Davis Projects for Peace


Davis Projects for Peace was created in 2007 through the generosity of Kathryn W. Davis, a lifelong internationalist and philanthropist who died in 2013 at 106 years of age. She is the mother of Shelby M.C. Davis who funds the Davis United World College Scholars Program currently involving over 90 American colleges and universities. Mrs. Davis’ legacy will live on through the continuation of Projects for Peace in order to spark initiatives for building prospects for peace in the world. The Davis family and friends believe, like Mrs. Davis did, that today’s youth – tomorrow’s leaders – ought to be challenged to formulate and test their own ideas.

Davis Projects for Peace is an invitation to undergraduates at the American colleges and universities in the Davis United World College Scholars Program to design grassroots projects for building peace that they will implement during a single summer. The projects judged to be the most promising and do-able will be funded at $10,000 each.

Purpose of Davis Projects for Peace

Davis hopes to encourage student initiative, innovation and entrepreneurship focusing on conflict prevention, resolution, or reconciliation.

Some of the most compelling projects to date have reflected one or more of the following characteristics:

  • contributing to conflict prevention;
  • ameliorating conditions leading to violence/conflict;
  • looking for and building on shared attributes among differing peoples, races, ethnicities, tribes, clans, etc.;
  • fostering diplomacy or otherwise contribute to advancing peace processes underway;
  • promoting economic opportunity and entrepreneurship among those in post-conflict areas;
  • finding creative ways to bring people on opposite sides of issues together, such as through art, sports, music or other techniques to promote a common humanity;
  • developing leadership and mediation skills training for those in conflict or post-conflict societies;
  • starting or leveraging initiatives, organizations (e.g. education, health) or infrastructure projects to build/rebuild community.

In general, projects should be building blocks for a sustainable peace. The overall program is intended to be worldwide in scope and impact, but specific projects may be undertaken anywhere, including in the U.S.


Undergraduate students at any of the Davis United World College Scholars partner schools (including seniors who would complete their projects after graduation) are eligible – so long as the president of their institution has signed and returned the grant participation agreement form. All undergraduates, not just Davis UWC Scholars at those schools, are eligible. Groups of students from the same campus, as well as individual students, may submit proposals.

The intention is to fund 100 projects, with at least one at each of the Davis UWC Scholar schools. Final decisions on all grants are made by the Davis UWC Scholars Program office.

Davis Projects for Peace homepage

Grinnell's Nomination Process

The Grinnell College Davis Projects for Peace Nominating Committee will nominate one project and one alternate in this competition. Final approval of all recommended proposals rests solely with the office of the Davis UWC Scholars Program, which will then forward the grant funds to each school with winning project(s).

Communication between students writing proposals and the Davis UWC Scholars office is prohibited. Direct all questions to Simone Sidwell, Coordinator of the Peace and Conflict Studies Program. Students are strongly encouraged to make an appointment with Simone to discuss their project before submitting proposals. Students should also visit Davis Projects for Peace for important information and to see past winning projects.

To apply for Grinnell's nomination, submit the following materials electronically to Simone Sidwell with the subject line “Davis application” by Friday, Jan. 31, 2020.

  • One Scholarship Nomination Permission Form and Waiver for each applicant, whether or not they attend Grinnell College
  • A written proposal which describes the project (who, what, where, how) including expected outcomes and prospects for future impact (not to exceed two pages) , with the name and class year of each applicant on each page. Important: All written project proposals require a heading to include the following:
    • name of the participating institution [Grinnell College],
    • name of all student participants,
    • title of project,
    • dates of the projects, and
    • country where the project will be performed.
  • A detailed one-page budget following the Davis Projects for Peace budget template.
  • Written pre-approval (via email or official letterhead) of any organizations, groups, or external individuals referenced in the project proposal, such as NGOs or nonprofits.
  • A professional resume
  • A separate Word document listing the names of two Grinnell College faculty or staff members who can comment on your preparation/suitability for this grant. A member of the Grinnell College Nomination Committee will contact these faculty members directly. You do not need to request a letter but it is strongly recommended you tell them in advance that they may be contacted for a verbal or email reference

For the on-campus nomination process, please ensure that all application documents comply with these submission guidelines:

  • 10-point font
  • Minimum of 1 inch margins on all sides
  • Applicant's name on each page
  • Can be single or double-spaced

Ethical Guidelines

All applicants are expected to adhere to these ethical guidelines.

