Joel Frankel Scholarship Fund

The Joel Frankel Memorial Fund awards grants to support undergraduate field study projects in Latin America or in Latina/o/x communities within the United States. While any UCSC undergraduate may apply, priority is given to Merrill College students, Latin American & Latino Studies majors, and Politics majors focusing on Latin American and Latina/o issues, whose proposals reflect the founding spirit and vision that established the fund (see more information about Joel Frankel and his philosophy below). 

How and When to Submit Applications

We welcome all applications. Application materials will be reviewed as they are received during the academic year. Decisions within 4-6 weeks of submission and sooner whenever possible. Email with any questions. 

Past Joel Frankel Awardees (get ideas!)

Joel Frankel Application Form

About Joel Frankel

The Joel Frankel Scholarship Fund is named in honor of Joel Frankel, Class of 1979, a Politics major with a strong interest in Latin America and Third World Studies who was co-founder and coordinator of the World Studies Table.

Joel was an active member of the Merrill community. He firmly believed in the emphasis that UCSC placed on experiential learning and utilized many of the unique programs and facilities Merrill and UCSC had to offer. Joel was particularly concerned about humanitarian struggles in Central America and South Africa.

He traveled extensively in Latin America. While on a field study in Colombia, he wrote many letters to the Merrill Field Program which communicated the richness and depth of his experiences. He also gathered resource materials for the Merrill College Third World Teaching Resource Center. Upon his return to the University he met with students to share information with them about his field study and helped to create the World Studies Table which for several years was a place where students, faculty and guest lecturers would talk of their travels and research.

Joel died of leukemia on March 31, 1982 at the age of 24. He lived a relatively short amount of time, yet his involvement, concern, and compassion had an impact on all of those who knew him and can serve to encourage others to take more responsibility for their own lives and for the well-being of others.

Awards from the Joel Frankel Fund are made annually. Both the quality of the project proposal and financial need will be considered. Recipients of the Fund will be expected to make a presentation to the Merrill community, to contribute any written work and/or place any audio/visual material in the offices of the Latin American and Latino Studies Department. The student is also expected to prepare a summary describing the outcome of the field study. 

Philosophy of Joel Frankel

What follows is a statement written by Joel's mother and some of his friends.

In June, 1979, Joel stood here giving his senior address--sharing his thoughts on being a Merrill student and the impact of that experience on his life. He was actively involved socially, culturally and politically in the community. He chose at that time to postpone further education because he wanted to experience life from a point of view different from that of a student. He wanted to know what it was like to "make it on his own," and to be away from the shelter of the college community.

Out of his studies, his family and cultural heritage and the friends he developed in his young life, Joel was filled with a passion for social justice, a sense of world family and a hatred for the forces of exploitation and oppression. He saw himself not as a leader - a champion - but as a part of the struggle for a better world.

In a letter written to a friend in 1978, he wrote, "It is time for this cog called Joel Frankel to enter the machine that makes up this world." the Talmud tells us--"Be wise not only in words, but in deeds, mere knowledge is not the goal, but action." "Say little and do much, for by your deeds shall you be judged."

Joel may not have been aware of these words, but that is how he lived his life. He was active in university issues, community issues, and third world liberation struggles, particularly those concerned with Central America and South Africa. He helped to create the World Studies Table for the discussion of current events at Merrill. He traveled extensively in Latin America, all the while writing letters to the Merrill Field Program for students interested in placements. On his return to the University he met with those students and shared information with them about his experiences. He gathered materials to be used as resources at Merrill. He believed in the emphasis that UCSC placed on out-of-classroom learning, and truly utilized many of the unique programs and facilities Merrill and UCSC had to offer.

He felt close to his family and friends, loved the outdoors, and most recently was politically concerned about El Salvador. Even when he became ill he was able to maintain his sense of humor and continue contact with his friends from all over the world.

In an ironic twist of fate, Joel was attacked by leukemia, an enemy we have not yet found a way to defeat, and died on March 31, 1982.

Joel lived a relatively short amount of time--not quite 25 years. Yet his involvement, concern and compassion had an impact on all of us, and must serve to encourage us to take more responsibility for our own lives and for the well being of others.

There is another Talmudic saying that--"life is a passing shadow--the shadow of a bird in flight. The bird flies away and there is neither bird nor shadow." But we feel Joel's shadow remains with us.

We consider the Fund a memorial to his good deeds and feel that it will provide the opportunity for others to continue the work in areas related to his interests and beliefs.

In closing, I wish to quote from the Talmud again, "If others do good through you, their deeds will be accounted to you as your own." Joel was cut down in the prime of his life, but his good deeds will be continued through the establishment of this Fund. The recipient of monies from the Fund must be willing to accept the responsibility that comes with it--not only that of working hard as a student, but working for a better world. That is a responsibility that not only the recipient of the award accepts, but hopefully all people must accept.

All of us who were close to Joel and loved him wish to thank Merrill College and the people who were involved in establishing the Fund. Somewhere, somehow, we know that all this caring would give Joel many good feelings and a sense of accomplishment.