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Students in the Trustee Leader Scholar Program (TLS) design and implement their own civic engagement projects based on their own interests; accepted projects receive stipends and other support. Nearly 20 percent of Bard students participate in TLS, and most TLS students remain active in the program throughout their time at Bard. TLS Projects include Astor Home for Children Theater Group, Bard Biodiesel Cooperative, Bard Leprosy Relief, Bard Music Mentoring Program, Germantown Tutoring Program, Grace Smith House (family shelter), International Tuberculosis Relief Project, and Red Hook English as a Second Language Center. TLS projects may run for multiple years; several have grown into full-time, College-sponsored, nationally recognized initiatives that welcome undergraduate volunteers, such as the Bard Prison Initiative, La Voz, and the New Orleans Initiative.
Every Bard student is eligible to apply for TLS status. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis, and acceptance is based primarily on the student’s willingness and capacity to direct a large-scale project. TLS students meet one-on-one with the program director and assistant; take part in skill-building workshops; and write formal project proposals, budgets, and evaluations. They are offered hands-on opportunities to acquire skills in grant writing, lesson planning, and group facilitation.