By Rachel Hendrickson and Courtney Gamage
The Learning by Giving class allows IUPUI students the opportunity to experience the grantmaking process before ever entering the philanthropic workforce. From creating our own foundation to ultimately granting a worthy nonprofit organization $10,000, this course led our class through a thoughtful decision-making process and allowed for healthy debates in a controlled environment.
This unforgettable college experience would not have been possible without the generosity of the Learning by Giving Foundation, the IU Lilly Family School of Philanthropy, and the PNC Foundation. We also appreciate United Way’s contribution of knowledge and expertise of nonprofits in Central Indiana.
Much like the surrounding city of Indianapolis that IUPUI is located in, our own Learning by Giving class was full of diverse backgrounds, perspectives, and personal values, which impacted the mission and vision statements our class foundation created. These perspectives also influenced the individual outlooks on the current needs that exist in our community. Ultimately, we decided to focus on homelessness, education, and healthcare access as the most pressing issues the people of Indianapolis are facing.
Similar to the rest of the world, once the implications of COVID-19 hit, the process used in the past for awarding the Learning by Giving grant had to be drastically changed. What used to be an in-class participatory event of reviewing applicants’ proposals was moved to individual evaluations and class discussions via video calls.
One aspect of the grantmaking process that was severely impacted by COVID-19 was the much anticipated personal site visits. This is the step in the process where students would usually get to tour and see the daily impact of the organizations. However, our class had to resort to virtual site visits, which gave us a limited perspective on the physical grounds of the organization but offered time for in-depth conversations with the organization’s leadership. These conversations provided invaluable insight that aided when making our decision.
After much deliberation, our foundation decided upon Horizon House as the recipient of our grant. Their grant proposal for housing kits and bus passes to assist individuals coming out of homelessness will provide opportunities for personal empowerment and sustainable lifestyle changes. We were moved by their understanding and commitment to individuals facing homelessness in Indianapolis and felt that they had a responsible plan laid out to utilize the grant money.
The virtual ceremony awarding the check may have not provided the same opportunities for face-to-face celebration, but we know that the grant money received will be just as impactful in the fight to eradicate homelessness.