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Raising nonpartisan political capital is never a quick process. For the Penn Political Coalition, accomplishing this goal took about two years.

PoCo, the umbrella organization for political student groups founded in January 2012, will be launching a $7,500 fund for policy and politics-related programming on campus that the group says is necessary to ensure that Penn has a vibrant political scene. The fund will be overseen by the 12-member PoCo “Synergy Committee,” some members of which are representatives from member groups and some of which are on the PoCo board.

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The fund, which was amassed through donations from Fox Leadership, Penn Wharton Public Policy Initiative and the Annenberg School of Communication, will be available for allocation to PoCo-affiliated student groups or to other student groups who are co-sponsoring an event with an affiliate group. It is a nonpartisan effort to increase political discourse and will not be used to host events for campaigns or events to advocate for candidates of any type.

PoCo co-chairs Sam Gersten, a College senior, and Urja Mittal, a College and Wharton senior, said the fund is the cornerstone of PoCo’s efforts to provide funding to political student groups and will only be used for political or policy events on campus.

“The fund is a good way to move forward from the question of how to cultivate political life at Penn,” Mittal said. “It’s about how we can make it so that civic and political dialogue are kind of something we do on a regular basis, not just a reaction to it being election season every four years.”

Gersten added, “It wasn’t just [PoCo], it was most people involved in political life on campus feeling that political life was not as vibrant or strong as it could be, and part of that reason was the limited ability to get funding.”

Mittal agreed. “It’s very difficult to ask groups to hold more events if they don’t have the resources to do it,” she said.

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As of the launch event, groups will be able to start submitting applications to receive money from the Synergy Committee and its new fund. The limit for funding is $750 per year per group, and will continue to be allocated as 10 percent of the total fund money as the fund grows. If the fund grows to $10,000, the limit of funding per year per group will grow with it to $1,000.

Mittal explained the logic behind this funding cap. “The goal is that we should be able to fund at least ten events per year,” Mittal said. “Because political events often gear towards speakers, and speakers’ honoraria can be very expensive, we don’t want to drain the fund with any one event.”

Both Gersten and Mittal emphasized that the launch of the fund has been a collaborative effort. “All member groups have had a lot of input in to how the fund will be structured,” Mittal said. “It’s been a PoCo initiative, but it wasn’t achieved just by the PoCo board.”

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