STORY BY KARA STRICKLER
Writing grant proposals, meeting with officials from government agencies and creating a new organization on campus are all common activities within the First-Year Seminar class “I Want to Ride My Bicycle: Cycling and Social Change.”
These activities might seem uncommon for a class made up of first-year students, but one of the reasons why this FYS is unique is because it was created last year by the Leadership Capstone class in order to continue their efforts on campus.
“The capstone split into two groups, and the one that I was on called ourselves ‘Safe Lanes Drake,’ and it was an initiative to create safe biking lanes in the Des Moines community,” said Courtney Fishman, a senior who was in the capstone last year.
“Within that group, it was split into a smaller subcommittee and part of it was focused on creating an FYS because we thought that would be one way to create sustainable change in the Drake community,” Fishman said. “The other part of the group was there to work on the actual legalities of getting safe biking lanes.”
FYS Instructor Erin Smith is helping her students to continue with the objectives of the capstone without wasting any time.
They have already submitted a proposal for a Community Kickstarter Grant from the Wellmark Foundation.
“The Drake Development Office made us aware of the grant opportunity and we had about 10 days to come up with a proposal and put it all together,” said Smith. “The students formed teams for a competition of ideas of how we could invest $10,000 to make Drake a more bike friendly campus.”
The main goals listed in the grant proposal include creating a bike rental system on campus, having secure storage where students would be able to keep their bikes year-round and increasing safety measures for cyclists around campus by increasing signage and offering online training courses.
Another goal of the FYS is to create a new campus organization next fall that will continue advocating long-term for a bike friendly campus.
All 19 students in the FYS selected this class as their top pick.
“It’s really exciting. I wasn’t expecting anything like this, so coming in class and then about the third lesson saying, ‘Oh yeah, so you’re going to write a proposal for a $10,000 grant’ is pretty cool, especially if it actually happens,” said Thomas Hands, a first-year student from Cambridge, England.
There are still more steps to take before they know if they have been selected for the grant.
“If we get selected it’s put to a popular vote, so the students will be working to get students and others in the Drake community to vote for their project every day., Smith said.
Voting is live until Wednesday, Oct. 7. To vote, go to the Community Kickstarter Page and vote for “Make Drake a more Bike-Friendly Community”. TheWellmark Foundation will announce the grant winners on Nov. 9.