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First Year Seminar receives $10,000 community grant

November 9, 2015
Students in the "I Want to Ride My Bicycle" course meet with members of the Des Moines Bike Collective on September 30.

First-year students in the "I Want to Ride My Bicycle: Cycling and Social Change" course meet with members of the Des Moines Bike Collective on September 30.

A group of first-year students at Drake University received a $10,000 grant to implement a plan that will make the campus more bicycle-friendly.

The Wellmark Foundation announced today that students in Drake’s “I Want to Ride My Bicycle: Cycling and Social Change” class are among the recipients of the foundation’s inaugural Community Kickstarter grants

The project will allow for students, faculty, and staff members to rent bicycles and safety equipment on campus, increase the security of personally owned bicycles, and offer online training courses in bike safety for cyclists and motorists.

First Year Seminar instructor Erin Hurley Smith, adjunct professor of journalism, says making Drake more bike-friendly will give more students an opportunity to connect with the community before they graduate, increasing the likelihood they’ll choose to live and work in the city.

The class which has also included a field experience at the Des Moines Bike Collective, has been a transformative learning experience for some of the newest members of Drake's student body.

"By competing for the grant, our students developed their outreach and advocacy skills through educating others about the project and asking for their support," said Smith. "By earning the grant, our students will grow by realizing their vision to create social change at Drake University and the Drake neighborhood through a bike sharing program, secure storage and bike safety education."

"As first-year students, they recognize they are uniquely positioned to impact their University and community and they are very appreciative of the Wellmark Foundation grant that will make their project possible."

The Wellmark Foundation named 121 finalists for their community grants in late September. The 32 grant recipients submitted projects that promise a long-lasting impact on community health by making “the smart choice the easy choice and improving overall community health and wellness” in Greater Des Moines.