Projects for Peace has awarded a $10,000 grant to University of Richmond senior Jhewel Fernandez of Brooklyn, N.Y., to assist a library in Brazil print books, connect to the Internet and sponsor workshops for local citizens.

Her project, “Living Community Library,” will help the Community and Living Library in Lençóis, Brazil. With the grant, the library will print 1,500 new books, written and illustrated in coordination with local authors, artists and students in nearby schools. It will also fund Internet access at the library for six months and four workshops for members of the community on topics they determine to meet their educational needs.

Fernandez is majoring in sociology and minoring in women, gender and sexuality studies. She became aware of the library and its needs while conducting research and working with young adults in Brazil at an organization, Grãos de Luz e Griô, while studying abroad in fall 2013.

After graduation in May, she will return to Lençóis to work with the organization again to create a method for collecting data about the library's impact in the community. The library will use the data as a basis for applying for larger grants.

“In completing this data collection and analysis, I will be helping to ensure that the library can continue to remain open for years to come, and it can continue to work with the community to create literary works that are representative of the community,” said Fernandez.

Fernandez was inspired to apply for a Projects for Peace grant after experiencing the work of the people at Grãos, who “encouraged education through the West African tradition of storytelling,” she said. “I was really connected with the work that Grãos was doing to empower the young adults in the community while also reaching out to the rural communities.”

A University of Richmond student has won a Projects for Peace award every year since the grant began in 2007. The Davis United World College Scholars Program administers Projects for Peace as the vision of the late Kathryn W. Davis. The grassroots projects are intended to encourage and support youth in trying their own ideas for building peace.

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