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Jonathan M. Tisch College of Civic Life

Tisch Fund - Funded Projects

Tisch Fund 2017

The Tisch Fund for Civic Engagement provides funds for student-led events, projects, and programs that contribute to civic life on or off campus, in the United States or around the world. In the 2016-2017 academic year, the Tisch Fund helped support 28 projects with nearly $25,000. Below are examples of funded projects from the past academic year:

Religion, Law, and Diplomacy Conference

Students: Denise Baltuskonis, F17; Sarah Saleeb, F17
The second annual Religion, Law, and Diplomacy Conference, hosted at The Fletcher School, sought to integrate research and policy on religion and international relations. Under the theme "Religion and Human Security,"  the conference addressed the ways religion affects some of the greatest challenges facing global politics today, including migration, resettlement, and issues of identity and citizenship.

Building Bridges Research Symposium

Students: Rafael Loss, F17; Suzanne Webb, F17
The inaugural Building Bridges Research Symposium, an undergraduate research conference, was held at the Fletcher School in November 2016 and was an opportunity for undergraduate and Fletcher students to learn from one another in areas of mutual research interest. Ten Tufts undergraduate students were selected to present their research in front of peers, Fletcher graduate students, professors, and staff on one of three panels divided by interest area. The keynote address was delivered by the Henry J. Leir Professor of International Humanitarian Studies Kimberly Theidon.

Community-Based Schistosomiasis Control in Ghana

Student: Alexandra Kulinkina, G17
Urogenital schistosomiasis is a neglected tropical disease that presents with symptoms of bloody urine and painful urination and can lead to bladder cancer later in life. Insufficient access to good-quality safe water sources, lack of education, poor sanitation, and lack of locally available treatment all contribute to the spread of schistosomiasis. The project advocated for children living in impoverished rural areas of sub-Saharan Africa who bear the responsibility of fetching water from contaminated water sources with ample opportunity for infection and limited means to protect themselves. The primary goal of this project was to increase awareness and knowledge by delivering individually targeted reports to communities, summary reports to key stakeholders, and educational materials to schools. Feedback from stakeholders helped inform how the new knowledge contributes to a more sustainable and collaborative community-based control strategy.

Dental Central Community Service and Leadership Development

Students: Aekta Patel, D18; Nari Park, D19; Pouya Namiranian, D19
Dental Central supported Tufts University School of Dental Medicine students' development as active citizens in several ways: by growing its leadership development work; helping students target their oral health prevention education materials and presentations for community members, particularly seniors and people with disabilities; and strengthening internal communication through a DC Bulletin Board that highlights Community Service Learning and upgrading DC’s social wall, which students us in real time when they are at community events.

Surgery for the Vulnerable

Student: Joseph Kahan, M17
Many low- and middle-income countries have made tremendous progress in the care of infectious disease, but there still remains a robust need to combat injuries and other non-communicable diseases through surgical care. Joseph traveled to Haiti with a pediatric surgeon who has been serving the region for 50 years to assist him with patient care and observation, and work with community health workers doing home visits, follow up care, and contributing to the initiative.

The Role of Corporations in Creating Social Change

Students: Benjamin Costigan, F17; Harper Gay, F17
Fletcher Net Impact is a student club at The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy, and a chapter of the national Net Impact organization. On a national level, Net Impact is a network-based non-profit organization based on the belief that business can be a force for good in the world. Benjamin and Harper organized an hour-long workshop during which Net Impact conference in Philadelphia where attendees presented the various models for corporate change put forth during the conference, and then moderated a conversation among Tisch Scholars to debate their merits.


Students: Brett Isaacs, A19; Matthew Felsenfeld A17; Austin Kane, A18
Tufts CIVIC is an organization that meets once a week for a roundtable discussion of relevant political topics. We strongly encourage opinions from all over the political spectrum and require that all discussion, be it on the powers of the presidency or infrastructure, be respectful and civil. CIVIC is a club dedicated to facilitating conversation about topics that make members think and change their opinions, or force them to defend an opinion they already hold. CIVIC also dedicates itself to civic involvement outside the club and we are constantly looking for ways to encourage our members to be active in the local and national community. This involves going to see speakers on and off the Tufts campus as well as collecting internship information so that present and future members have an expanded pool of connections, and partnering with groups such as Jumbo Votes to make sure as many Tufts students are involved in civic life as possible.

Conference on Gender and International Affairs

Students: Rachel Porter, F17; Ally Hawkins, F17; Anna Ackerman, F17
The Second Annual Conference on Gender and International Affairs was held at The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy on December 2 and 3, 2016 and continues a tradition of student and faculty advocacy at The Fletcher School that challenges the institution to integrate gender analyses into all aspects of the institution and its work. This year’s theme Gender-Sensitive Leadership: Putting Theory into Practice, built on the ongoing feminist examination of power structures and gendered institutions to identify the contexts and strategies that support gender-sensitive leadership in the diplomatic, business, and security sectors.

