Students use shovels as they pull materials from a cliff during a research project near Two Rivers.
Summer research, including work done by Lawrence students last summer at Two Creeks Buried State Forest Natural Area, is funded via the Lawrence University Research Fellows (LURF) program. (Photo by Danny Damiani)

Lawrence University students need not look far to find funding to help them pursue their passions or other engaged learning opportunities. In most cases, it requires only a plan of action and a few minutes to fill out an application.

From summer internships to summer research to study abroad, the funding for experiential learning, mostly supported by alumni and other donors, is available from the time students come in as first-years until the time they walk across the stage at Commencement. It might provide a stipend for a coveted internship with a nonprofit; it might cover the travel costs for music students who qualify for a national competition; it might help bridge the expenses of field research that’s part of a Chandler Senior Experience project; it might help launch a community outreach initiative; or it might help lessen the financial burden that comes with studying in a foreign land.

The Career Center alone disbursed nearly $250,000 last year to students in support of experiential learning opportunities.

“These funds can help open doors to students as they seek out internships, pursue mentored research experiences, and engage in other forms of career development,” said Jacklyn John Fischer, interim dean of the Career Center and Center for Community Engagement and Social Change. “And these funds also offer the gift of time—time to focus on projects and experiences that align with their own interests and passions.”

Here’s a handy guide to some of the available funds at Lawrence:

Experiential Learning Funds

Funds available: Can range from $100 to $5,000 depending on scope of the project.

Need to know: These monies are available to offset costs of summer internships, volunteer work, mentored research projects, and other forms of career development. Much of the funding is intended to help students take on work that will expand their classroom learning and build skills in an area of career interest—covering expenses like travel, housing, research materials, and other living expenses. Students can, for example, use the funding to take an otherwise unpaid internship with a nonprofit that’s doing important community work, something that played out last summer when Lawrence launched the Social & Environmental Justice Cohort program, linking a dozen student interns with multiple nonprofits in Appleton and the Milwaukee metro area.

Where to find information: The Career Center provides details and deadlines for applying and a link to the application.

Words of wisdom: “Interested in pursuing funding for experiential learning but not sure where to start? Come visit the Career Center. Our advising team is eager to help you find an opportunity that excites you,” Fischer said.

Chandler Senior Experience

Funds available: Up to $3,000.

Need to know: Every Lawrence student needs to plan, develop, and execute a Chandler Senior Experience to graduate, all under the guidance of a faculty adviser. The costs can sometimes add up depending on the scope of the project. Chandler Senior Experience funds make it possible for Lawrence students to pursue ambitious projects. Students can apply for up to $3,000 in supportive funds. The projects are the culminations of students’ courses of study—representing independent, original work—and often are stepping stones to the next chapter in their lives.

Where to find information: Find details on the Chandler Senior Experience, including information on available funding.

Words of wisdom: “Music performance majors have commissioned new works for their senior recitals, science majors have engaged in cutting-edge research in the laboratory, and students in the humanities and social sciences have been able—pre-Covid—to travel for field research and work in archives and libraries around the world,” said Peter Blitstein, associate dean of the faculty. “Chandler funds have been used by film studies students to cover the expenses of renting equipment and studio art majors for materials and supplies for their works contributing to the senior show.”

Summer research

Funds available: Up to $4,160 + free summer housing on campus.

Need to know: Every summer, about 100 Lawrence students are paid to engage in collaborative research and other creative activity with faculty across the university. In addition to a full-time stipend for 10 weeks of work, students are offered free housing on campus. It started as an initiative primarily for the natural sciences, but in recent years the Lawrence University Research Fellows (LURF) program has grown to include faculty in the Conservatory, the arts, humanities, and social sciences. The work gives students the chance to develop skills in research, critical thinking, and organizing.

Where to find informationFind details on applying for summer research positions. And read this story on research experiences from last summer.

