May 21, 2024

 A year ago this spring, Great Bay Community College business Administration  major Louis Fowler received the prestigious Newman Civic Fellowship, awarded by the nonprofit Campus Compact to community-committed students based on their potential for public leadership.

Through the fellowship, students receive recognition, mentoring, and support as they develop strategies for social change.

This year, Fowler is putting his leadership qualities to work by helping to organize Out of the Closet, a trans and gender queer-focused clothing swap, on May 30th at Great Bay’s Portsmouth campus. The program is supported by an Allstate Foundation Newman Impact Grant, which provides fellows with $500 to $1,500 individual grants to enhance their social-action work.

The grant program provides funding for projects that engage campuses and surrounding communities, focusing on students from historically under-resourced institutions, including community colleges. In addition to the grants, students participate in training on fund development, budget creation and management, and ethical spending practices.

Fowler, 22 of North Hampton, was nominated for the Newman Civic Fellowship because of his work as founding member and president of Pride Alliance Club, a student-run organization that gives LGBTQ+ students a space to foster queer friendships and promote education and representation.

“I’m honored to receive this grant and I am thrilled to be able to use it to help continue my work building a supportive community for people who are queer-identifying,” he said. “I am thankful to Great Bay, Campus Compact, and the Allstate Foundation for supporting our important work.”

Out of the Closet will function as a clothing swap, with a goal of distributing gender-affirming clothing for transgender and Gender queer people while creating community and new connections. “We are hoping that everyone brings clothing that no longer affirms their gender identity, and we’ll find someone who will be happy to wear it,” Fowler said.

Fowler, who expects to graduate with his associate degree in 2026, felt empowered to apply for the grant after participating in the Annual Convening of Fellows, an in-person conference held each October that serves as the cornerstone of the Newman Civic Fellowship Program. Also supported by the Allstate Foundation, the conference was in Boston, and Fowler and other fellows participated in a range of activities, including civic-action skill building and networking with other fellows around their common passions and interests.

“The Convening of the Fellows was an amazing experience,” he said. “I made new lifelong friends from everywhere in the country and around the world.”

That networking experience is part of the goal of the fellowship program, said Natalie Furlett, Campus Compact director of partnerships and member engagement. “Through The Allstate Foundation’s generous support, Newman Civic Fellows have more time to connect, create relationships, and build their changemaker networks,” Furlett said.

Greg Weatherford II, program officer for the Allstate Foundation’s youth empowerment program, said Allstate is proud to support “student leaders who are already building the just, equitable, and healthy world we all deserve. … Youth are already blazing a trail to create a positive impact in their communities, and it’s critical that we empower them with the resources they need to lead.”

“Regardless of who you are, the world cannot afford to live without the help you could offer to others,” Fowler said.