McGregor students learn philanthropy for nonprofits
- Published: May 27, 2010
Last semester some students in a class at Antioch University McGregor went beyond learning about pressing social problems to financing the local organizations that address them.
Providing resources for pregnant women, educating teenage girls on the importance of exercise and teaching children about sexual abuse were the three activities students chose to support, not only with their volunteer time but with grants totaling $4,500.
“The Antioch philosophy is to be the difference you wish to see in the world and this is the practical application of that,” said Audrey Treasure, assistant director of development at McGregor. “It builds on the principles of service and involvement in the community.”
Financing for the new program, called Pay-it-Forward, came from a federal grant through Ohio Campus Compact, a coalition of 46 colleges in the state.
McGregor matched the grant, which is intended to run for three years until the program is self-sustaining. McGregor has applied to Ohio Campus Compact for another $15,500 which would be used by three classes this summer.
Not only was the class last semester the first to complete the program at McGregor, it was the first to do so in the state.
The class, Human Services Systems, devised grant proposal forms, advertised the grants, and selected from a dozen applications three local organizations to fund. In addition, each student volunteered for 15 hours at the agencies, getting hands-on experience.
“The students will understand how good altruism feels, and understand the impact that even small amounts of money can have on organizations,” said Dr. Michael Fishbein, president of Antioch University McGregor.
The three organizations chosen to receive the grants were the Pregnancy Resource Center in Springfield, the Springfield Youth Ministry’s Girl Power program, and Womanline in Dayton.
“We were really impressed by these organizations,” said Pat Moeller, one of the students in the class. “This has opened my eyes to what’s out there.”
The class chose to focus the grants on organizations promoting the health and wellness of children.
Pregnancy Resource Center used the grant money to continue providing pregnancy tests, pre-natal vitamins and parenting classes to pregnant women, including many teenage girls. The Girl Power program spent its grant on pedometers, or portable step counters, for seventh- and eighth-grade girls at a Springfield high school. Womanline put the resources into expanding its “I Can Tell” program, when the organization visits area schools to teach young children how to recognize and report sexual abuse.
“It’s important to support local non-profits that really make a difference in people’s lives,” said Elaine England, a student in McGregor’s health and wellness program. “You get to learn more about how a nonprofit works and how important they are to meeting the needs of people, especially those in vulnerable situations.”
According to Jane Brown, who teaches the Human Services Systems course, she was impressed by her students’ response to the program.
“[The students] now know what it means when you invest in organizations that are caring about other people,” she said. “We have really good students here who care about the world.”
Fishbein says he views the Pay-it-Forward program as one example of McGregor’s focus on socially engaged citizenship. At his inauguration ceremony on June 12 he plans to highlight three regional organizations worthy of support, including the Yellow Springs Community Foundation.
Getting students to participate directly in philanthropy is critical, according to Treasure.
“A liberal arts and humanities program helps students analyze and understand the needs in the community and how to meet them,” Treasure said. “Knowledge in action — that’s an Antioch education.”