Writes of Passage

Thursday, August 02, 2018
A three-story-high mural recognizing Terre Haute as the "Birthplace of the Coca-Cola Bottle."

A successful grant proposal written this past spring by four students will support the creation of eight bike racks throughout downtown Terre Haute. Each rack will feature art panels signifying the community as the official birthplace of the Coca-Cola bottle.

STEM professionals—engineers, scientists and mathematicians—are not usually celebrated for their writing skills, but one Terre Haute organization is applauding the Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology ­­students who crafted a winning grant proposal for them.

Eleven future STEM practitioners developed three grant proposals this spring for local organizations, after investigating several community-development programs and initiatives.

And, one of them has already netted a $4,995 grant from the Indiana Office of Community and Rural Affairs’ Quick Impact Pace program to support “quality of place” initiatives.

Downtown Terre Haute (DTH) Inc. and the Terre Haute Chamber of Commerce Foundation will use the OCRA grant to create eight custom-made bicycle racks along streets through the city’s downtown. Each rack will feature art panels signifying the community as the official birthplace of the Coca-Cola bottle.

The initiative is in partnership with the Vigo County Parks and Recreation Department, which will provide 20 hours of bicycle safety education during monthly First Friday community-relations events. The City of Terre Haute will donate time and supplies for the bike rack installations.

“Our partnership with the students at Rose-Hulman was ideal,” says DTH Coordinator Stephanie Pence. “It was a perfect grant for them to hone their skills and leave a lasting impression on downtown” while they learned about Terre Haute.

Vigo County Parks and Recreation Department Director Kara Kish says, “Bicycle racks and additional biking
amenities in our downtown will help transform our urban center from an auto-centric environment to a bike-friendly community."

Sarah Summers, assistant professor English, began the grant writing course in 2016. That year, it resulted in one sponsored grant and other proposal ideas still under consideration. She brought back the course in 2018 and helped guide students in development of grant proposals with officials from the Council on Domestic Abuse, the Ryves neighborhood’s Ryves Up! program ,and Downtown Terre Haute.

“Learning about the different grants that we could choose from really put into perspective Terre Haute’s needs,” says Trey Wurtz, who completed his first year as a civil engineering major. An interest in recreational cycling lured him to the bike rack project.

“I am definitely a little bit closer to the Terre Haute community,” Wurtz adds. “Next year, when I am driving
through the city and see people using the bike racks, I will know that I had a hand in making that

Other members of the successful grant-writing team were 2018 graduates Marc Schmitt and Colton Watson, along with Ryan McDaniel, a rising senior in mechanical engineering.

“I had taken classes that involved working with local citizens before, but they didn’t instill and maintain a sense of pride in Terre Haute like this project,” says McDaniel. “People having a sense of pride together is a great way for them to feel like they are a real community, and working to uphold this sense of pride is a great way for me and others to help the community.”

The community bike rack initiative was one of 13 projects to receive OCRA grants from 38 submitted applications. The program supports transformational projects that spark community-wide conversations and creativity.

“This grant rewards creativity, ingenuity and collaboration with the end result leaving a lasting
impression on communities and the Hoosiers who live there for years to come,” says Jodi Golden, OCRA’s executive director.