Undergraduate students enrolled in the Leading and Investing in Social Change: Redefining and Experimenting with Philanthropy iGive course had the opportunity to develop and run a grantmaking process this semester. On December 10, 50 first-year students gathered online to present a $7,500 grant to Blue Water Baltimore after spending the semester not only studying the art of philanthropy, but developing and running a grantmaking process.
Throughout their first semester at University of Maryland, students researched and studied the history and practice of philanthropy. They were challenged to come up with a cause to support and a specific organization to benefit from this grant. Students learned about the specific needs of our communities during the course, performed research on topics ranging from climate change to immigration to racial equity. After numerous passionate debates, papers and informal discussions, students narrowed their focus to find an organization committed to environmental justice and climate change. The class also wanted to support an organization that is helping empower and support communities with fewer resources that are impacted by climate change.
As a class, students created a request for proposals, read applications, interviewed applicants, conducted virtual site visits, and held discussions before choosing their final grant awardee. The class received proposals from a number of nonprofits, and ultimately selected Blue Water Baltimore.
Blue Water Baltimore takes a holistic approach to making safe, clean water a reality in Baltimore. They monitor water quality and hold polluters accountable; plant trees and replace hard surfaces with gardens; educate residents and students on how to help protect our water; advocate for laws and policies to fix the problems we see firsthand; grow and sell native plants at its Herring Run Nursery; and work hand-in-hand with the communities they serve.
This year’s grant ceremony took place entirely online, led by a team of twelve first-year students. The class, taught by Professor Patricia Bory and Professor Sara Gallagher, welcomed Leanna Powell, Director of Development and Alice Volpitta, Baltimore Harbor Waterkeeper, at Blue Water Baltimore, to the grant ceremony.
During a Q&A sessions with students about nonprofits, leadership, and success in social-impact careers, Leanna shared that, “Success is really achieved when you pick a focus that you agree is a good investment. Making those strategic investments of time, energy, staff, and money is how that vision gets incrementally pushed forward. If you can be clear and focused…you’re going to make the greatest impact.”
During the ceremony, students reflected on what they learned during the semester and the impact the course has made on their lives. Many noted that they learned more about the nonprofit sector, social issues affecting our communities, and ways to get involved. One student remarked that, “before this class I thought philanthropy was just about donating money. And, that you had to give a lot to be a philanthropist. But, now I know there is so much more than that, and that anyone can be a philanthropist. We’re all philanthropists now.”
The twelve student presenters included, Kelsey Flavin; Chris Sewall; Luke Creamer; Elena Schutz; Kateline Perrigan; Joshua Liu; Tim Behn; Autumn Geisler; Parker Leipzig; Samantha Metcalf; Sara Berman; and Miara Sasdi.
The Do Good Institute proudly provides the funding for this grant every year. To learn more about Blue Water Baltimore and the impactful work they do, click here.