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The primary goals of The Philanthropy Lab are: (1) to spark and expand students’ interest and participation in philanthropy; (2) to increase the prevalence and priority of philanthropy education in U.S. colleges and universities; (3) to create partnerships with top students and professors from around the country to multiply the resources of our small staff, enabling us to thoughtfully and analytically distribute millions of dollars annually, a capacity we wouldn’t have otherwise, and (4) to become self-sustaining at our partner schools, allowing The Philanthropy Lab to leverage funds to expand the program to other universities.

Through the Philanthropy Lab, students are given the tangible responsibility of directing real money to nonprofit organizations in the context of full-credit university courses, thus becoming part of the Philanthropy Lab Advisory Board.
We believe it is important for higher education to help shape not only well-educated leaders, but also responsible citizens.
Often, philanthropy education is missing from curricular, co-curricular, and extracurricular offerings related to civic engagement and leadership. We work to increase the importance of philanthropy education at universities so that more students will consider what it means to give of their money, time, and skills with careful consideration.

Partner Schools

Since 2011, The Philanthropy Lab and its donor partners have given over $14 million to build philanthropy education at 32 universities across the United States. More than 4,400 students have participated in philanthropy courses affiliated with The Philanthropy Lab.

Each class receives up to $135,000, starting with a class grant of up to $50,000, to distribute to nonprofit organizations following the class’s evaluative process that involves research, comparison, site visits, and debate.

Our goal when partnering with a school is the inception and development of philanthropy education as a core part of university curriculum. After three to five years, we intend for partner schools’ philanthropy programs to evolve into self-sustaining courses, independent of The Philanthropy Lab. This model has proven successful with several former partners and has allowed the Foundation to expand its support to new universities.

We hope students’ experiences will broaden their knowledge of the nonprofit sector, challenge their assumptions about giving, and help them develop meaningful criteria for evaluating and comparing organizations.

Student Opportunities

The Philanthropy Lab currently offers students practical grant-making experience within the context of full-credit, university philanthropy courses. In addition, we offer students additional opportunities to further their own or others' philanthropy education and experience.

Ambassadors Conference
Participating ambassadors gather for a summer grant-making conference in Fort Worth, TX, that involves students from all Philanthropy Lab partner universities. The students convene to further consider thoughtful giving, connect with like-minded peers and experts, and serve on The Philanthropy Lab Advisory Board, tasked with making additional grants of up to $150,000.

Grant Evaluation
Philanthropy Lab course alumni evaluate the grants made by their class two years after the conclusion of the course and have the opportunity to provide further funding to nonprofit organizations and future classes at their university.

Giving Goal
Students demonstrate philanthropic leadership to others by forming personal philanthropic goals for the future and sharing their goals with others.

GrantWriting Board
Philanthropy Lab course alumni have the opportunity to continue their partnership with an organization worked with in your Philanthropy Lab class to help them apply for even more grant funding.


As we work to increase more students’ interest and participation in philanthropy, we aim to share the opportunity for experiential philanthropy courses with a broader range of universities.

In order to do this, we and our current partner universities are looking for additional donors who share a passion for philanthropy education. There are a variety of benefits to allowing university students to allocate some of your philanthropic dollars as a part of full-credit experiential philanthropy courses. In addition to supporting great nonprofit organizations, your money has the multiplicative effect of supporting students’ learning experiences.

If you are interested in supporting ongoing philanthropy education at one of our partner universities, please visit our Support A Course page or contact us at donate@thephilanthropylab.org. We will gladly provide further information.