Shahed Awarded Davis Projects for Peace Grant

ANNANDALE-ON-HUDSON – Bard College student Ariha Shahed ’26 has won a Davis Projects for Peace prize for her proposal, “Train Track to Right Track: Supporting Bangladeshis Who Call the Railway Tracks Their Home.” Ariha, a first year economics and politics major from Bangladesh, will receive $10,000 to work with Bangladeshi families living in extreme poverty along the country’s railway tracks, communities which often go unnoticed. Partnering with NGO initiative BRAC Bangladesh, Ariha will help families connect with essential social protection programmes, access healthcare, keep their children in school, and improve their economic situations by sustainable and continual support.

Ariha’s project is designed to provide avenues for both short-term and long-term support to these communities through multiple efforts. It seeks to give families a way to re-establish their lives through BRAC’s “Ultra-Poor Graduation Initiative,” which aims to help people ‘graduate’ from extreme poverty, and will operate out of workshop hubs near train stations in the country’s three largest cities, Dhaka, Chattogram, and Sylhet. Healthcare volunteers will offer basic health classes to those living along the tracks in these cities, and Ariha will partner with a small local restaurant to organize a food drive to distribute meal boxes from these hubs. “This way, we can incentivize a long-term solution for them using a short-term solution, which have been proven to work better when supporting people in extreme humanitarian need,” Ariha writes in her proposal.

“The disparity between the families living below the poverty line along the rail-tracks and my own trips inside the comfort of a car had always struck me,” she said. “The first step to eradicating any kind of social inequality, I believe, would be to acknowledge one’s position of privilege. This project is a small way of giving back to the country and the people that raised me—something my parents have always valued. I want to thank my friend Mikaail Kaiser Shahabuddin (Davis Alum, Clark University ‘26) who will be helping me to co-facilitate this project and for his insights. As a Davis Alum myself, I’m overwhelmed and grateful to the Davis Foundation for such opportunities that help call attention to often neglected places like Bangladesh.”

Projects for Peace, a Davis Foundation initiative facilitated by Middlebury College in Vermont, is a global program that partners with other educational institutions to identify and support peacebuilders and changemakers across college campuses. Every year, 100 or more student leaders are awarded a grant in the amount of $10,000 each to implement a “Project for Peace” anywhere in the world. To learn more, visit:

About Bard College
Founded in 1860, Bard College is a four-year residential college of the liberal arts and sciences located 90 miles north of New York City. With the addition of the Montgomery Place estate, Bard’s campus consists of nearly 1,000 parklike acres in the Hudson River Valley. It offers bachelor of arts, bachelor of science, and bachelor of music degrees, with majors in nearly 40 academic programs; graduate degrees in 13 programs; eight early colleges; and numerous dual-degree programs nationally and internationally. Building on its 159-year history as a competitive and innovative undergraduate institution, Bard College has expanded its mission as a private institution acting in the public interest across the country and around the world to meet broader student needs and increase access to liberal arts education. The undergraduate program at our main campus in upstate New York has a reputation for scholarly excellence, a focus on the arts, and civic engagement. Bard is committed to enriching culture, public life, and democratic discourse by training tomorrow’s thought leaders.

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