For the third year, students in SESP’s Learning Philanthropy course had the opportunity to donate funds to nonprofit organizations that benefit children and adults. After studying the history and practice of philanthropic giving and researching local charities, the class made donations totaling $100,000.
Student task forces investigated six key areas of philanthropy: education, environment and sustainability, arts and culture, child/youth development, human services and civil rights, and eradicating poverty. During their decision making process, students confronted many of the policies, politics and practices that influence giving decisions.
At a June 10 reception with representatives from the selected nonprofits, the six student groups announced the following recipients:
- Arts and Culture: Project Onward, $15,000
- Child and Youth Development: Girls in the Game, $15,000
- Education: Citizen Schools, $18,000
- Eradicating Poverty: La Casa Norte, $20,000
- Environment and Sustainability: Foresight Design, $12,000
- Human Services/Civil Rights: Dreamcatcher Foundation, $20,000
The groups started with proposals for 56 organizations, made site visits to 23 organizations and finally selected six for donations of varying amounts. Their decisions were based on analysis of the nonprofits through criteria each group established.
At Project Onward, which offers a studio and support network for people with disabilities, the arts and culture group designated its donation for a teacher residency. The child and youth development group chose to support after-school sports offerings for girls in underserved communities through Girls in the Game. In an effort to combat poverty, the donation to La Casa Norte, which provides housing for homeless, will go toward a vehicle and meals. At Foresight Design Initiative, which offers training in sustainable design, the environment group chose to support a fellowship. The education group selected Citizen Schools because it provides academic support, apprenticeships and career counseling at schools. At Dreamcatcher Foundation, the human services group chose to support services and advocacy to end human trafficking.
Learning Philanthropy: Engaging in the Study and Practice of Giving was taught spring quarter by Penelope Peterson, dean of the School of Education and Social Policy, and Lauren Young, director emerita of the Spencer Foundation. Students in the class learned about the role of philanthropy in the United States, including its history, social and cultural meanings, motivations and effects. They also explored their own concepts and values about philanthropic purposes and outcomes.
At the reception, Peterson explained how the class came about, after a phone call from the Once Upon a Time Foundation. She was delighted to be able to offer the course through the School of Education and Social Policy.
To enhance students’ understanding of and commitment to philanthropy, the foundation entrusted the class with a sum of $100,000. Once Upon a Time maintains that courses in philanthropy are beneficial for young people to understand the importance and process of charitable giving, as well as the challenges of making choices among worthwhile organizations.
“Each of the work groups had to present a case,” Young commented. “Those were not always easy conversations.”
Photos (top to bottom): The human services group, anti-poverty group, and arts and culture group present oversized checks to representatives of the nonprofit organizations they selected for donations.
BY MARILYN SHERMAN
June 19, 2015
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