Selection Criteria

Grinnell College's Davis Projects for Peace Nominating Committee is guided by the following selection criteria:


Does the project specifically and substantively address issues relating to peace, reconciliation, conflict, non-violence, or building opportunity in post-conflict settings? Does the proposal make the project’s connection to peace/conflict explicit and convincing?


Does the project appear to be possible to complete with the time, person power, and resources available? Does the budget appear to be realistic?


Does the proposal provide evidence of original thought or imagination? Does the project bring new perspectives to the issues being addressed?


How important are the issues addressed by this project? How many people are likely to benefit from it? How likely is it to draw additional outside attention and resources to the issues addressed?


Does the project promise to have effects that last beyond the duration of the summer? Is the project one that could be carried on by people at the project site or elsewhere?

Quality of the written document

Does the proposal explain clearly what is to be done and why it is important? Is the application complete and free of typos or other errors that would indicate hastiness in its preparation or a lack of careful thought?

Grinnell College Travel Warning Policy

Please note that Grinnell College policy does not permit us to consider projects that involve travel to countries currently under a travel warning from the United States Department of State.

Shooting for Peace

A copy of the 50-minute documentary Shooting For Peace, which covers three Davis Projects for Peace in Uganda in 2007, is available in the Burling Library Listening Room for students to check out.

Recipients of Davis Projects for Peace Grants, Nominated by Grinnell College

Summer 2019

Gracee Wallach ’20 & Mia Nuemann (School of the Art Institute of Chicago); The Talk: Sex Miseducation as an American Crisis, United States

Summer 2018

Vivienne Kerley ’19; Arte Resiliente Despues de Huracán Maria en Santurce, Puerto Rico

Annette Mokua ’18; Wanawake kwa Wanawake: Socio- Economic Empowerment of Women, South Western Kenya

Summer 2017

Angela Adom Frimpong ’20; The Aspiring for More project: Inspiring the youth of Jamestown to create and achieve life goals, Ghana

Summer 2016

Michaela Gelnarová 18 and Matthew McCarthy 17; Beat the Ignorance: Learning about Immigration, Czech Republic

Summer 2015

Anesu Gamanya 17 and Paula-Kay Cousins 17; From the Bottom Up: Strengthening Jamaica’s Early-childhood Institutions, Jamaica

Summer 2014

Anam Aslam 14 and Matthew Miller (Messiah College); Los Niños Son el Futuro: Empowering Women to Bring Peace through Children’s Health, Ecuador

Leah Lucas 14 and Emily Nucaro 14; Weaving Peace and Stringing Hope, Guatemala

Summer 2013

Inara Sunan Tareque 16 and Thomas Yim ’15 (Brown University); Stars for Knowledge, Knowledge for Change, Bangladesh

Summer 2012

Tinggong Zhan 14 and Xiaorong Yin 14; 50 Yuan That Can Change Lives, China

Summer 2011

Ashraya Dixit 14; Straws of Steel: Piloting Straw Bale Construction, Nepal

Summer 2010

Ami Shrestha 13; Peace in the Mountains, Nepal

Summer 2009

Liting Cong 11; "Yi Fa Wei Quan,' Legal Aid for Migrant Workers, Shanghai, China

Joe Hiller 12 and Chandara Veung 12; Equal Access to Education: A Road to Peace and Development, Cambodia

Summer 2008

Meredith Groves 08, Victoria Mercer 10, Eric Nost 09, and Alex Reich 11; Local Foods for Local People, Grinnell, IA

Summer 2007

Jamie Zwiebel ’08; Women in Solidarity for Development, San Ramon, Nicaragua

For Further Information

Students who have questions about the Davis Projects for Peace or Grinnell's nominating process should contact Simone Sidwell, Grinnell’s designated official contact person to the Davis Projects For Peace. Communication between students writing proposals and the Davis UWC Scholars office is prohibited.

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