Two students receive $10,000 peace grants; Seasonal MDI resident gives 100 awards, including COA

This story was published on April 04, 2007 on Page B2 in edition 1, 2 of the Bangor Daily News

BAR HARBOR – Thanks to a familiar face, two students at College of the Atlantic each have won $10,000 for projects they hope will promote peace and cultural understanding.

Michael Keller of Charlottesville, Va., and Simon Lombe, a resident of Sudan whose parents are living in a refugee camp in northern Uganda, are among 100 college students nationwide who have been given funding for their projects by Katherine W. Davis, a seasonal Mount Desert Island resident who has given millions of dollars recently to local organizations, including COA.

The separate plans of Keller and Lombe will land them on either side of the Atlantic as they participate in Davis’ 100 Projects for Peace program.

Keller, in recognition of the 400th anniversary of the arrival of European immigrants in Jamestown, Va., intends to document the stories of refugees who have settled in Charlottesville over the past decade. Lombe hopes to establish an apiary at the Ugandan refugee camp to help provide its inhabitants with economic opportunities, a key to promoting peace in the region. An apiary is where bees are raised and cultivated for their honey.

“The projects happen this summer,” Donna Gold, COA’s director of public relations, said Tuesday.

In a statement, Davis indicated that she wants to promote causes that will help reduce the level of strife and conflict across the globe. She turned 100 last month.

“I want to use my 100th birthday to help young people launch some immediate initiatives that could bring new prospects for peace in the world,” Davis said in the release.

The 100 students who will divide the $1 million in funding represent 65 universities and colleges, according to COA officials. The students were selected from 76 higher education institutions in the United States.

Lombe’s apiary project is getting help from Alere Refugees Vocational Institute, a school in the refugee camp that has offered him classroom space and land to put the beehives. The honey produced by the bees can be used as a sweetener and a skin-care product but, according to Lombe’s grandmother, also brings unity, good luck and happiness to family and community, the release indicated.

Keller’s photo-documentation project has been endorsed by Charlottesville mayor David Brown and Charlottesville businessman Toan Nguyen, a former Vietnamese refugee who is president of C’Ville Coffee. Keller’s work will be displayed at the coffee shop, a gathering place for many refugees in the area.

Davis, a seasonal resident of nearby Northeast Harbor, and a foundation named after her late husband have given lots of money to Mount Desert Island organizations and to others nationwide. Last year the Shelby Cullom Davis Foundation gave COA a $2.5 million challenge grant for a new residential village planned for its campus and just last week she gave $1 million to Mount Desert Island Biological Laboratory, the largest private gift ever for the marine research lab.

According to the online organization, other MDI organizations that have received funding from Davis or the Shelby Cullom Davis Foundation include Friends of Acadia, The Jackson Laboratory, Maine Coast Heritage Trust, Abbe Museum, Mount Desert Festival of Chamber Music, Northeast Harbor Neighborhood House, Mount Desert Island Historical Society, Bar Harbor Music Festival, Northeast Harbor Library, Downeast Horizons, Maine Sea Coast Mission, MDI Water Quality Coalition, Mount Desert Island Hospital, and Northeast Harbor Fire Department, among others.

Davis, who has visited Russia 32 times, holds a doctorate in international relations from the University of Geneva and is a member of the Council of Foreign Relations.

Davis’ son and daughter-in-law, Shelby M.C. Davis and Gail Davis, fund scholarships at 76 colleges and universities in the United States for graduates of the United World College system’s international baccalaureate program. Students eligible for the Davis Peace Prize competition are enrolled at these 76 institutions, which includes COA.