District provides global grant scholar with a world of opportunity
Jessica Clendenning (right) visits a dairy farm in the Netherlands with a group of students studying the environment and rural livelihoods. Photo courtesy of Jessica Clendenning
Jessica Clendenning wants to make life better for people in poor communities by sharing best practices for sustainable development. A Rotary Foundation Global Grant scholarship sponsored by District 6150 (Arkansas, USA) is helping her realize that goal.
Clendenning is earning her master’s in development studies at the Erasmus University International Institute of Social Studies in Rotterdam, the Netherlands.
“This program will enable me to learn about the challenges communities face at local and regional levels, as well as the challenges to sustainable development from social, economic, and political perspectives,” she says. “I will learn how to initiate better infrastructure for social, health, and educational needs.”
Clendenning’s scholarship is also supporting her work toward an advanced certificate in disaster risk reduction at École Polytechnique Fédérale de Lausanne in Switzerland. Disaster risk reduction involves identifying ways to lessen the effects of climate- and water-related hazards in communities. In November, she traveled to India for a group project, helping to protect water resources and safeguard livelihoods in an area recovering from the 2004 tsunami.
“These courses combine to give me strong training in sustainable community development,” she says. “I will be able to use both courses to advance my studies, research, and future skills in development work.”
Her global grant scholarship supports the economic and community development area of focus under the Foundation’s Future Vision Plan. It is the first of three global grant scholarships sponsored by District 6150.
Clendenning previously worked for Heifer International, which the district has partnered with in a program to help feed orphans. She had originally applied for an Ambassadorial Scholarship, before the district began participating in the Future Vision pilot, says Robert Warner, a past district governor and chair of the district’s Rotary Foundation committee. Because of her “passion for giving back, and our long-standing relationship with Heifer International, we felt Jessica was an ideal candidate to be our first global grant scholar,” he says.
Warner says the district’s preparation for the pilot helped lay the groundwork for the global grant scholarships. “Our governor, governor-elect, and I met with our scholarship committee to explain the six areas of focus and other requirements,” he says. “Also, a five-person team held six grant management seminars around the district and asked every club to send two members to the seminars.” This helped all of the district’s 41 clubs to meet qualification and stewardship requirements, he says.
A good working relationship with District 1600, the host district in the Netherlands, was instrumental in providing Clendenning with a positive and smooth scholarship experience, especially in arranging a host counselor and club, Warner explains.
“Many of the same promotional strategies for Ambassadorial Scholarships can be used for global grant scholarship applicants,” says Warner, who advises districts to get an early start and work hard to find qualified candidates. The scholarships cover most expenses and fund graduate-level study, he adds, which are “true advantages for the student to gain education to really make a difference.” The grant minimum is $30,000, but scholarship funding is based on the district’s financial resources and the students’ needs.
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