Berkeley Project Day Continues Despite Decrease in Funds

Photo: Volunteers clean up near Strawberry Creek as part of the Berkeley Project Day. This year's project organizers faced funding shortfalls.
Sean Goebel/Photo
Volunteers clean up near Strawberry Creek as part of the Berkeley Project Day. This year's project organizers faced funding shortfalls.

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Berkeley Project Day 2009 Slideshow
See photos from this year's Berkeley Project Day.

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Funding shortfalls of nearly $2,000 led to a decrease in the number of volunteers hitting the streets Saturday as part of the fourth annual Berkeley Project Day.

Compared with last year's project day-which drew approximately 2,000 students to 70 sites throughout Berkeley and Oakland-there was a drop of approximately 200 students as well as a small drop in the number of volunteer sites the project could accommodate. However, organizers said that improved organization led to a more efficient use of available resources.

The economic downturn, restrictions that prevent grants from being continued from previous years and cuts in contributions from sources such as the ASUC and Cal Dining have all contributed to financial difficulties for The Berkeley Project, which organized the event, said Co-Finance Director and senior Emily Ng.

"Many of the companies that we apply to either no longer solicit requests or cannot afford to donate to us," Ng said in an e-mail. "(But) we are fortunate to have received (the UC Berkeley Chancellor's Community Partnership Fund) and a grant from the city of Berkeley this year."

Campus budget cuts also caused Cal Dining to be unable to provide free breakfasts for volunteers. In addition, funding from the ASUC was cut by 7 percent compared with last year, Ng said.

Financial contributions from grant programs such as Bears Breaking Boundaries and some local restaurants that the project has relied on in past years have also been eliminated this year due to the poor economic situation.

According to Ng, it costs $16 a head to provide each of the approximately 1,700 volunteers with a T-shirt, two meals, transportation and tools.

Site Planning Co-Director and junior Katrina Dijamco said decreased resources had led to the smaller scale of this year's event as compared with those of previous years.

"The drop in number of sites was due to less volunteers being available,"

Dijamco said. "We also wanted more of an emphasis on serving Berkeley: We rejected two or three sites in Oakland."

This drawback is occurring just as Dijamco said she perceives a greater demand for the volunteer services her organization provides.

"Many of the places we called said they did not have enough volunteers and staff to do the tasks themselves," she said.

However, while student-volunteers were spread more thinly compared with last year, Executive Director and senior Steven Nguyen said that he had not noticed any impact on productivity.


Contact Alan Cai at [email protected]

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