Alumnus Marcus Thomas Steps Up to Help EWB UMN Land a Rotary Grant

Marcus Thomas

When enthusiastic and dedicated students can tap into the passion and experience of our alumni, amazing things happen. Like when alumnus Marcus Thomas (BCE 1994) and the student chapter of EWB USA UMN collaborated to bring in a $15K grant from Rotary International District #5950.

“I wanted to step up and do this,” said Thomas, “because I could see that the missions of Rotary and EWB were aligned and I knew I could help make it happen.” Marcus Thomas is a CEGE alumnus, a member of CEGE’s Professional Advisory Board, and a dedicated member of the Burnsville Rotary Club. “Originally, I saw involvement with Rotary primarily as a way to make some business connections. However, I soon came to embrace the Rotary vision and the chance to get involved in and give back to my community.”

Thomas knew that his club (and others) made small, periodic donations to EWB UMN, and he had heard students from EWB UMN make presentations about various projects at Rotary meetings. Thomas also knew that Rotary had some larger funds available. He began to talk with EWB UMN student leaders about the possibilities for a collaborative approach to help EWB UMN tap into Rotary’s international funds.

The students had explored a larger involvement with Rotary, but had not made much progress. International projects can be complicated and expensive, and Rotary requires hands-on involvement from a Rotarian.

When Thomas got involved, the pieces began to come together. Thomas went the extra mile in helping EWB UMN apply for a District Grant in the Small International project category from Rotary International District #5950. He connected the students with his home club, Burnsville Rotary, and with the Apple Valley and Buffalo clubs to secure partnerships and funding commitments. Those commitments were essential before applying for a grant. Thomas agreed to act as a mentor to the EWB UMN students during the design phase of the project.

The students worked hard to gather research and specify all necessary materials. The students and Thomas worked together to write, review, and revise the grant application. Students made a few practice presentations to Rotary clubs and incorporated the feedback they received. By the time of the formal presentation before the Rotary Grants Committee, the students were so smooth that Board members had no further questions. The grant was awarded that evening.

Lydia Anshus

Lydia Anshus (BCE, 2022) is the fundraising officer for EWB UMN and works on grant proposals. “I’ve been in contact with the Burnsville, Buffalo, and Apple Valley clubs to express our thanks and schedule presentations. We are so excited about this partnership with Rotary and hope to continue working with them in our efforts to build sustainable water distribution systems.”