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Student Engagement Grants

A student and community member work on a garden plot together at Plenty! Farm and Food Bank.

About the John E. Dooley Student Engagement Grant

Through the generosity of many donors, JEDSEG funds highly motivated students or student teams planning to implement or expand community-based civic engagement projects. Each year, two awards of $750 or one $1,500 award are granted.

Questions? Contact the VT Engage team at or 540-231-6964.

Minimum eligibility criteria

The application for the 2020-21 academic year will open in fall 2020.

Please review the 2018-19 Request for Proposals document for full details on past award cycles.

  • Applications must be submitted by a current full- or part-time student or student team at Virginia Tech. For student teams, a designated team leader must submit the application on behalf of the team. A student team can be an informal group or a Registered Student Organization.
  • Undergraduate and graduate students are eligible to apply but applicants must be current students for the duration of the grant.
  • Applications submitted by JEDSEG winners from the previous year’s cycle are not eligible.
  • The application materials must request funding for a project that reinforces VT Engage's philosophy.

Previous winners

Expanding the Market Kids Program

The New River Health District’s Market Kids program engages families of children ages 6 to 13 in horticulture, nutrition, and entrepreneurship as a way to improve health outcomes. Master of public health students Harper Lovegrove and Dylan Allanson, along with Nina Hoffmeyer, an undergraduate student studying human, nutrition, foods, and exercise, submitted a proposal to expand programming for Market Kids.

The students used the grant money to hold demonstrations and enhance classes with the children, buy composting materials, and developed field trips. To learn more about their work, read this VT Daily article.

Heather Lyne received a $1,500 award for her proposal to develop a story map of culturally underserved and underrepresented communities connected by the Roanoke River Greenway. A story map is a narrative about experiences in specific spaces or places. She intends to create the story map through interviews and surveys of residents along the greenway and at local events.

The story map will then serve as a foundation for public art and place-making projects aimed at empowering those communities. The project aims to strengthen civic cooperation in the area by focusing on greenway spaces where diverse neighborhoods and communities of both domestic and refugee families intersect. She will focus on these areas with mixed histories, heritages, incomes, professions, and beliefs in order to engage artists with residents, businesses and stakeholders in describing their local history and cultivating the social identity and physical fabric of their communities through shared spaces along the Greenway.

The Roanoke River Greenway story-map created in collaboration with neighborhoods will not remain passive. Instead, it will serve as an empowering foundation for a collective public art strategy and offers potential as an inclusive, transformational gateway and arts node, to residents and greenway users alike. Heather graduated with her master's degree in public and international affairs from Virginia Tech.

"Hale-Y Community Food Forest"

Doctoral forestry student Catherine Bukowski used her grant to help develop and expand the Hale-Y's community food forest.

“A feasibility study to reduce sugar sweetened beverage consumption among middle school youth in Buchanan County, VA.”

Behavioral and Community Science doctoral student, Hannah Lane, submitted this winning proposal. The selection committee said “it is an excellent example of the blending of best practices in community engagement and community-based research”.

“One-on-one companion visit kits for dementia residents in a continuing care facility” student team

This team won a grant to implement and assess their one-on-one companion visit kits for dementia residents in a continuing care facility. The team includes three Human Development juniors Shelbie Turner, Lauren Byrd, and Katherine Eastham; senior Suh Yang (Psychology and Biology) and Anne Brown, who is pursuing a Ph.D. in Biochemistry.

Agroforestry club & Hale-Y Community Garden Food Forest student team

This team won for their proposal to provide a workshop through the Argoforestry club and Hale-Y Community Garden Food Forest.This is an interdisciplinary team with three students from Forest Resources and Environmental Conservation: Catherine Bukowski, Pulelehua Kimball, Steven Kruger, as well as Samuel Barnes (civil engineering), Gabe Pent (crop and soil environmental sciences), and Keith O’Herrin (Urban Forestry.)

Nina Miller, a sophomore in Agribusiness, designed a project to revitalize a community garden that grows produce to donate to the Giving Tree Food Pantry.

Tana M. Schiewer, who is pursuing her degree in Rhetoric & Writing, used her grant to create a workshop for staff at nonprofits to help them create compelling communication messages.