Health Impact Partnership

Stduent: Hailey Evans, M19
The Health Impact Partnership (HIP) is an after school program at English High School organized and led by Tufts University medical students. We work with a group of bright and passionate teenagers to identify community health problems and understand the influence of social and environmental determinants of health. Our curriculum provides an overview of a wide variety of topics that influence physical, mental, and emotional well-being, allowing the students to apply this knowledge to their own experiences, observations, and interests. To encourage advocacy and activism, many of the units in our curriculum include a community service component. Additionally, in an effort to present topics related to public health through a variety of perspectives, HIP partners with local non-profit organizations, such as Southern Jamaica Plain Health Center, Boston Mobilization, the Arnold Arboretum, Alternatives for Community and Environment, and the YWCA.

Music Mentoring

Student: Lauren Jacobs, A17
Music Mentoring is a program for music students at Tufts to work with music students in the Somerville Public Schools. The program is overseen by Edith Auner, coordinator of outreach in the music department and Richard Saunders, head of music in Somerville Public Schools. Tufts students help with orchestra, band, and chorus classes and do everything from helping to tune instruments, playing in sections, and organizing music to teach small groups. The goal of this program is to make every minute count. As active citizens, the Tufts students who are music mentors give a great deal, but they also learn from the Somerville students and teachers they help.

Peds with Poems

Students: Jessica Evans-Wall, M19; Isaac Gendelman, M19
Peds with Poems brings inspirational words to patients at Tufts Floating Children's Hospital. This project facilitates kids of all ages in writing poetry to allow for a creative processing of their experience. Writing poetry offers patients a sense of accomplishment through writing an original piece. This project also aimed to build a feeling of community and decrease the isolation that comes with hospital admission, through sharing poems that transcend the experience in a book. Child Life Services distributed the book to inpatients and it will be available in the waiting and clinic rooms of the Hematology and Oncology floors at no cost. To make the book more accessible, we will hold illustrating sessions where patients can illustrate another patient’s poem. We hope that this integrated creativity will limit the loneliness that pediatric patients experience.

The State of Transgender Healthcare

Students: Lucien Rizzo, M19; Daniel Heller, M19; Nicholas Spanos, M19; Carly Martin, D18
The Biomedical Queer Alliance, a composite of all professional health schools (Medical, Dental, Sackler School), held an informational event on Transgender Healthcare on December 1st, 2016 to gather speakers and a professional panel to discuss the current state of trans healthcare services in the scope of availability, quality, and the current advances and drawbacks of surgical and non-surgical interventions. The event was headlined by Dr. Anne Koch, DMD, who shared her own story as a trans woman from her unique perspective as both a provider and patient. A professional panel composed of Dr. Julie Thompson (Primary Care, Fenway Health), Dr. Stephanie Roberts (Endocrinology, Boston Children’s Hospital), and Cei Lambert (Trans Patient Advocate, Fenway Health) joined Dr. Koch in an open discussion on the services they provide with both a medical and social perspective.

Tufts Chinatown Wellness Initiative

Students: Joshua Mann, M19; Kimberly Meyers, D18; Cynthia Cheng, N17
Tufts Chinatown Wellness Initiative (TCWI) is an interprofessional collaborative of the School of Medicine, School of Dental Medicine, and Friedman School of Nutrition that aims to promote health literacy and disease prevention in the surrounding community of Tufts University. Health literacy is strongly associated with one’s own health awareness and management of disease. Differences in levels of literacy and education attainment are drivers for health disparities within our own community. Its mission is to bridge these gaps through a monthly series of interactive seminars addressing public health issues that particularly affect our community in a language that is comprehendible and sensitive to our community’s cultural values. By delivering comprehensive health information as an interprofessional team, they ultimately aim to educate and empower community members to make better informed healthcare decisions.

Tufts Dental LGBTQA

Student: Leigh Ortiz, D18
The Tufts Dental LGBTQA is a student-run group which provides a safe and open environment for LGBTQ and allied dental students to connect, socialize and build awareness around LGBTQ health issues. We are working to expand student awareness and involvement and to increase community outreach, as well as foster partnerships with local organizations to promote oral health awareness within the LGBTQ community. We are striving to be the link between LGBTQ communities who experience heightened barriers to dental and healthcare access.

