Campus Reform | WKU pays students for service projects, except these faith-based ones

WKU pays students for service projects, except these faith-based ones

Certain faith-based projects are ineligible to receive funding for Western Kentucky University's citizenship and social justice-themed scholarships.

The recipients of the $15,000 scholarships will be chosen “based on their ability to demonstrate a well-articulated vision, detailed plan, and high level of commitment to a substantial applied learning experience,” according to a news release from WKU.

WKU’s Center for Citizenship & Social Justice Director Leah Ashwill told Campus Reform that with regard to the projects for the scholarship, “preference will be given to projects that demonstrate an effort to have a sustainable impact.”

Projects that are ineligible to receive Scholars in Service funding include “faith-based projects that include proselytizing or evangelizing as part of the service experience, projects which promote or advocate for a political candidate or party, and internships that are required by a student's degree program,” Ashwill told Campus Reform.

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Applicants to the program, titled Scholars in Service, candidates must present a plan to the school and, if accepted, will be expected to work locally, domestically, or abroad on projects which “have a primary purpose of serving others and/or contributing to a citizenship or social justice cause.”

The number of recipients of the scholarship will change each year depending on how much funding is required for the approved projects in a given year. She suggested that the scholarship was in line with the WKU mission “of preparing students of all backgrounds to be productive, engaged, and socially responsible citizen-leaders of a global society.”

Upon getting selected for scholarships, students are notified and then move to schedule a meeting with the program coordinator to go over the scholarship requirements, such as submitting project receipts and written reflections after having finished the project.

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Ashwill told Campus Reform that past scholarship funds have been allocated to “fund curricular or co-curricular service learning projects, study abroad or study away trips that have a service component, alternative break trips with a service component, conference presentation opportunities, applied or community-based research projects, or internships in the public sector.”

The director clarified that faith-based projects that do not contain evangelism and proselytizing would be acceptable, rationalizing the ban on those involving the aforementioned elements by noting that WKU was a state-funded, public school.

"We have students from all walks of life accessing these funds...for a wide variety of applied learning experiences," Ashwill told Campus Reform. "To suggest that there are bias issues...would be completely false."

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