Media release

Rhode Island Foundation offers fellowships to college students for travel and discovery

Past winners performed at an improv festival in Minnesota, did an internship in Washington, D.C., and volunteered at a Costa Rican orphanage

College students yearning for adventure have until March 2 to apply for fellowships through the Michael P. Metcalf Memorial Fund at the Rhode Island Foundation. Recipients will have until December 31, 2022 to complete their travel.

“These fellowships can be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for students to follow their dreams. In times like this, that’s more important than ever. This can give students something extraordinary to look forward to as the pandemic subsides in time,” said Kelly Riley, who administers the program.

The Foundation will give students up to $5,000 to pursue self-designed enrichment projects that include travel. Over the years, the fund has awarded fellowships to more than 100 students to visit sites ranging from Appalachia to Zaire. Past recipients have performed at an improv festival in Minnesota, done an internship in Washington, D.C., and volunteered at a Costa Rican orphanage.

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.

The Rhode Island Foundation is the largest and most comprehensive funder of nonprofit organizations in Rhode Island. Through leadership, fundraising and grant-making activities, often in partnership with individuals and organizations, the Foundation is helping Rhode Island reach its true potential. Get more information about applying for a Metcalf Fellowship.