A Message from Our Students
Let us explain: College students know what the market is for. Within the market, we trade resources based on prices, contracts and purchases. Anyone who has eaten at a dining hall understands this. Second, we all know what government is for: elected officials support public programs with funds from taxes, reallocating resources for the common good. Anyone who has received financial aid understands this. And yet, most college students haven’t the slightest clue what the “third sector” is. Why do nonprofit organizations exist? What is the mission of the Salvation Army, the Susan G. Komen Foundation, or the Texas Hunger Initiative, and what problems do these organizations aim to solve which aren’t addressed by prices or polling booths?
Everyone agrees that nonprofits play a huge role in affecting our society. Even so, college students (the future leaders of America) rarely understand how nonprofits operate or how they are funded. Taking notice, The Philanthropy Lab partnered with Baylor University in the Fall of 2014 to teach students how to strategically give away $100,000. The philanthropy class at Baylor was and is the only class of its kind at Baylor. It is the only opportunity for students to tie philanthropic theory, on the one hand, with philanthropic practice, on the other. The class not only introduces us to the pressing needs in our own backyard but also challenges us to partner with real organizations to find practical solutions. It has allowed us to get hands on experience with leaders of nonprofits and to incorporate a once-in-a-lifetime service opportunity into our cookie-cutter curricula.
Because this opportunity was so transformational for us, we would like to encourage more financial partners to join this cause.
Now, we know what question you’re asking: Why should someone give financially to a class on philanthropy? Why shouldn’t I, a donor, just give directly to the organization of my choice? Why give to students? Either way, whether one gives to our class or directly to a nonprofit, resources will still move from donors to nonprofits. The crucial difference, however, is that when you support our Philanthropy Initiative your gift is multiplied exponentially. How so? Because the class transforms the worldview of twenty students each semester, and inspires us to become lifelong givers. Through the process, we begin to understand what it means to be generous, how giving reflects our Christian calling, and why service is an imperative, not a choice. While we are engaged in long phone calls and conducting site visits to ground zero—all that time, we are acquiring a new vocabulary, a different lens through which to see our city, our neighbors, and our vocation. One gift to the class creates real change in the lives of students, the work of nonprofits, and the future of our community.
How often do we hear cases of two year olds with food insecurity, living in single parent households, unsure of when and where they will wake up next? And how often do we write these stories off and then go about our days? Well, when one of our students met RJ and learned that Talitha Koum’s play therapy was RJ’s only shot at escaping the pre-K to prison pipeline, he could not write RJ off so easily. RJ’s story becomes his own, and he began to imagine his life differently. These are the transformative moments that each student encounters.
Our goal is to help make the class sustainable unto itself. We, a group of students, started an endowment, hoping that might be so. We hope to grow an endowment great enough to fund the class each semester, so that any Baylor student that wants to participate has the opportunity to do so.
We ask you to give in order to shape and mark more Baylor Bears as future philanthropists who can tie generosity together with action.