Samantha Collins ’11 Raises $30,000 for Education Nonprofit, as an Intern

The biggest gift Portland Adult Education received in 2012 was a $30,000 grant written by Samantha Collins when she was just an intern at the program.

Collins started her internship at P.A.E, which teaches English and other skills to prepare adults for college or work, after she graduated in May 2011. (Previously, as a junior at Bowdoin, she had volunteered there.) “Struck by the limited infrastructure of the former elementary school that houses P.A.E, she … decided to write grants seeking additional funding to support the program,” P.A.E Director Rob Wood said. Collins collaborated with a small team on the grant writing.

“She quickly led in identifying possible foundations, setting a schedule, compiling data and composing drafts,” said Anja Hanson, P.A.E’s academic advisor. “Her energy and pluck enabled the team to submit six grants in six months, setting an unprecedented pace and showing senior staff how it could be done. But as she boarded the plane to attend graduate school at Emory University, she knew that five of the grants had been unsuccessful.”

But a couple of weeks after Collins left this summer, a slender envelope arrived from the John T. Gorman Foundation. This time, the news was good: P.A.E had been awarded $30,000 for operating expenses. “Like adult students, Collins refused to give up when she met with failure,” Wood said.

Collins, who is pursuing a master’s in development practice, described P.A.E as “a magical place where devastation, thirst for learning, dreams and toil collide.” The grant she helped write will ensure that more adult students in Portland achieve their dreams of getting an education, PAE said in a press release.

“Her request was a welcome surprise at a school where most of the students are not only older than Collins, but could be her parents,” said Rob Wood, PAE’s director. “Few young American college graduates know much about adult basic education because they do not need it. Before the age of 18, they learn to speak English fluently, earn high school credentials, succeed on standardized testing and find funding to attend college. The 1,500 adults in PAE’s academic program must work on some or all of these tasks just to get ready for college.”

In her senior year at Bowdoin, Collins won a Maine Campus Compact Award. Maine Campus Compact (MCC) is a consortium of 18 higher education institutions dedicated to promoting community service, civic engagement and service learning in higher education.

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