The Fourth Annual Fletcher Africana Conference

Students: Domoina Rambeloarison, F17; Stephen Allen, F17, The Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy
The 4th Annual Fletcher Africana Conference addressed security issues faced by Africa with the fast pace of the “digital revolution,” threats to global security, and a shift in its economic trajectory. In so doing, the Conference explored whether the continent has an opportunity to realize a new paradigm for its growth and prosperity. Under the theme of “Overcoming Unconventional Security Challenges in Africa,” the Conference panels and keynote speakers discussed the effects of insecurity on the continent on a wide range of industries and fields, including regional cooperation, humanitarian efforts, the tech industry, and the entrepreneurial climate.

Cuba Agroecology and Society

Students: Julie Kurtz, N18; Tessa Salzman, N18; Jamie Fanous, G18
Climate crisis and limited natural resources require our generation to consider more sustainable agricultural practices for feeding a growing global population. Cuba’s system of small-scale and urban agroecological farms, born out of dire necessity, has evolved into an alternative food system compared to modern industrial models. The purpose of our research project is to better understand the Cuban food system, and to assess the impacts of U.S. trade policy with Cuba on dietary health, the environment, and agroecological production models in Cuba. This research project aimed to draw connections between Cuban and U.S. policies and practices, seek opportunities to share knowledge, and consider possible applications of Cuban policies and practice within the U.S., including local policy and practice here in Boston.

Fight Against Health Disparities in Xela, Guatemala

Students: Joanna Dimas, A17
Timmy Global Health is a non-profit organization that focuses on health injustices and disparities and assists partner organizations with medical, financial, and human resources support. The Tufts Timmy Chapter volunteers in Xela, Guatemala. Nineteen students traveled to Xela in January 2017 where they volunteered at medical clinics in different communities that are predominantly indigenous. Tufts volunteers served more than 90 patients a day, often working alongside American and Guatemalan doctors.

Innovate Tufts: Fletcher Disrupts

Students: Miriam Freeman, F18; Emily Gannam, F18; Adi Sarosa, F18; Andrina Brunner, F17
This was the fourth annual Tufts Innovation Conference, bringing together students and practitioners from across campus and throughout the Boston area. Innovation Week (February 12–16, 2017) involved more than 200 participants in discussions on process innovations to address challenges in diplomacy, migration, peacebuilding, and development. Through an interactive human-centered design workshop, demo day, panel discussions, and "world cafe" networking, the event engaged attendees to propose solutions and problem-solve in real time. By convening students, faculty, and community members from Fletcher, Tufts, Harvard, MIT, and civil society organizations, the event leveraged the university's expertise for multidisciplinary collaboration and outcomes-oriented civic engagement

Let's Talk

Students: Eva Greenthal, N18; Danielle Krobath, N18; Kelly Kundratic, N18; Casey Florea, N18
Let’s Talk was organized to promote mutual respect, tolerance, and understanding across political lines through respectful dialogue and elevated empathy. Let’s Talk provided students the opportunity to gain new perspectives by “exiting the echo chamber” of politically like-minded institutions and developing relationships with students with different life experiences and political leanings.Let’s Talk is a partnership between the Tufts Friedman School and West Virginia University’s Davis College School of Agriculture and Food and included three components: 1. group discussion, 2. pen-pal pairings, and 3. community presentation. Discussion topics will included: how life experiences shape our worldviews, media bias, structural discrimination, systemic racism, political correctness, issues facing rural communities, and the future of food and agriculture.

One Trybe Company: Kenya Trip

Student: Aaron Mentos, A17
The One Trybe Company, a newly established social entrepreneurial company, uses music to raise money to put youth in Kenya through school. Many of these children would have no other means of funding their education in a country where even primary education is not free. In December, students toured schools in Kenya and offered song writing clinics to children and recording youth in Kenya. Our ultimate goal was to create a compilation of songs from Kenyan students which to be released on Itunes and band camp to raise awareness for the team's initiative and generate donations that will be put back towards the One Trybe Company initiative.

Storytelling to Promote Togetherness and Understanding

Students: Samantha Hoeffler, N17; Caitlin Joseph, N17
In the wake of a divisive political election season, some Americans are fearful of what is to come. Perhaps most troubling have been events in elementary and middle schools where young students -- students of color, immigrants, and girls -- are being targeted and bullied by other students due to the internalization of the more vicious rhetoric from the presidential campaigns. In an effort to counter the divisiveness from the campaign, and to address the fact that children are listening and taking to heart what adults say, this project started a storytelling group for young children with books that focus on the importance of racial and cultural diversity, solidarity, and empathy, as well as books that emphasize kindness. The books used were left in the schools to start a 'library of hope.'


