Led this semester by Dr. Patricia Snell Herzog, the Melvin Simon Chair in Philanthropy and associate professor of philanthropic studies, students in the Lilly Family School of Philanthropy’s “Learning by Giving” class got first-hand experience in the grantmaking process.
They worked together to create a foundation, identify community needs, and grant funds to an organization. Thanks to the generous support of the Learning by Giving Foundation and PNC Foundation, students in this course are able to grant $10,000 and have a “big check” ceremony at the end of the semester.
Students used the mission and values of the class, and of their newly formed foundation, to guide their decision-making process. After analyzing data on community needs, they identified food insecurity as a major issue affecting Indianapolis. They worked together to find an organization that’s working to end food insecurity by increasing access to fresh, healthy food in the community or addressing the root causes of the issue. They looked into nonprofits, created grant-information packets, requested proposals, and designed their selection process.
“I really expanded my capacity in terms of understanding how deadlines have a real-life and ancillary impact,” said Lauren Graves. “The most important thing this course gave me was experience, and that relative familiarity will certainly boost my confidence in a future nonprofit grantmaking experience.”
At the end of the semester, the students voted to award a $10,000 grant to Soul Food Project, a nonprofit urban farm in Indianapolis that fosters wellness through food access, hands-on education, and creative space for artists. The class then organized and hosted a ceremony to award the grant, and recognize sponsors and faculty for their support.
During the ceremony, Danielle Guerin, executive director of Soul Food Project, expressed her gratitude, excitement, and plans for using the grant money. Funds will help pay for interns and to employ more young people.
“I am proud of the students for all that they accomplished together in just a few months,” said Dr. Herzog. “This semester, due to a concern for underrepresentation among grant recipients, the students prioritized funding a grassroots organization with a social and racial justice orientation. It was impressive how they collaborated to find a project that is truly grassroots.”
Written by Rachel Leininger.