MIDDLEBURY, Vt. ? The Davis Projects for Peace program has announced that students from 79 colleges and universities in the Davis United World College (UWC) Scholar Program will receive $1 million in funding to undertake their proposed projects. Students from Middlebury College developed two of the winning proposals. The Middlebury College Office of the President has also announced that the college will provide funding for four additional proposals.

The program, in its second year, honors philanthropist Kathryn Wasserman Davis, who launched the initiative on the occasion of her 100th birthday in 2007. Designed to encourage and support motivated youth to create and implement ideas for building peace throughout the world in the 21st century, each of the 100 winning projects will receive $10,000 in funding.

The winning projects propose specific plans of action - from youth empowerment and education programs to improved community water supplies and a multitude of agrarian enterprises in countries where famine is pervasive. Students will travel to more than 54 countries over the summer to work on their projects and report on their experiences once they return.

Of the 23 proposals submitted by Middlebury College students, two were awarded funding:

“Giving Afghan People Access to Clean Water,” submitted by first-year Kabul native Shabana Natisa Basij-Rasikh, proposes to situate six strategically dug wells across different areas so that nearly 6,000 people in Afghanistan benefit from clean drinking water.

“Healing the Rift,” a project submitted by sophomores Nick Alexander, Shujaat Ali Khan, Saad Ahmed Khan and Alexander Kent, who hope to generate a solidarity movement between moderate Muslims and other American groups through the organization of a mass rally in New York City.

In addition, the Middlebury College Office of the President announced that the college will provide funding for four more Middlebury proposals. “We were so impressed by the depth and promise of all the proposals that we wanted to maximize the opportunities for these students to undertake their projects,” said Middlebury College President Ronald D. Liebowitz.

The additional projects are:

“The Cuban Community in Madrid: Peace through Alternative Perspectives,” submitted by seniors Michael Joshua Fletcher and Sam Morrill, hopes to foster peace by highlighting this Cuban community of Madrid as a possible alternative to the confrontational, polarized model of Miami and Havana.
“Animal Husbandry in India,” submitted by sophomore Lisa Mariko Gretebeck proposes to empower the community of Jamkhed, in the Indian state of Maharashtra, by sharing knowledge on animal husbandry and disease prevention.

“Student Friends of Tibetan Refugees,” submitted by sophomore Tenzing Sherpa and junior Matthew Vaughan, proposes to establish an organization in Nepal that will focus on developing three areas of need within the Tibetan refugee community: education, transportation and fundraising.

“Fostering Environmental Security through Youth Education and Empowerment,” submitted by first-year Zaheena Rasheed and sophomore Emily Francis Reed plans to conduct environmental education workshops in the Maldives, with groups of young adults aged between 14-18 years.

Davis Projects for Peace invited students from schools participating in the Davis UWC Scholars Program to submit plans for grassroots projects for peace, to be implemented during the summer of 2008. A competition for the funding took place on 79 of the 88 campuses in the UWC Scholars Program, which provides grants to select American colleges and universities in support of students from all over the world who have completed their pre-university studies at UWC schools. The 12 UWC schools are located on five continents and dedicated to promoting international understanding through education.

“We are grateful to the students, faculty and staff who participated in this year’s competition,” said Executive Director of the Davis UWC Scholars Program Philip O. Geier. “Kathryn Davis is a leader, and with this challenge she has set in motion a growing number of young people committed to putting into place the building blocks for peace.”

Davis is an internationalist and philanthropist, and the mother of Shelby M.C. Davis, who funds the Davis UWC Scholars Program. “My many years have taught me that there will always be conflict,” said Davis. “It’s part of human nature. But love, kindness, and support are also part of human nature, and my challenge to these young people is to bring about a mindset of preparing for peace instead of preparing for war.”

A complete list of the participating schools and projects, as well as a summary of the 2008 projects and a video interview with Davis from 2006, is available on the program’s Web site at www.davisprojectsforpeace.org.