Philanthropy Class Donates $50,000 to Local Nonprofits

Philanthropy Class Donates $50,000 to Local Nonprofits

Philanthropy Class Education Group

To “learn by doing,” students in SESP’s Learning Philanthropy course had the opportunity to actually donate $50,000 to nonprofit organizations that benefit children and adults. After studying the history and practice of philanthropic giving and extensively researching individual charities, student groups made donations to four local nonprofit organizations.

Student task forces investigated organizations in four key areas: education, child/youth development, health/wellness and poverty. During the 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 four student groups announced the recipients:

  • Education: Urban Initiatives, $14,000
  • Child and Youth Development: Curt’s Café (in Evanston), $11,000
  • Health and Wellness: Chicago Women’s Health, $9,500
  • Eradicating Poverty: Chicago Coalition for the Homeless, $15,500

The groups started with 48 organizations, made site visits to 19 organizations and finally selected four for donations of varying amounts. Their decisions were based on analysis of the nonprofits through criteria each group established. The education group selected Urban Initiatives, which runs sports-based youth development programs in underserved Chicago neighborhoods, because of its community focus and its fulfillment of all of the education group’s criteria. The health and wellness group chose Chicago Women’s Health Center because of its comprehensive services and health education, as well as its strong leadership, stable model and commitment to Chicago.

The child and youth development group chose Curt’s Café in Evanston because of its experienced leadership in a restaurant training program for formerly incarcerated and at-risk youth. The eradicating poverty group chose the Chicago Coalition for the Homeless because it organizes and advocates to prevent homelessness with a multidimensional approach that matches its mission.

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.

“Because of this class, you have a stronger understanding about what it means to give well – and what it means to give together,” Young told the students as the class wrapped up.

Students in the class emphasized the challenges of making choices among worthwhile organizations, as well as the importance of understanding one’s motivations for giving. Collaborating as a group offered its own challenges as well, students say.

The laboratory component of the course was made possible by the Once Upon a Time Foundation of Fort Worth, Texas. To enhance students’ understanding of and commitment to philanthropy, the foundation entrusted the class with a sum of $50,000. 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.

By Marilyn Sherman
Last Modified: 6/17/15