|Class Learns About Philanthropy First-Hand by Giving Away $20,000
May 16, 2007
by Adam Martin '06
As spring semester ends, the fruits of one Davidson class's efforts are just beginning to take shape.
The class, "Philanthropy and the Non-profit Sector," taught by Professor of Political Science Ken Menkhaus, has awarded $20,000 in grants to five nonprofits in North Carolina, distributing more money than any other college class of this kind.
The grants signify the end of a semester's worth of work for Menkhaus’s thirty students. They were responsible for creating grant selection criteria, evaluating more than 118 organizations and their project proposals, and making the final selections. Students also completed other academic reading and writing requirements.
The grants will benefit programs at nonoprofits that serve women, low-income rural populations, and immigrants in North Carolina. The project winners will receive money for English language tutoring for immigrants in Charlotte, legal services for immigrants near Asheville, affordable housing and job skills training for women at risk of homelessness in Charlotte, senior companionship and travel assistance for the homebound in western North Carolina, and long-term counseling services for Hispanic women living near Asheville who have been exposed to domestic violence. Find more information about the winners below.
"This grant is extremely important to us since it will double in value due to a matching grant we've received from other sources," said Beth Maczka of Pisgah Legal Services.
"We are just thrilled and honored to receive a grant!" exclaimed Debbie Wellborn, who coordinates the Senior Companion Program at Appalachian State University. "It will truly benefit senior citizens in this area."
This is the most cash that Menkhaus’ philanthropy class has awarded to nonprofits in its four years of distributing grants. The Sunshine Lady Foundation, run by Doris Buffett, the sister of Warren E. Buffett, has previously provided $10,000 for each class to distribute. However this year, because the class received a whopping 118 grant applications, the Sunshine Lady Foundation doubled the grant money on a one-time-only basis.
Menkhaus and the class were recognized for their innovative efforts recently when they won the "Best Practices Award" for International Education and Learning in Student Philanthropy from NASPA, the association for student affairs administrators in higher education, at its annual conference.
The class plans to increase the value of its project evaluations to the community by sharing a list of "Davidson recommended" proposals with local churches, foundations, and individual donors who may not have access to information about many of these organizations across the state. Professor Menkhaus is working with the Z. Smith Reynolds Foundation, one of the largest N.C. foundations, to distribute the list this month. This kind of proactive collaboration and information-sharing in the nonprofit sector is unusual, and Menkhaus hopes it will continue with future classes.
In addition to evaluating local grant proposals, the students also explored a new way to make donations internationally using Kiva.org, a web portal using e-commerce and social networking technology that allows individual donors to give micro loans to entrepreneurs among the world's poor. In a sense the web site allows individuals or organizations to become their own Grameen Bank, the Bangladeshi microfinance institution whose founder Mohammed Yunus won the Nobel Peace Prize in 2006.
Menkhaus’s class evaluated the mission and function of Kiva, and twice attempted to distribute $5,000 in grants, contributed by Geneva Global, Inc. However technical glitches prevented the actual transfer. Geneva Global, a private-sector firm that has granted more than $55 million internationally to nonprofits in the past six years, advised the class in setting selection criteria and creating the grant review process throughout the semester.
Winners of the $20,000 Davidson College/Sunshine Lady Foundation Grant:
1. Triangle Family Services “Hope for Mothers” Project - $5,000
Raleigh – The grant will help pay for one bilingual counselor who will provide long term counseling for mothers exposed to domestic violence. The counseling should improve their coping skills, and self-esteem. Contact: Lisa Alred Draper, 919-821-0790 x320
2. International House of Metrolina “English Tutoring Program” - $3,000
Charlotte - The grant will help add a fourth English class to meet the overwhelming demand for English instruction to immigrants living in Charlotte. Started in 1993, the English Tutoring Program provides one-on-one adult tutoring to mostly college-age immigrants, in addition to a weekly class. The money will buy take-home materials and language tapes for students, and pay for increased hours for the part-time Project Coordinator. Contact: Adele Daniels, Development Director, (704) 333-8099, email@example.com
3. Pisgah Legal Services “Justice for All” Project - $3,000
Asheville - The “Justice For All Project” serves western North Carolina's growing population of non-English-speaking residents. Recent immigrants face many of the same difficulties as other low-income individuals who seek access to the justice system, and these difficulties are compounded by a language barrier. Working out of the PLS office in Hendersonville, an immigration attorney and bilingual support staff extend Pisgah's services to people with limited English proficiency in the 17 westernmost counties of North Carolina. Contact: Kit Rains, Development and Outreach Coordinator, (828) 253-0406
4. YWCA of the Central Carolinas, Inc. “Women in Transition” Project - $4,000
Charlotte – The grant helps fund one of two Resident Advisors at the YWCA Women In Transition (WIT) Program at 3420 Park Road, which provides safe, decent, affordable housing with intensive support services to more than 100 single women at risk of homelessness each year. The Resident Advisors are recent graduates of the Women in Transition program who work with current residents outside of normal program hours. Internet access and a computer resource library allow women to correspond with family and friends, design resumes and learn marketable skills for better employment. Every woman has a fitness center membership to help her maintain optimum overall health, and can attend volunteer-taught workshops on personal budgeting, organization, spirituality, stress management and employment counseling. Contact: Kirsten Sikkelee, Director of Transitional Housing, (704) 525-5770, firstname.lastname@example.org
5. Appalachian State University “Senior Companion Program” - $5,000
Jefferson - The grant will be used to reimburse senior companions for their meal and travel expenses as they go to the homes of disabled seniors and those living in nursing homes to perform light housekeeping, provide transportation to medical appointments, and offer friendly social contact.
Debbie Wellborn, Project Director, (336) 846-4898, email@example.com
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Posted By: Paige Herman