Business students in the Leading People and Projects (Management 411) class at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln College of Business became philanthropists this semester through a project called Strive to Thrive. While awarding $10,000 to local non-profits provided by Doris Buffett’s Learning by Giving Foundation, students learn both the importance of giving back and how to give responsibly.
Dr. Amber Messersmith, lecturer for the class, appreciates the opportunity Learning by Giving Foundation provides her students, who in essence, manage a grant application process from beginning to end. This is her third time leading the class, and she was impressed by how students analyzed the 31 non-profit applications and came to consensus distributing the dollars.
“The Learning by Giving Foundation’s mission is to create the next generation of philanthropists, and I believe that’s what we’re doing because the students really perform due diligence while researching the non-profits,” said Messersmith. “Last year students chose a project to help children, and this time they narrowed the scope down to childhood development – something that would help children long-term and focus on underrepresented groups.”
The project breaks students into teams focusing on different parts of the application process such as publicity, communicating with applicants, analyzing the grants and preparing for the awards ceremony. Narrowing the scope meant students had to reflect even harder on whether a particular applicant best met the requirements of the grant.
“The students know the non-profits inside and out, from looking at their financials to going on site visits and talking to them. They look beyond what’s on their websites. The students wanted to make sure applicant proposals were specifically in line with childhood development because those first years of a child’s life are so instrumental to what the rest of a child’s life looks like,” she said.
This semester Messersmith provided a new dynamic by introducing additional service projects into the mix. It gave students a chance to work with more of their classmates in the Lincoln community, and ultimately they wrote group papers on their projects.
The Service Project Reflection Group presented at the Strive to Thrive award ceremony to recap the service projects performed. Camille Sippel, a senior economics major from Groton, South Dakota, talked about how the service projects gave additional meaning to students by putting them on the frontlines of those who provide service on a daily basis.
“We implemented the SERVE Model which goes through all the basic steps of providing service in a meaningful way to the community. We selected services and educated ourselves on each group we chose. Then we responded to the need by going out into the community. The final step was to evaluate and celebrate which culminated in the final ceremony,” said Sippel.
Service projects included mowing lawns for veterans on September 11th National Day of Service and Remembrance, picking peppers in the garden on East Campus for the Lincoln Food Bank, collecting money for the Matt Talbot Kitchen, participating in Friendship Homes’ Safe Quarters drive and others.
After the Service Project Reflection Group presented their overview, the students presented the awards to the non-profits who received funding through the student selections. Awarded organizations included:
Bright Lights, $2,000 - Funding will be used to support students with need-based scholarships to attend class and the classroom supplies necessary for these students to experience hands-on learning. Funding will support 14 need-based scholarships for students to participate in Bright Lights classes and each student will receive a book from the book fair.
City Impact, $3,000 - Funds will go to expenses associated with the Impact Reading Center. The Impact Reading Center is a relationally-based, volunteer-driven, intensive literacy program.
Child Advocacy Center, $5,000 - Funds will support three training opportunities offered by the CAC: Darkness to Light: Stewards of Children, Child Abuse and Neglect 101 and Child Abuse and Neglect 201.