Georgetown awards funding to 5 projects that support Descendant communities

Georgetown has awarded $200,000 to five inaugural recipients of the Reconciliation Fund, a university fund that provides $400,000 per year to projects that benefit communities of Descendants whose ancestors were enslaved on Jesuit plantations in Maryland and sold and forcibly moved to Louisiana in 1838.

The Fund, inspired by a student referendum, began accepting applications last fall. Georgetown students and Descendants worked together to review and recommend the five awardee projects, which focus on engaging young adults in rebuilding blighted homes in New Orleans; providing free legal services to families of loved ones with severe mental illnesses; uniting and connecting members of the Descendant community; launching a high school tutoring program co-organized by a Descendant and Georgetown community members; and providing youth programming. The fund will award two phases of grants each year, with the second awards cycle beginning this spring.

“The Reconciliation Fund is a collective effort—an example of our community’s deep commitment to the possibilities that can emerge when we work in partnership to advance Reconciliation,” says Georgetown President John J. DeGioia. “We are honored to recognize these inaugural recipients and are deeply grateful for their meaningful and important work to advance equity and justice.”

Programs poised to have a long-lasting impact

One of the inaugural recipients, Starting with Day 1 Building Confident Kids, will offer Saturday educational programming for children ages 7-12 at the community learning center in Maringouin, Louisiana, where many Descendants live. The project will provide engaging learning experiences that help children develop foundational skills in key academic areas, including reading and mathematics, and will assist participants in building their confidence, self-esteem, and mental strength.

Another grant winner, Mon Petit Maringouin, is a virtual mentoring and tutoring program that pairs 10 Georgetown students with students in the Maringouin’s newly opened North Iberville High School. The program provides high school students with homework assistance and help realizing their post-graduation plans. At the beginning of the school year, Georgetown students will travel to Maringouin to meet their mentees, and mentees will travel to Georgetown’s campus at the end of the year.

The program’s leaders—who include a Descendant and Georgetown Slavery Archive staff member, an adjunct professor in Georgetown’s The CALL program, a Georgetown alum, and a current Georgetown student—plan to help students who experienced learning loss during the pandemic but expand the program by providing extracurricular activities and a service component for mentees.

“Some of these projects are already well on their way to being successful, and we’re just opening the door for them to branch out and get necessary resources,” says Zac Colon (G’26), vice chair of the Student Awards Committee. “While others, like Starting from Day 1 and Mon Petit Maringouin, we hope to provide the foundation for these programs to leave a long lasting impact on Descendant communities.”

Read more about the five recipients of the Reconciliation Fund grants in this news story.

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