Reaching Out From Within

May 9, 2014

“To give away money is an easy matter and in any man’s power. But to decide to whom to give it, and how large and when, and for what purpose and how, is neither in every man’s power, nor an easy matter. Hence, it is that such excellence is rare, praiseworthy and noble.” – Aristotle

A select group of Baylor students will strive for such greatness this fall as the University becomes the 14th member of The Philanthropy Lab, which is associated with the Fort Worth-based Once Upon a Time Foundation. It is a full-credit course in which students will learn philanthropy’s history and philosophy and by semester’s end donate $100,000 to various Waco-area non-profit organizations.
Dr. Andrew Hogue, lecturer in political science and director of Baylor’s Civic Education and Community Service Program, will teach the Philanthropy Lab course.
“The main thing is instilling the value of philanthropy and understanding the role that private wealth plays in contributing to the public good,” Hogue said. “That’s a personal value that can come out of this. As well, we’re looking to give them some experience dealing with real money.”
Students will participate in a rigorous process of determining how best to allocate the funds. Hogue currently is in the process of handling much of the legwork for the course, corresponding with local non-profits and building a pool of 40-to-50 potential recipients. However, it will be the students who ultimately make the decisions.
“Once we get into the semester, it’s going to be driven by the students,” Hogue said. “They’re going to come to the table every day and function as a board of directors.”
A 4000-level course at Baylor, The Philanthropy Lab garnered immediate interest from Baylor students. Hogue said an application process was necessary to determine which students best fit the course.
In the end, 28 students were selected for the course.
“It was not an easy process,” Hogue said. “It was intended to be smaller, but there were some we just could not turn away.”
Hogue feels the class fits perfectly with Baylor’s Pro Futuris strategic vision, particularly in the area of informed engagement.
“To use the things we have as a university – our intellectual capacity, our expertise in some things, and in this case our financial resources – to leverage those things toward the benefit of the community, that is very closely aligned with the Baylor mission,” he said.
The $100,000, directly funded by the Once Upon a Time Foundation, will not be a singular gift; students must determine not only which non-profit organizations receive slices of the pie but also how big each slice will be.
Baylor joins current Philanthropy Lab institutions Harvard University, Middlebury College, Northwestern University, Princeton University, Stanford University, TCU, UCLA, University of Chicago, University of Michigan, University of Pennsylvania, University of Texas at Austin, University of Virginia and Yale University.
“I’ve learned from the other institutions: That is a really rich process,” Hogue said. “Some interesting debates emerge, and people are advocating for certain things. But it’s a really educational process because there’s a realization that there is a lot of need out there – a lot of good that can be done.”
Hogue also expects students will exit The Philanthropy Lab as better candidates in the job market.
“The skills that one develops in researching community needs and assessing the ways those needs are being met, those are the skills that are transferable and valuable,” he said. “These other institutions are quick to say that students are eager to share those experiences. They will translate into skills for life beyond Baylor.”
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