At the start of the semester, I was expecting a typical lecture class with papers and group work. As a student planning on pursuing my Masters in Public Administration, I was very excited for this course because I hope to work in child advocacy nonprofit organizations. Once we found out that the class would be participating in the Learning by Giving Foundation’s Student Philanthropy project, I was eager for this hands on experience. I have only worked with our local AmeriCorps chapter in West Monroe, so to be able to see what goes on behind the scenes of a nonprofit really made me look forward to a unique class environment. I decided to be our Student Ambassador for this project which means I will be in charge of the website and will work with my classmates to curate a blog that documents the entire grant-making process.
The goal of this program is “to support and promote the study of philanthropy at the undergraduate level nationwide in order to prepare, empower, and inspire young adults to become effective, knowledgeable and skilled philanthropists and leaders in their communities.” This project is something we will be working on throughout the entire semester with several steps being taken as we go along. As the semester goes by, deadlines will help us stay on track with our group and individual work.
First, we will be sending the grant application to any local nonprofits we think should apply. Once all the applications have been submitted, we are to review these applications in class and discuss if they are eligible for the grants. Then, the class will be put into groups to conduct site visits. During this time we will also be interviewing organizations to evaluate their impact on the community. I believe this step is crucial to the process because this is where we see how mission statements are being followed by the nonprofit. After, we will be presenting the findings of the organization to the class making the case why we should give that organization the grant. Once the entire class has presented their nonprofit organization, we will discuss and vote on which two should receive the grants. Finally, our goal will be reached at the end of the semester once we award two local nonprofit organizations with a $2,500 grant each.
This process really provides us with firsthand experience working with nonprofit organizations which is something I feel is very beneficial for our careers. My classmates and I are all eager to apply the knowledge we learn in the classroom to this philanthropy project. We are communicating with these organizations closely and seeing what it takes to keep a nonprofit organization running successfully. Blogging all of our work will keep us connected with other Learning by Giving classrooms and hopefully we can be connected with other students to talk about what we are seeing in our communities. It is a very useful opportunity we have, being able to understand how these nonprofit organizations work with the government to initiate social change within our community in Northeast Louisiana.