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From the desk of a Crimsonbridge Philanthropy Fellow: Zahra Abdi

The following piece is an interview with Summer 2023 Philanthropy Fellow Zahra Abdi on her learning and working experience as a Fellow with the Crimsonbridge Foundation. July 2023.

This was your second year as a Crimsonbridge Philanthropy Fellow. How was your experience different this summer than last summer? Did you learn anything new about philanthropy or the nonprofit sector?

The main difference from last year is my writing ability, thanks largely in part to the many essays I wrote during my first two semesters of college. Regarding philanthropy and the nonprofit sector, I never considered that foundations made grants to support environmental efforts. Before this summer, I saw philanthropy and the nonprofit sector as focusing on human services, such as college success and English language initiatives, but I was delighted to discover that philanthropic foundations are doing their part to make the world a more livable place, both socially and environmentally.

Describe one of the projects that you worked on this summer. What did you find most interesting about the project, and what did you find challenging?

I, with help from the Crimsonbridge team, wrote a report highlighting the eight years of impact Crimonbridge has seen in its English Language Initiatives program area. I researched organizations, learned about their histories as organizations and as Crimsonbridge partners, and compiled what I found into an eight-page summary. Scouring the websites of Crimsonbridge’s fourteen ELI partners was the most time-consuming and challenging aspect of the project, but discovering all the wonderful things those organizations have done to support the DMV community made the extensive research worth it.

What was your favorite program area, and why?

Crimsonbridge’s new Environmental Sustainability program area. Through my project in this program area, I learned about amazing organizations working hard to bring communities together for the sake of our planet’s survival and to educate people of all ages on how they can be more Earth-friendly.

What is one skill you learned that you might use in the future?

Proofreading. In my few short weeks working with Crimsonbridge again this summer, I have done more proofreading than in my entire first year of college! The ELI report was produced over the course of several weeks, during which I had to ensure that the information in the various parts of the report was accurate, concise, and consistent. My writing style during the Fellowship compared to my freshman year has not entirely changed, but I do notice that I have become more attentive to what I am writing.

What’s next for Zahra?

I will be returning to Boston University in the fall as a sophomore to resume my study of antiquity and begin a new job as a Writing Consultant. As a Writing Consultant, I will be guiding students through elaborate college essay prompts and supporting students who speak different languages and may be unfamiliar with the complexities of English grammar.

The Crimsonbridge Philanthropy Fellows program engages students (from rising first-year college students to graduate students) in philanthropy and the nonprofit sector. Fellows learn about the foundation’s grantmaking priorities and work alongside program, communications, and operations team members in a variety of ways to support the mission of the foundation.


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