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Students Encouraged to Apply for a Johnson Opportunity Grant in 2022 The grant provides funds to support W&L student projects across the United States and worldwide.

The Johnson Opportunity Grant program at Washington and Lee University provides funds to support W&L student projects across the United States and worldwide. The grants, which are awarded on a competitive basis, are open to any rising W&L sophomore, junior or senior. The grant covers travel, living expenses and other costs associated with the proposed project or summer activity. Last year, 33 students were awarded the grant.

This year, the deadlines for students to apply are Jan. 21, 2022 and March 18, 2022. Elizabeth Knapp, director of the Johnson Program for Leadership and Integrity, encourages all eligible students to consider applying.

“The great thing about the grants is that they can support a wide range of summer projects,” said Knapp. “These opportunities provide meaningful and transformational experiences for our students.”

Johnson Opportunity Grants have been used to fund a wide array of projects. For example, past recipients have used them to fund an unpaid internship on Capitol Hill, participation in a national or international student conference, and research travel in a chosen field of study.

Haley Culbertson ’22 used her Johnson Opportunity Grant to investigate manganese contamination in groundwater and springs across the Shenandoah Valley in Virginia. Manganese can be very harmful, causing development and cognitive issues in children and adults if chronically consumed.

“I am continuing this project throughout the year in the form of an undergraduate thesis, which I hope to publish in the coming years. I had previously been apprehensive about committing to the project before the grant,” said Culbertson. “All travel and living expenses for my project were funded by the Johnson Opportunity Grant, without which none of this would have been possible.”

Selihom Gobeze ’22 used the grant to develop a website that helps families find great adult family homes for their elderly loved ones who are unable to age-at-home. An adult family home is a private, single-family house run by a licensed “mom-or-pop” operator that provides low-medical, long-term care to up to six residents.

“While the concept is relatively new, the adult family home program received significant support from AARP and social workers in Washington, D.C., as adult family homes are cost-effective, COVID-friendly and offer more individualized care than alternative forms of long-term care,” said Gobeze. “The problem is that consumers lack resources to find out about them. My goal with this project is to increase consumer awareness of adult family homes and give families a platform to find great ones, starting in my city. You can learn more on my website.”

A committee of W&L faculty, administrators and former grant winners evaluate the applications. Grants vary depending on proposed budgets and the reasonably predicted costs associated with travel, living expenses and other necessary expenditures.

Jensen Rocha ’23 used the grant with classmates Allie Stankewich ’23 and Matt Majoy ’23 to spend a week in New York City collaborating with NYC Audubon and the Green Roof Research Alliance. While there, the students visited five of the city’s green roofs and interviewed experts associated with the design and development of each roof.

“Green roofs can help combat urbanization problems, and the point of our visit was to develop an understanding of the barriers, benefits and flaws of the green roof industry and to use this preliminary information to develop a larger research project in the future,” said Rocha. “Without the funding from the grant, I would never have had the opportunity to learn so much about a topic like this. An interest project like ours wouldn’t typically receive internship funding or other grants, and I would not have been able to pay for the experience out of pocket. I am incredibly grateful to have had the exposure I did to a range of careers and specializations in an area I would have otherwise known nothing about.”

Read more about the Johnson Opportunity Grant and how to apply here.