Public Service Center grants enable students to work locally and around the world on community service projects. Projects must have the prospect of providing sustainable benefits for the community and continued interest from the student.
To apply for an expedition grant, follow the guidelines for general grants here.
Read about the IAP 2012 Expedition Grants
Esha Atolia (’14, Course 20)
Esha traveled to Jaipur, India to work on the “We Can!” project to promote a culture of volunteerism in the community. Esha approached this by bridging the gap between NGOs and NPOs and encouraging and assisting local students to play a more active role in identifying problems and designing solutions. She contacted NGOs to inform them of the “We Can!” project and to set up volunteer opportunities for the students. Esha was also able to identify a core group of 20 students who will execute a volunteer event for 5-10 groups of high school students and each group will have a university student mentor. This core group will further carry on the planning of “We Can!” on the ground.
Maria Cassidy (’14, Course 1E)
Maria traveled to Bluefields, Nicaragua to work on a sustainable waste-management system and business with the D-Lab Waste team. The municipality is in the process of developing a new dumpsite to include a recycling processing center, so Maria was able to work on several issues – she assisted in building a biodigester and she worked with the local composter wastepickers to analyze their current process of collection and recycling to improve upon the effectiveness of model and product. She also was involved in a street theater play to engage the local community in these pressing issues.
Cynthia Chen (’14, Course 7)
Cynthia traveled to Fuyang, China to develop a community-led AIDS awareness campaign through a service leadership training camp with local high school students, teachers and parents. The students worked on team-building skills and conducted their own presentations on global health and international development. Cynthia presented a targeted AIDS education curriculum focusing on the prevention, transmission and treatment of AIDS. Some of the students volunteered at AIDS Orphanage Salvation (AOS), a local NGO supporting HIV-infected orphans living in local rural areas. Through these efforts, Cynthia saw the high school students become inspired to educate their own community and helped them develop their own AIDS awareness campaign. The students plan to execute this event during the next school semester.
Diana Jue (G, Course 11)
Diana traveled to southern India to work on Essmart, an essential technology distributor with an in-store presence. Over IAP Essmart conducted 200 surveys with retail shop owners and began operations with two shops near Pollachi, Tamil Nadu. The shops sold the 17 demonstration products (ranging from solar lanterns to pedal-powered generators to coir ratt winding machines) within one week. Diana estimates that these 17 products have affected approximately 60 people. The goal for Essmart is to be able to increase product types and brands to give to store owners to sell and to improve customer record-keeping. They aim to distribute 1 million items over the next five years are applying for competitions like IDEAS Global Challenge and MIT $100K.
Bohan Liu (’12, Course 7)
Bohan traveled to Fuyang, China with teammate Cynthia Chen to work with AOS. Bohan worked with Cynthia on the Service Leadership Program as well, but his main focus was analyzing the care delivery (acceptance of HIV within the community and accessibility of their treatments/services) model of AOS and identifying existing inefficiencies. After working closely with the health care workers to learn about their treatment process and with the high school students, Bohan made suggestions like developing team clusters that specialized in certain aspects of care to improve loss of efficiency and also to implement better route mapping for their countryside care visits. Several of the students who participated in the leadership program are now also interested in volunteering with AOS and contributing positively to their community.
Read about the Summer 2011 Expedition Grants
Rachel Dias Carlson (’14, Course 2)
Rachel Dias Carlson traveled to Guatemala to do field work on a wheelchair for active users that she began work on in M-Lab last spring. She and PSC Fellow Paul Lazarescu designed and completed a new, more adjustable prototype of the wheelchair as well as an attachment to allow users to travel easily over rough terrain. The final cost for the wheelchair production will be about $500, significantly less than the US model costing over $2000. The chair is also significantly lighter, weighing only 21 lbs., versus the 30 lbs. of the original chair. She hopes to further improve the wheelchair design based on user feedback and then return to Guatemala to work on the manufacturing process.
Mauricio Gomez-Diaz (G, ESD)
Mauricio traveled to Sierra Leone to continue work on Project Yele, an IDEAS Global Challenge project focused on local, sustainable economic development in the village of Yele. This summer Mauricio targeted his work on setting up a series of small-scale businesses in partnership with local entrepreneurs in order to better understand the local market and their needs. Mauricio was able to devise a successful business model around solar lighting solutions, experiment with different methods for creating charcoal based on D-Lab designs, and test methods for creating refrigeration solutions using local materials. During the summer, the project was renamed "e-Luma", and now the team is ready to move ahead.
Victoria Okuneye (’13, Course 9)
Victoria traveled to Jamaica to work with local teachers on computer literacy training. She worked through GreatShape! Inc., a non-profit that focuses on dental and eye health as well as literacy, and the Jamaican Ministry of education to work with the communities of Negril and Green Island. Victoria traveled with other MIT students on her International Development Club (IDC) team and assessed donated computer labs as well as student and teacher skill levels. Her team then presented an interactive learning curriculum that offers a comprehensive way for teachers to implement programming in their classrooms. GreatShape! Inc. and the Jamaican Ministry of Education have expressed a desire for a subsequent course. Victoria plans to work with them to finalize regional expansion and is considering when to return.
Marcel Sanchez (’12, Course 2A)
Children’s Fund International in Honduras invited Marcel to help them improve operations. Marcel worked on the installation and usability of a computer center in an elementary school in Chaparral. He provided recommendations around the purchase and installation of a solar energy system and taught basic computation to school-aged youth of the community. Marcel created an operations model for students to maintain the center by dividing teams into three sections: administration, promotion and technical upkeep. The center will be used primarily for educational purposes and, because of the solar electricity system, will also double as a community meeting space.