Student Leadership Grants for Public Leadership Education Network (PLEN)


The Weissman Center for Leadership offers grants to Mount Holyoke College students to attend PLEN’s public policy seminars in Washington D.C. throughout the academic year.  Grants are available to students who can demonstrate a strong interest in public service or public policy careers or study. 

While any sophomore, junior, or senior is eligible for Weissman Center funding to attend PLEN, priority will be given to students who can demonstrate one or more of the following:

  • 200 or 300 level course selections, or independent study, that relate to contemporary social or global issues and historical analysis, or that incorporate aspects such a policy, leadership, law, international affairs, and economics.
  • Governing positions such as elected leader in SGA or student organizations, or students who are team leaders, or hold positions that require substantial oversight or guidance.
  • Members of student organizations or clubs, or students who participate in extracurricular activities, which relate to policy, advocacy, social justice, or community service.
  • Work experience (paid or volunteer) at government agencies, electoral campaigns, international institutions, civil society organizations, advocacy NGO’s, or community-based organizations.


Student leadership grants for PLEN may be awarded up to 80% of anticipated expenses. Students will be expected to secure additional funds and/or make individual financial contributions towards their budgeted expenses for PLEN.

Application for Funding

Students may submit an Application for Funding for Weissman Center support to attend PLEN seminars. Below are the 2015-16 seminar dates and deadlines for submitting an application to the Weissman Center.

Women, Business, and Policy, October 1-3. Hear from women who shape policy in business, economics, and corporate social responsibility. (Submit Weissman Center application for funding by Friday, September 4)
Women, Law, and Legal Advocacy, October 29-31. Consider careers in law and the range of professions from issue-based advocacy to government service. (Submit Weissman Center application for funding by Friday, October 2).
Women in STEM Policy, January 4-8. Discuss front page issues with women working in science, health and technology. (Submit Weissman Center application for funding by Monday, November 30).
Women in Public Policy, January 12-16. Explore the policy issues you care about and the range of career opportunities in the policy world. (Submit Weissman Center application for funding by Monday, November 30).
Women Unlocking Nonprofits, February 25-27. See the array of opportunities in nonprofit advocacy, direct service, policy, research, and fundraising. (Submit Weissman Center application for funding by Friday, January 15).
Women and Congress, March 14-18. Walk the halls of Capitol Hill and learn from women leaders in the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives. (Submit Weissmen Center application for funding by Monday, February 1).
Women in Global Policy, May 16-20. Start your international policy career by connecting with women whose work impacts the entire world. (Submit Weissman Center application for funding by Friday, April 1. Seniors graduating in May '16 are NOT eligible for Weissman Center funding).

Only completed applications will be reviewed that are submitted by the deadlines above. This includes completing the application webform and submitting the documents where indicated including a resume, transcript, 2-3 page proposal, and a budget. Two references will be required. A weblink can be found in the on-line application to send to references.

Proposal – A 2-3 page proposal should include the following information:

  • A reflection on what motivated you to pursue attending a PLEN leadership policy seminar.
  • How your academic, extracurricular activities, and/or work experience demonstrate your commitment to public service and/or public policy.
  • An explanation of your career interest in either policy or public service.
  • Your conceptions of leadership, and at least one situation in which you viewed yourself as a leader. What did you learn from this experience? What was the most rewarding aspect of this role? What did you find most challenging and how did you address this?
  • How you imagine PLEN will support your growth both as a leader and in your advancing your career interest.

Budget and Financial Request

  • Students should submit an itemized budget detailing projected expenses for attending PLEN. Budget line items should include travel to/from Washington, D.C., meals and lodging, conference and registration fees, and ground transportation.
  • Students should indicate the amount requested in funds from the Weissman Center up to 80% of anticipated expenses. Students are expected to make a contribution to the balance of their budget, and are encouraged to pursue additional sources of support. Please note in your budget any support you have sought/received. 
  • A plan for how you would share your PLEN experience with the Mount Holyoke College community.  

Reference Letter

  • Two letters of recommendation are required from individuals who can discuss your academic goals, leadership qualities, and interest in public service and/or public policy. At least one letter of reference should be from a professor.
  • Those submitting references can access an online reference form.

Resume and Transcript

  • Students should submit a resume that includes major/minor course of study, GPA, volunteer positions, and work experience
  • A transcript is also required as part of the application. (Unofficial transcripts may be submitted.)

Reporting Requirements and PLEN Promotion

  • Students who are awarded a Weissman Center Student Leadership Grant to attend PLEN will submit a 4-6 page reflection essay that is due one month after the conclusion of the PLEN seminar. Essays will include the impact of the PLEN experience on her academic, career, or professional interests, the networking she did or plans to do, and how the experience has supported her individual leadership development.
  • Students will share their PLEN experiences at either a public forum, by organizing an information session, or other events that will promote PLEN to the Mount Holyoke College community.