Q: What is the sportula?
A: We are a group of Classics Graduate Students and Junior Faculty committed to making sure that students from working-class and historically looted communities (like the ones we ourselves come from) don’t fall through the cracks left by traditional scholarship programs; all too many of which have a poor understanding of what our lives are *actually* like and what we *actually* need.
Q: What does that mean?
A: It means that, in our experience, a lot of programs/resources that might provide money for tuition or a specific course/project don’t take into account the further realities of our lives–that we often also needed $$$ for the work shifts we were missing by taking that class, or to bail our mom out of jail, or to buy the textbooks, or to pay our cellphone bill so we could have access to our online course materials from home, or subway fare, or just a freaking sandwich and fancy coffee so we could concentrate on a full belly/have a bit of sweetness in our survival as financially marginalized Classicists in training. None of those were theoretical examples, and this is why we want to smoothe the way for the next generation of Greek and Latin students like us!
Q: What does the sportula do?
A: We provide microgrants–petty cash ranging from $5 to $300, no questions asked, to Classics undergrads who need it. We can also work to find you larger amounts of money and/or connect you with mentorship for non-monetary needs (e.g. if you need a classicist from your racial/ethnic group to talk something over with, or if you have an issue impacting your academic career that you don’t feel comfortable letting your department know about, or you need access to a certain journal/manuscript etc). In short, we are the informal old boys club for ppl who never had access to the old boys club, and we wanna give you the cash you need to thrive.
Q: How do your microgrants work?
A: Contact us through our contact page, tell us what you need, and we will make every effort to send it to you through PayPal, venmo, mail, western union, etc (tell us how much you need, what mode of delivery you’d prefer, and when you need it by). You don’t have to explain yourself–we get that our lives can be complicated and strongly believe that we as financially marginalized people are the best arbiters of what we need and the experts on our own lives. We reject the all too common pattern in academia (and everywhere) that demands working class people “prove” their worthiness or expose/perform their need and trauma for some committee in order to get the money that we need and deserve. That being said, do also let us know if it’s for something like a book or an item we might be able to hook you up without having to spend money.
Q: Where does the money come from? Are you a charity?
A: No, we are an informal group of Classicists–mostly grad students, mostly at UC Berkeley, who pooled our tax returns this year to start a relatively small (couple thousand dollars) bank account for this, and have committed to growing this slush fund larger. Keep this in mind when you consider your request, but also don’t be shy to ask for what you need! There is no wrong ask–if what you need to survive this week of Greek participles is $100 so you can take off work for the day to study, or $50 so someone can babysit your kid for 2 hours while you write that paper on Thucydides, or $10 so you can take a cab to school after working the nightshift, we got y’all! (Issa Rae voice).
Q: Who do you help?
A: Any classics/classics adjacent student who needs it! Students of color and students without parental/family support or who lack access to other forms of financial aid by virtue of being undocumented etc. to the front!
Q: Do I have to pay it back?
A: No, you have to pay it forward to the next generation once you get financially stable, just like we’re trying to. As Toni Morrison writes:
I tell my students, ‘When you get these jobs that you have been so brilliantly trained for, just remember that your real job is that if you are free, you need to free somebody else. If you have some power, then your job is to empower somebody else. This is not just a grab-bag candy game.
Q: Who can I contact if I have more questions, or want to get involved?
A: Feel free to leave us a note through this page, or contact the sportula coordinator Stefani Echeverría-Fenn: firstname.lastname@example.org.