Media release

Fellowships can send college students on quest for discovery

Past recipients performed at an improv festival in Minnesota, worked at a South African wildlife sanctuary, and volunteered at a Costa Rican orphanage

College students yearning for adventure have until February 20 to apply for fellowships of up to $5,000 through the Michael P. Metcalf Memorial Fund at the Rhode Island Foundation.

“This can be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for students to expand their horizons through travel and discovery,” said David N. Cicilline, the Foundation’s president and CEO. Over the years, the fund has awarded fellowships to more than 100 students to visit places ranging from Appalachia to Zaire.

In 2022, Emily Gray received $5,000 to travel to Ireland to explore the intersection of Irish pagan deities and the Catholic church, a project that required extensive travel throughout the entire country. Of Irish heritage, she also wanted to visit extended family there.

"I experienced a self-reckoning that I would not have had without the opportunity to go on a journey in my ancestral homeland, an intense personal journey that allowed me to reconnect with parts of myself that had become unmoored."

The fund’s goal is to broaden student perspectives and enhance personal growth. Permitted uses include domestic and foreign travel as well as participation in internship and public service programs. Grants cannot be used for standard semester-abroad programs or for post-graduate travel.

Applicants can attend out-of-state colleges and universities but must be legal residents of Rhode Island. Grants are not intended for purchase of equipment or other capital expenses. Applications must include a thorough description of the proposed activities, demonstrate clear purpose and show financial need.

Criteria for evaluating applications include clarity and thoughtfulness, creativity, motivation, evidence of self-direction and initiative and financial need. At the conclusion of their project, recipients must submit a final report describing the value of their experience in furthering their long-term goals.

The Michael P. Metcalf Memorial Fund was established in 1989 to honor the memory of the late publisher of the Providence Journal. When she helped establish the Fund, Metcalf’s widow Charlotte explained, “I wanted to provide an opportunity for students to imagine an experience that might be transformative and to be bold enough to leave their normal course of study to live it.”

The Christine T. Grinavic Adventurer's Fund supplements the Metcalf awards. The fund honors the memory of Grinavic, a University of Rhode Island graduate and 2001 Metcalf Fellowship winner who was lost at sea in 2007.

Here is more information about applying for a fellowship from the Metcalf and Grinavic Funds.

The Rhode Island Foundation is the largest and most comprehensive funder of nonprofit organizations in Rhode Island. Through civic leadership, fundraising and grant-making activities, often in partnership with individuals and organizations, the Foundation is improving the lives of all Rhode Islanders.