Words of wisdom: “For many of the students, summer research represents critical experience to prepare them for postgraduate education,” Blitstein said. “Donor funds, grants, and the operating budget work together to support the most characteristic of Lawrence’s traits—close collaboration that benefits students and faculty alike.”

Community service, social change

Funds available: Up to $5,000.

Need to know: The Center for Community Engagement and Social Change (CCE) stewards the Summer Volunteer Opportunity Grant (SVOG) and works closely with LUCC’s Committee on Community Service and Engagement (CCSE) to administer the Humanitarian Projects Grant. Both give students a financial assist for projects that do good in the world.

The SVOG was established in 1991 to support students interested in planning and implementing service projects. Applicants are expected to design a service project or to secure acceptance in an existing service program.

The Humanitarian Projects Grant is another option. It provides funding for students performing service on campus, in the Fox Cities or in the world at large. The grant can be used to fund domestic and international service experiences, or to support students or student organizations interested in hosting a philanthropic fundraising event.

Where to find information: For the SVOG, you can log into the funding application. And details of the Humanitarian Projects Grant are provided by CCE.

Words of wisdom: “It’s important that we recognize the socioeconomic privilege embedded in historical models of service and experiential learning,” said Garrett Singer, director of the CCE. “Travel and materials costs, living expenses, and lost summer wages can create significant barriers for students who are interested in engaging in service. These funds allow students to access opportunities for personal and professional development that will enrich their Lawrence experience.”

Study abroad

Funds available: Scholarships typically range from $1,000 to $2,000; also, financial aid can be used while studying abroad.

Need to know: Lawrence students looking to study abroad can apply for Off-Campus Programs scholarships that can help offset costs related to passports, flights, or daily living expenses. The need-based scholarships are funded by donors who want to support study abroad opportunities for all students. Many of those donors are alumni who studied abroad themselves. Lawrence also adjusted its financial aid rules in 2019 to make it easier to use that aid while studying abroad.

Where to find information: Details and a scholarship application are provided by Off-Campus Programs.

Words of wisdom: “Many of our students have expressed gratitude that without these donor scholarships they would not have been able to consider options that otherwise would have been out of reach—like pursuing an international internship, being the first in their family to study abroad, or to explore a country they had only dreamed of visiting,” said Lezlie Weber, director of Off-Campus Programs.

Conservatory of Music

Funds available: Chandler Senior Experience up to $3,000; Sturm and Jordheim typically range from $2,000 to $4,000; Con Squared up to $5,000.

Need to know: A growing number of Conservatory students have been using Chandler Senior Experience funding to cover special costs tied to their senior recitals. In the past couple of years, for example, Emily Austin ’20 and Nick Fahrenkrug ’20 both embarked on elaborate video projects for their senior recitals, tapping into available funds along the way. They aren’t alone.

“I’ve seen students commission new pieces—it’s fun for them to premiere a work, but it’s also important DEI work because they’re commissioning from living composers who are BIPOC or women, so they’re expanding the repertoire of their instrument in meaningful ways,” said Rosie Cannizzo, director of Conservatory operations.

The Conservatory also has other available funds, including the Fred Sturm Inspiration Fund and the Jordheim Fund, meant to assist music students in pursuing participation in festivals or summer programs.

Con Squared funds, meanwhile, provide stipends for students doing internships with Carnegie Hall, New York Jazz Academy, or Deep Listening Institute. 

Where to find information: Details are available for Senior Experience fundsfor Fred Sturm Inspiration funds; for the Jordheim Fund; and for internship or other avenues in the arts.

Words of wisdom: “Student-initiated experiential learning opportunities can be life-changing for our Conservatory students,” said Brian Pertl, dean of the Conservatory. “With each passing year, there are more and more endowed funds available to support our students’ dream projects. With these funds, students have commissioned and premiered dozens of new musical works; undertaken internships at arts organizations across the country, traveled to Europe, Africa, and South America to explore a wide variety of music traditions; designed and implemented community outreach projects; and have written, recorded, and produced their own albums or video projects. These funds help turn dreams into reality. It is a beautiful thing to see.”