This semester, undergraduate students enrolled in the Leading and Investing in Social Change: Redefining and Experimenting with Philanthropy iGive course got a firsthand taste of what it’s like to be a philanthropist. Students in the class were given the opportunity to not only study the art of philanthropy but also provide an actual $10,000 grant toa local organization of their choosing.
During the semester, students researched and studied the history and practice of philanthropy. They were challenged to come up with a cause to support and a specific organization to benefit from the grant. Students learned about the specific needs of the DC area during the course, and performed research on topics ranging from environment, economic justice, racial inequality, immigration, and education. They eventually narrowed their focus to education organizations that serve low-income, first generation and/or immigrant students in Prince George’s County and Washington, D.C. organizations. As a class, students created a request for proposals, read applications, interviewed applicants, conducted site visits and held discussions before choosing their final grant awardee.
The class received 30 proposals from local nonprofits, and in the end chose Reach Incorporated, a highly-successful out-of-school program serving 425 students at 9 sites in the District of Columbia. The organization hires teens to be elementary school reading tutors, creating academic benefit for both the students and their tutors. The students said they ultimately chose Reach Incorporated because of its current impact, potential for growth, support of ESL learners and immigrant populations and its innovative programming that ripples across generations.
Patricia Bory, iGive director, said, “I am so impressed with the student’s commitment and passion throughout the semester. They were so deeply engaged with the entire process and wanted to make sure they chose the most deserving organization. After weeks of evaluation and discussion, I’m proud they were able to come to a consensus about who that organization would be.” She added her gratitude to the Do Good Institute for their support of the course, which enables the students to give the $10,000 grant.
On December 16, the class hosted a ceremony to award Reach Incorporated with the $10,000 grant. During the ceremony, students reflected on what they learned during the semester. Many noted that they learned more about the nonprofit sector, with one saying, “it’s not just about going to volunteer or give money, to be a good philanthropist, you really understanding the infrastructure and moving pieces to make better informed giving decisions. In addition, there was a consensus that there is not a single way to achieve success, and it is important to be open-minded in the nonprofit space.
William Ross, development director, Reach Incorporated said, “We know this wasn’t an easy process, but I hope it was enlightening. Spending time to learn about these issues and engage with groups on the ground speaks volumes about your character. We are humbled and honored to be this year’s iGive grant recipient.”