Funding is now in place for a new set of collaborations between Duke and UNC.

The Kenan-Biddle Partnership awarded $5,000 grants to 10 projects Monday that aim to enhance the intellectual life of both campuses. Now in its second year, the $150,000 initiative distributes up to $50,000 annually over three years to projects at Duke and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. The partnership is funded by the William R. Kenan, Jr. Charitable Trust and the Mary Duke Biddle Foundation.

The selection committee—composed of students, faculty and administrators from both campuses—read over the proposals and discussed and compared the pros and cons of each before making the final decision. The proposals were due in October.

Compared to last year’s 91 applications, the number of applications decreased to nearly 50 this year.

Carol Tresolini, vice provost for academic initiatives at UNC-Chapel Hill, said that she is not sure why the number of applications decreased this year.

The decrease may have to do with more effective self-selection among applicants, Vice President for Student Affairs Larry Moneta wrote in an email Monday.

“[The] smaller number represented better understanding of the grant’s intentions,” Moneta said. “Many last year really didn’t fit. This year, nearly all were quite qualified, which made the decision-making process extremely challenging.”

Tresolini said that the committee placed an emphasis on proposals that were initiated by students and considered the extent to which the projects contribute to each campus.

Duke Student Government President Pete Schork, a senior, who served on the selection committee, noted that there were overarching guidelines in the selection process, but each committee member was able to use his own subjective criterion when evaluating the proposals.

“I was looking for applications that play upon the strength of each campus and for those that would receive the greatest benefit by having the grants,” Schork said.

Awarded projects include Emerging Scholars of Media and Technology, Triangle Race Conference, Duke-UNC South Asian Classical Music Partnership and UNC-Duke China Leadership Summit.

Each project was required to include at least one public exhibition, presentation or performance and preference was given to proposals made jointly by students from both universities.

Sophomore Helen Cai, the Duke initiator of the UNC-Duke China Leadership Summit, said that the grant will allow her team to focus on developing a more complex structure for its annual conference, which will create a stronger collaborative relationship between Duke and UNC.

“We have a positive affirmation from faculty [after receiving the grant],” Cai said. “We are able to expand the conference—finding speakers around the country, inviting international delegates, extending the length of the conference and creating more networks.”