Uncommon Fund advances 83 applicants to second round

The applicants were selected from an initial pool of 124.

By Benjamin Pokross

Some 83 Uncommon Fund applicants advanced to a second round of review by the Uncommon Fund Board last night.

The total number of first-round applications decreased this year to 124 from 146, according to fourth-year Board member Amy Hua. Third-year board member Hannah Lotus said that the decline might be due to the new application process which requires applicants to submit a 60-second video rather than the detailed budget plan of past years.

“I think perhaps the video, while it did give us a different perspective, was a little intimidating,” Lotus said. “Maybe some people thought that we had to have a professional video, which wasn’t the case.”

The new process seems to have changed the caliber of projects, according to SG Vice President for Administration and second-year Forrest Scofield.

“I think that it made people think a little bit more,” he said. “The overall quality went up.”

Hua said that including the video put a face on the submissions. “The video brought the project to life for us, it made it human,” she said.

This year, the second round will be more similar to the first round in past years, requiring applicants to submit budgeting details and more extensive plans for the projects for the Board to review. Those details are due by February 24th at midnight, according to Hua.

“The first round evaluated the merit of the idea and the second determined the feasibility of the project,” Hua said.

As part of a requisite to receive an additional $25,000 in grant funds from Dean John Boyer, the Board had to have more student participation in selecting projects that would receive funding. As a result, they are incorporating student input in the advancement process and posting videos on the SG Web site so students can “thumbs-up” their favorite. The group with the most popular video will earn a dinner with Dean Boyer, according to Scofield.

“It’s sort of a separate prize,” Scofield said. “We wanted to give an incentive to publicize the Uncommon Fund.”

Fourth-year Christy Perera, whose Greeks Go Green idea has advanced to the second round, was concerned in the beginning that the Board would assess the projects based on technical skill and popularity.

“I was a little worried people would be judged on their editing or video production quality,” she said. “I think voting gets sort of messed up, it becomes a popularity contest, who can spam the most listhosts.”

Her project, which has gotten over one hundred views on YouTube, aims to put a dumpster in a central location to enable fraternities to easily recycle after parties.

Last year, about 35 projects moved to the second round and 26 received final funding, Scofield said. The committee will allocate the total of $75,000 in funds by March.