After a trip to El Salvador last spring, four Yale students founded an organization to increase a sense of global responsibility at Yale. Now, with the help of funding from Yale President Richard Levin and the Yale Center for International Area Studies, the group, Reach Out, will sponsor fellowships to allow students to travel to developing nations.

The fellowships will support self-designed projects working with non-profit organizations in developing nations. Although there are many international fellowships available for academic and research purposes, the 2003 Reach Out International Service and Social Justice Summer Fellowship will be the first international fellowship available primarily for the purpose of helping non-profits and building global responsibility abroad, Reach Out co-coordinator Jocelyn Lippert ’04 said.

Reach Out members are currently suggesting sites for students to visit, including Guatemala, El Salvador, India and Africa. Group members plan to help students who don’t know how to minimize costs or plan a fellowship, making the experience as rewarding as possible. Reach Out members will review and rank applications initially, and a committee of professors will make the final selections.

Lippert and co-coordinator Ruth DeGolia ’04 said they were surprised at how much Yale President Richard Levin was willing to contribute to the project.

Lippert and DeGolia said their meetings with Levin resulted in significantly more funding than they initially expected. The two began meeting with Levin in the fall, when he expressed enthusiasm for the organization, Lippert and DeGolia said. But the financial support came after another meeting with Levin and help from YCIAS and Undergraduate Career Services, they said.

Levin provided the funding in the form of a one-time grant, using funds from the President’s Office and YCIAS. Reach Out members said they hope to continue the fellowship in future summers through private funding.

Levin said the fellowship was an example of a student-driven project fulfilling the University’s dual support for community service and international experiences.

“The project showed a lot of student initiative and seemed worthy of institutional support,” Levin said. “We’re funding it on a one-year basis to see how it works out.”

To publicize the fellowship, Reach Out members sent out flyers and e-mails Tuesday at noon. Coordinators said their mailboxes have already been flooded by interested students.

Lippert and DeGolia are pleased with the interest so far.

“We are so thrilled about the enthusiasm, support and genuine excitement we have received,” Lippert said.