Rice course teaches students about philanthropy

A new class offered this semester through Rice University’s Center for Civic Leadership (CCL) taught students about the role of philanthropy in addressing social issues and gave them real experience with awarding grants to nonprofit organizations.

Photo by Rice's Center for Civic Leadership.

Students pictured with Vida Avery and CCL staff. Photo submitted by CCL.

Thirteen undergraduates and one graduate student enrolled in “Giving to Learn,” a three-credit academic course launched this spring. They studied with Vida Avery, a Houston fundraising professional, to learn about the history and role of philanthropy and to learn to be grant makers themselves.

Throughout the semester, students requested proposals from nonprofit organizations that already had a relationship with the CCL and vetted the organizations and proposals through a rigorous process. After deliberation, the students chose five organizations to receive grants ranging from $1,000 to $10,000.

Funding for the course was provided by the Philanthropy Lab, a Dallas-based national foundation that supports high-quality programs in philanthropy education. All of the funding went toward the awards distributed by the students.

Rice students present a grant to Agape Development. Photo submitted by CCL.

The Montrose Center, Agape Development, La Raza United, Undies for Everyone and The 5th Ward Enrichment Program received awards at a May 1 event in Farnsworth Pavilion.

“The original motivation for pursuing this course and partnership with the Philanthropy Lab was the Rich Family endowment, Circle of Giving and the encouragement of the Rich family for us to implement this type of programming for Rice students,” said Danika Brown, director of curriculum and fellowships for the CCL. “This semester’s course was an inaugural offering, but we plan to continue to find support to continue the course in the future.”

Brown said the CCL is committed to continuing to support unique opportunities for students to engage in experiential learning that has real impact on them and the surrounding community.

The CCL plans to offer the course again next spring. For more information, visit https://ccl.rice.edu/.

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About Amy McCaig

Amy is a senior media relations specialist in Rice University's Office of Public Affairs.