Students: Alexander Ferrera A17; Alexander Spring, A17; Hannah Landsberger, A17

Tufts EMS-AID (Essential Medical Supplies and Activism for Inequities and Disasters) developed an initiative to provide essential medical supplies to underserved and disadvantaged communities throughout the world. The organization's current project focuses on the deteriorating health care crisis in Venezuela, where a failing national system has left most of its citizens without access to essential care. The group focuses on collecting surplus medical supply donations from local health facilities in the Boston area (many of which dispose of medical materials that still have value). All funds from campaign awareness events are utilized for purchasing supplementary items and transportation of supplies.

Tufts Energy Conference

Maggie Kellogg, F17; Erika Niedowski G17; Ali Schmidt-Fellner, F17

The Tufts Energy Conference, organized by graduate and undergraduate students from across the Tufts community, is an annual forum that brings together professionals, academics, industry experts, and students to discuss critical global energy issues. The 2017 conference seeks to spur thought, conversation, and creative action around the topic of Innovation for Global Energy Access. Populations in even the most remote areas of the world are gaining access to increasingly reliable, affordable, and diverse energy options. For the first time ever, global energy access is at the forefront of both private and public sector agendas, creating synergistic opportunities for new market entry and improved well-being of marginalized populations. The conference captured the questions, challenges, and exciting new developments within the global energy access landscape and explored the essential role of innovation in expanding energy access through the avenues of partnerships and funding, technological innovation, and policy and regulation.

Tufts University Refugee Assistance Program

Christopher Kearns-McCoy, A18
Tufts University Refugee Assistance Program (TU-RAP) is a joint program of graduate and undergraduate student volunteers who assist recently resettled refugees. In partnership with the Catholic Charities Archdiocese of Boston, groups of TU-RAP volunteers are paired with groups of refugees, whom they visit for the duration of the academic year, and many volunteers remain in contact with the refugees they visited long after their pairing through TU-RAP has officially ended. TU-RAP volunteers act as an extra support network for the refugees, beyond what the resettlement agency is able to provide. TU-RAP volunteers are an invaluable resource to help refugees in their difficult transition. They are a friendly face, someone who is dependable and has the time to listen to their problems. Often, the most important thing that a TU-RAP volunteer is to his or her paired refugees is simply a friend.

Colombia Trek

Fifteen students from the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy traveled to Colombia over Spring Break to challenges and opportunities facing Colombia in the wake of the historic peace agreement between the government and the Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia.

The Sharewood Project

Students: Nitin Jethmalani, M20, Eric Swanson, M20; Emily Fitzgerald, M20; Julia Zautcke G17
The Sharewood Project is a free health care education organization operated and administered by medical and graduate students from Tufts University School of Medicine and is entirely staffed by volunteer physicians from the Tufts University School of Medicine network, Tufts students, and interpreters. The primary goals of the Sharewood Project are: (1) to provide free health care education and health care services, including primary care and dental, nutritional, and vision screening, to medically underserved people and families, (2) to collaborate with local healthcare providers and community groups, specifically the Malden Family Health Center, to ensure continued patient care, (3) to provide personal wellness education through sexual/reproductive health and nutrition counseling to our target population, (4) to strongly encourage and assist uninsured clients in enrolling in health insurance programs to link them into the conventional health care system and (5) to instill the next generation of physicians with a lifelong commitment to public health and active citizenship by exposing them to medically underserved patient populations through clinical engagements.

Eighth Annual WSSS Symposium

Students: Lauren Lynch G17, Elisabeth Spratt, M17; Monique Ching, G17; Christine Van Fossen N18

The 8th Annual Water: Systems, Science and Society (WSSS) Symposium, titled Untapped Potential: Making Water Markets Work for All, is scheduled took place on April 21, 2017. The annual symposium is organized by graduate students from the WSSS program, which is an interdisciplinary graduate certificate program that seeks to provide students with the perspectives and tools needed to confront water-related problems in a variety of settings and scales. This year’s symposium focused on the potential value of water markets, including the potential for uniting urban and rural stakeholders in environmental stewardship, for inspiring public-private partnerships, and for providing flexible solutions to a variety of regional water-based issues. Speakers representing the private, public, and non-profit sectors provided perspectives on the value of water markets to mitigate water quantity and water quality issues and discussed current water quality trading markets in the United States and abroad.

Race Dialogue Series

Students: Sarah Al-Najar, M20; Donna Okoli, M20
The goal of the Dialogues on Race and Ethnicity is to create a safe environment in which students can participate in an honest and open discussion about race within the community as part of their medical school education. YWCA Boston will facilitate the Dialogues by leading discussions on race and ethnicity while promoting a safe and inclusive environment. This project culminated in the creation of an action plan to integrate racial justice into the TUSM community. Twenty-five participants engaged in this project, committing to five weekly, two-hour sessions. By the end of the five sessions, participants better understood the role race plays in our daily interactions and learned how to move beyond perceived differences to connect with individuals of different racial and ethnic backgrounds.