Every year, undergraduate students at the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy have the opportunity to learn about and practice grant making. In the course Learning by Giving, students choose what needs in the community to address.
They build a mission statement, request and analyze grant proposals, conduct site visits, and then make a decision to whom to grant the money and how much to give.
Learning by Giving class professor Dr. Greg Witkowski noted the collaboration and respectfulness needed by the students to ensure success, saying they listened to each other and made it a policy to come together in deciding the winner of the grant.
“They decide if they want to distribute the $10,000 to multiple organizations or grant it as a whole,” he said. “I’m there to facilitate and provide background information, but they make all of the decisions.”
This year, the grant was generously supported by the Learning by Giving Foundation and PNC Bank Foundation, with United Way of Central Indiana also being an important partner.
The class decided to grant the entire $10,000 to Edna Martin Christian Center and the Great Families 2020 program, a program that implements a two generations approach to fighting poverty by establishing programs and working with partners to affect parents and their children.
“It’s about giving families a hand-up, not a hand-out,” stated project manager Vincent Clark.
Not only does the Edna Martin Christian Center draw from its own staff and programming to help the families, it also works with over 100 partners to ensure that every need is met.
“Our goal is to take really good families and make them great,” Clark said.
Mia Black, the case manager for the program, said the grant funds will be used with passion, with intention, and with the utmost responsibility.
“We will be purposeful about how we use this money; we plan on addressing issues ranging from budgeting, to self-care, to self-esteem, etc. We want to help these families in Martindale-Brightwood be great for years to come,” she explained. “Thank you from the bottom of my heart for everyone who is going to benefit from this opportunity.”
One of the Learning by Giving class students, senior Josette Robinson, said the class decided to award the grant to Edna Martin Christian Center because it fit every aspect of the class’s mission statement of “supporting a two-dimensional approach to early childhood development and stability of low-income families in Marion County.”
Robinson, who conducted the site visit at Edna Martin, found that the center provided the most comprehensive programs for both children and families.
“It was eye-opening to see how long the center has been a staple in the community, as well as how well-respected and trusted it is,” she said. “Their passion for uplifting the community by providing the most comprehensive programs possible was evident throughout the visit. We are confident that this grant will fortify civil society.”
Robinson said each of the students contributed to the overall process, including engaging in research to select a cause to support, interacting with the speakers who came to talk about the process and how their organization fit in that process, and learning the importance of being good stewards of the funds.
“The course name says it all. We really did experience learning by giving!”
Abby Rolland is the blog content coordinator for the Indiana University Lilly Family School of Philanthropy.