of ideas worth spreading, TED has created a program called TEDx: local, self-organized events that bring people together to share a TED-like experience. At theTEDxTufts event, TEDTalks video and live speakers sparked deep discussion and connection in a small group. Before TEDxTufts, the Tufts Idea Ex (TEX) was a TED-style night of Tufts student, faculty, and alumni speakers sharing their brightest, most innovative ideas with the community. TEX showcased the innovative and creative potential of this university- entirely independent from TEDx. This year’s TEDx was held on April 16th, 2016.
Renee’ Vallejo ’16, Undergraduate School of Arts & Sciences
Nastassja Schmeidt and Lea Roth, co-founders of Spring Up, a multimedia activist collective that creates space for learning and healing, presented a workshop and teach-in to students about how the problems students experience on campus relate to what is going on at schools across the country. The workshop focused on trauma and healing trauma in conjunction with the LGBT Center and Tufts QSA.
Solitary confinement is rapidly being recognized as one of the few remaining forms of legalized tortured, which remains common in prisons within the United States and, like the broader mass incarceration system, disproportionately affects prisoners of color and other vulnerable groups. Tufts Amnesty International hosted a panel of formerly-incarcerated individuals now conducting anti-solitary activism to discuss the practice of solitary confinement through individual experience and a look to where it fits in the broader systems of oppression and incarceration. The event was co-sponsored by the Tufts Institute for Global Leadership, the Jonathan M. Tisch College of Civic Life, and the Consortium of Studies in Race, Colonialism, and Diaspora.
Samantha Berg ’17, Undergraduate School of Arts and Sciences
Tufts Students for NARAL, a chapter of NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts, is a student group that engages the campus and surrounding communities in the fight for reproductive rights. Members of Tufts Students for NARAL take part in legislative and electoral work, while creating real, professional connections in the process. We offer all students an open and welcoming space to discuss and advocate for reproductive rights through political work and advocacy.
Phillip Ellison ‘16 and Will Luna ‘17, Undergraduate School of Arts and Sciences
Ulink is a mobile app with two features – (1) an integrated student profile that captures key anecdotal information to help guidance counselors create personalized student transfer advising plans for students considering their college education; and (2) A calendar to help the administrator post transfer events and send push notification reminders to students. Ulink will create a more streamlined, personalized, and engaging transfer advising process that helps the counselor support students into a four year university while leveraging digital technology to build capacity and strategical support for an open access non-profit education institution.
Kyle Jewhurst ‘16, Emily Pitcairn ‘16, Kailynette Pinet ‘18, Clare Parker ‘16, Graduate School of Arts & Sciences
The Biology Union of Graduate Students (BUGS), the Tufts Biology Department’s official graduate student organization, helps high school and younger students at the 2016 USA Science and Engineering Festival, the country’s largest and only national STEM festival. BUGS will represented the Biology Department and Tufts University by having its own booth and illustrated the variety of research conducted in the Biology Department with a number of interactive exhibits themed around the research of the participating graduate students. Our unifying theme for the booth was communication: how cells communicate between themselves, how different organs communicate across an animal’s body, and how organisms communicate with each other in an ecosystem.
Christine Van Fossen ’17, Friedman School of Nutrition Science and Policy
During the spring semester of 2016, five graduate students in the Water: Science, Systems and Society (WSSS) program at Tufts University partnered with the U.S.-based non-profit organization 1for3 and the Lajee Center, a Bethlehem-based non-profit organization, to help expand access to safe drinking water for residents of Palestinian refugee camps in Bethlehem. Through on-site demonstration and training, we helped educate citizens – particularly youth and women – about not only how to test and improve the quality of their water supply, but also about sustainable strategies for minimizing water use and maintaining water quality during periods of limited supply.