The Gift of Giving

Students develop leadership skills and support local nonprofits

The Gift of Giving

Since the fall of 2014, Baylor students have stewarded and given away nearly $800,000 in grants to nonprofit organizations through the full-credit course Philanthropy and the Public Good and in partnership with Fort Worth-based Philanthropy Lab. The course helps students provide real funds for real needs in communities while cultivating a philanthropic spirit and developing as innovative leaders poised for a lifetime of generosity. In the fall 2020 semester, $90,000 in grants were given to the nonprofits selected through the course.

Funding for the fall course was provided by the Baylor/Waco Foundation led by the Solid Gold Neighbor Ambassador Council, which is composed of 25 local community members representing a range of industries and community engagement initiatives of Baylor’s Solid Gold Neighbor program. Additional funding was provided by Aramark and the Philanthropy Lab.

Following COVID-19 safety guidelines, students from the class joined President Linda A. Livingstone, Ph.D., to virtually deliver the good news to each nonprofit receiving funds. The class of 16 students spent the semester carefully and thoughtfully evaluating nearly 50 nonprofit organizations, ultimately selecting to fund seven: The Advocacy Center for Crime Victims and Children, Care Net Pregnancy Center of Central Texas, CASA of McLennan County, Community Cancer Association, Esther’s Closet, Talitha Koum Institute and The Cove.

The students’ diligent assessment of nonprofits and their foresight when determining how to allocate funds for the greatest impact impressed Benji Gomez, chair of Baylor’s Solid Gold Neighbor Ambassador Council.

“The Council’s passion was definitely felt during the decision-making process; it was encouraging to know that, even during a virtual gathering, the intent to enhance the nonprofit community was palpable,” Gomez said. “Our world has certainly become unpredictable, but it was good to hold on to a necessary constant which is giving back to those who are less fortunate than ourselves. The chosen nonprofits will do just that with vigor.”

The primary goal of The Philanthropy Lab is to ignite students’ interest and participation in philanthropy, encouraging thoughtful giving by providing funds to University philanthropy courses with the goal of becoming self-sustaining and enabling students to evaluate nonprofit organizations and award grants. Throughout the course, students were encouraged to consider how to be generous and strategic with their time, talent and treasure.

Austin Gould, a junior University Scholar major from Jupiter, Florida, was a student in the fall 2020 course.

“This class showed me firsthand the passion and ingenuity of the nonprofits who serve the Waco community,” Gould said. “Working with and learning from these organizations has been a meaningful experience, and I will continue to be involved with nonprofits well after I graduate from Baylor.”