7,000 students called on to submit proposals for creative community service projects, and compete for funding

A leading Greek American community organization is launching a national campaign this month to recognize and support Greek American students who are active in community service.

More than 7,000 Hellenic American students on over 200 college campuses throughout the U.S are being invited by the Next Generation Initiative to submit proposals for service projects they will undertake in their local communities.

Up to ten proposals will receive small grants to implement smaller-scale projects, and the three top teams in the Next Generation National Student Competition will be invited to present their proposals to an independent panel of leaders in public service, education and the professions, at the Greeks Give Back Competition Finals in Washington, DC later this year. All three finalists will receive monetary grants to implement their projects.

The Greeks Give Back Challenge is inspired by Greek American students and Hellenic student associations already involved in service to their campuses and communities.

“We learned from our Got Greek? National Student Research Study that there are some great examples of what students are doing on and off their campuses to give back to their communities. We want to get those stories out there, so people can see what young people are already doing,” says Leon Stavrou, Executive Director of the Next Generation Initiative.

By organizing the competition, and offering support to teams with viable proposals, the backers of the Greeks Give Back Challenge hope to recognize and and reward students who reach out to help others.

“Giving back is the hallmark of a leader — and the sign of a strong community. The students who make an effort to lead and learn through community service and teamwork today, are the young men and women who will be our leaders in the future,” says Stavrou.

“We aim to encourage all young Greek Americans to give back,” says Stavrou.

Rep. John Sarbanes, the Greek-American Congressman whose focus on Hellenism in the Public Service is resonating throughout the Greek-American community, says the Next Generation National Student Competition “recognizes the aspirations of younger Greek-Americans to vigorously engage in the broader society by giving back in ways that make for a stronger and more just world.”

“When I first began to think about Hellenism in the Public Service, I was confident that we would discover many able and energetic Greek-Americans giving back to the broader society,” says Congressman Sarbanes. “The Next Generation Initiative recognizes the aspirations of younger Greek-Americans to vigorously engage in the broader society by giving back in ways that make for a stronger and more just world in which we live.”

The Student Competition is a “thoughtful and inspiring way to help young Greek-Americans harness the power of their imagination and ideas,” says Congressman Sarbanes. “By challenging students with competitive grants for the creation of innovative concepts that will broadly impact society, the Competition empowers young Greek-Americans with the tools needed to make their dreams a reality.”

The Next Generation National Student Competition is made possible by a generous grant from the Zapis Charitable Foundation, along with additional support from the Maliotis Charitable Foundation, the Gerondelis Foundation and others.

The Competition welcomes proposals from student groups that have experience conducting service projects and want to grow their efforts and impact, as well as from small or new groups seeking to launch their first project aimed at community service.

“We invite students to make their voices heard by showing how they get involved and lead change on their campus or in their community,” says Aphrodite Bouikidis, program director for the Initiative.

According to Bouikidis, the Competition guidelines call for “creative proposals, developed with guidance from academic advisors and outside mentors, that emphasize community service, require teamwork, involve their peers, reflect their heritage, and make a positive difference in the lives of others.”

The Competition is open to teams representing all or part of a Hellenic student association, individual students of Hellenic descent who choose to work with members of an existing Hellenic student association, as well as to students who are just forming a new Hellenic student association on their campus.

Students win extra points for recruiting their peers in other campus clubs, alumni, off-campus peers, and local community members or community organizations to partner with their team and participate in the development and implementation of their projects.

By encouraging students to work with outside groups and mentors, the Initiative hopes the competition will encourage more students get involved with each other and their local communities, challenging them to get “outside the baklava box,” as Stavrou puts it. 

For more information about the Next Generation National Student Competition, and to submit a proposal, visit www.hellenext.org/got-greek.

The Next Generation National Student Competition is an outcome of the Got Greek? Project’s 2010 Next Generation National Student Research Study (www.gotgreek.org), an in-depth academically-supervised study involving nearly 1,000 university students of Hellenic descent, with the help of 50 Hellenic student associations and 30 Hellenic American community-based organizations.

The Next Generation Initiative is a 501(c)(3) non-profit educational foundation that helps next generation students gain the experience and skills through internships, fellowships, Master Classes and other opportunities that introduce students to leaders and mentors in a wide range of fields and professions, and strengthen their capacity to excel, innovate, collaborate, and serve as effective leaders in their communities. Learn more at www.hellenext.org