Student Philanthropists Give Away Money

Student Philanthropists Give Away Money

students with a checkNorthwestern University undergraduates gave away $22,500 each to the non-profits Storycatchers Theatre and Chicago Hopes for Kids as part of the School of Education and Social Policy course Learning Philanthropy: Engaging in the Study and Practice of Giving.

In addition, class members Abigail Swallow and Eunice Lee traveled to Dallas where they won an additional $25,000 grant for Storycatchers Theatre during the annual conference of The Philanthropy Lab, which supports the class at Northwestern and dozens of other U.S. universities.

“There’s something truly enjoyable about talking to people who are thinking about making an impact early in their careers,” said instructor Karl Muth, the lead author of Charity and Philanthropy for Dummies, who also teaches mid-career adults and foundation executives in executive education philanthropy classes.

“Philanthropy isn’t their job; they’re students,” Muth said. “They’re experimenting with their career, thinking about the role philanthropy has in society. That’s a special time to intervene.”

Storycatchers Theatre works inside incarceration facilities, detention centers, and post-release program sites and uses writing and musical theater performances to help young people cope with the effects of trauma.

Chicago HOPES for Kids provides educational support and resources for children living in Chicago's homeless shelters.

“The class is for people who want to ponder larger societal questions and how problems that are too large for any one company or corporation to solve get solved,” said Muth, who has advised donors and foundations for more than 10 years, in addition to advising and directing his family’s philanthropic efforts.

“The idea of philanthropy as a societal activity or cooperative effort is one of the things young people can understand.”

The Philanthropy Lab is a national organization that works to increase philanthropy education in U.S. colleges and universities. Students are responsible for researching non-profit organizations, building an argument for or against certain groups, and convincing the rest of their classmates to direct real money to their favorite charity.

Swallow and Lee attended the Philanthropy Lab’s three-day Ambassador’s conference, where they met students from all Philanthropy Lab partner universities to dive deeper into thoughtful giving, connect with like-minded peers and experts, and make additional grants.

Swallow, a member of Northwestern’s fencing team, liked that the course blended classroom learning and real-life experience building.

“My biggest takeaway from the class is that young people rarely donate their money,” said Swallow, who is also pursuing a certificate in civic engagement.

“Typically, people only start giving consistently when they are well into their forties and fifties. This class showed me that it's easy to make giving a part of life, even if I'm only donating a small amount of money a year and that important organizations really do rely on small donations from individuals.

“I'd like to be a part of changing the notion that you have to be old and rich to donate your money and start giving more, now,” she added. 





By Julie Deardorff
Last Modified: 8/16/19