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CSF funnels MIT donations to city programs

During their years of study at MIT, hundreds of students give as well as receive education, offering their time and expertise to local children. This and other Cambridge community service activities are supported by the Community Service Fund (CSF), which itself needs support from the entire MIT community.

Each spring since 1968, the CSF has had a fundraising campaign which supports the work of MIT volunteers active in Cambridge-based community service projects. Any MIT student, faculty, staff or alumnus/a involved in such an activity may apply for funding. The CSF board of trustees (chaired this year by Rebecca M. Vest and Professor Woodie C. Flowers) made up of faculty, students, alumni/ae, staff and Corporation members meets twice a year to allocate this donated money to approximately 15 projects. In recent years, the board has been able to fund only about half the grant requests it receives.

Several CSF-funded programs have been operating at MIT for years. Under the guidance of the Public Service Center, the LINKS program sends many students to work with Cambridge elementary school children, assisting in the teaching and appreciation of science and engineering. LINKS also starts each year with CityDays, a program where children in grades 4-6 come to campus to learn about MIT people, facilities and academic focus.

Other projects include the spring elementary school science fair for Cambridge, hosted by MIT, and Keys to Empowering Youth, a program which brings young girls to campus to meet women students who are studying science and engineering. Additionally, the Edgerton Center, directed by Professor Kim Vandiver, regularly invites Cambridge school children and their teachers for hands-on science learning.

There are many other CSF-funded programs, some of which involve faculty participation. Other activities are homeless shelters and meal programs, youth job training and single-parent support programs, and teen activity and outreach programs.

Flyers and donation envelopes have been sent to all faculty and staff members, who are encouraged to give whatever they can, either via check or payroll deduction. If everyone who did not give last year contributed $1 per month this year, CSF could meet all the funding requests it expects to consider later this spring, said Paul Parravano, assistant for community relations and secretary of the CSF board of trustees.

"CSF has very little overhead, since it is managed under the umbrella of the Office of Government and Community Relations, and it also adds significant financial muscle to the ample good will among us," he said. "This is a way in which we can all pitch in to say thanks to those of us who do good work in the community."

Another fundraising vehicle for the program is the annual CSF Road Race on May 3. Those interested in running should clip, fill out and mail the registration form below. Questions and comments may be addressed to Mr. Parravano at x3-3873 or Joanna Wolfe at x3-1989.

A version of this article appeared in MIT Tech Talk on April 16, 1997.

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