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Project Cahir: Penn State Students United Against Poverty

Project Cahir is a scholarship initiative that aims to instill a purposeful sense of civic duty, community, and commitment to finding ways to change the poverty landscape of our local communities.

  • Inspire a lifelong commitment towards mitigating poverty
  • Provide tools and skills needed to create impactful change in our communities
  • Empower each of us to become advocates for those who cannot speak for themselves
An individual has not started living until he can rise above the narrow confines of his individualistic concerns to the broader concerns of all humanity.
Martin Luther King, Jr.

Get Involved

Project Cahir students conceptualize and work on projects that help change the poverty landscape and Penn State or in the local community. Past projects have included developing the University Park 2019 Project Cahir Survey on food and housing insecurity, providing toiletries for students at campus recreation centers, making textbooks available on reserve at the library for students who cannot afford to purchase them, organizing Poverty Fight Nights, hosting campus and community panel discussions, and partnering with The Lion’s Pantry, University Park Undergraduate Association, and Student Care and Advocacy. 

In addition to working on projects, students meet weekly to learn about poverty on the national and local level through readings, discussions, and guest speakers.

Students are invited to apply through an online application. Selected students will receive a $1,000 scholarship in exchange for critically thinking about, identifying, and defining the scope of the problem and the nature of the consequences it produces while working toward specific solutions.

Application deadline for the 2022-2023 academic year is August 1, 2022. 

Resources for Students in Need

Project Cahir connects students in need to resources available at Penn State.

Toiletry packages

Students in need of toiletry items can request a pre-made package of toiletries. Each package will include items such as a toothbrush, toothpaste, shampoo, conditioner, soap, lotion, deodorant, shaving products, and/or feminine hygiene products. 

Additional Needs and Resources

If you are struggling to afford basic needs, such as food, housing, clothing, or other household items, we are here for you. If you need help — or if you are uncertain about your needs — reach out to one of the many resources available on-campus or in the community through our Basic Needs and Support webpage

History of Project Cahir

Project Cahir was established in memory of Sergeant Bill Cahir, a State College native and 1990 Penn State graduate killed in action in Afghanistan while working on building a school for girls. He lived a life dedicated to civic engagement and duty. After his death, his family created this initiative to honor his commitment to civic duty through the students of Project Cahir.

“Bill was a pretty unlikely soldier,” said John Cahir, Bill’s father, Penn State alumnus and former vice provost for undergraduate education.

Bill Cahir was working as a journalist when the 9/11 attacks motivated him to enlist as a reservist in the Marine Corps, as he was over the eligible age to be commissioned. He had completed two tours in Iraq and was working with the Marine’s 4th Civil Affairs Group when he was killed.

“Bill was a leader,” said John Cahir. “He had an incredible ability to read a person, find their strengths and amplify them. He was always interested in serving those who needed help.”

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Project Cahir
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129 Boucke Building
University Park, PA 16802​​​​​​​