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Learning to help those who need it
Photos and Story by James Hill
Portland Community College is one of five colleges nationwide and the only community college to take part in an innovative project designed to teach students how to be philanthropists.
Through Campus Compact and the Fidelity Charitable Gift Fund, PCC received a $15,000 grant to establish an annual program, Students4Giving: Inspiring Philanthropy, which educates students about the importance of philanthropy by allowing them to fund community projects. The five schools are PCC, Boston University, California State University-Fresno, the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Whitworth University in Spokane, Wash. The five schools were selected from among 35 proposals.
During winter term, students in the project reviewed proposals of 20 nonprofit organizations and chose four recipients to receive a total of $10,000. The remaining $5,000 will be used as seed money to continue the project for future years.
Two classes join forces
The PCC Students4Giving: Inspiring Philanthropy’s Future Project is a collaborative effort between a social issues and movements sociology course taught by Kim Smith and an introduction to accounting business course with instructor Cynthia Killingsworth. Both are based at the Sylvania Campus, 12000 S.W. 49th Ave.
"Cynthia and I are both moved by how much the students have learned from this project," Smith said. "We hope that this growing movement to teach students about the value of community service and philanthropy will continue. Indeed, the future already looks brighter."
The project linked both courses to showcase the importance of understanding social issues, the grant-making process, and the role played by philanthropists and nonprofit organizations in meeting the needs of our communities.
"I found Students4Giving to be a very unique and rewarding experience," said student Bridget Berg of Southeast Portland. "My father was the director of a world wide nonprofit so I know firsthand how important it is for these organizations to get these grants. I had no idea, however, what went into the review process."
Berg is in her third term at PCC and is planning to get her accounting certificate, but also wants to transfer to a four-year college for a business degree. Berg was in the group of accounting students that reviewed the proposals and conducted site visits. They are now working to write a grant application to raise money so that future students can learn how to do philanthropy projects. She said she found the financial reviews of the nonprofits to be most valuable not only to her education, but to the art of narrowing down the applicants.
"It makes me appreciate the people who do this every day and with many more organizations," Berg added.
"Actually, working with the other class was great," said sociology student Brian Tompkins of Newberg. "There was no way we could have done this on our own. Both classes really worked hard and gave it their all for the good of the project. Any information exchanged between the two classes was quick and efficient."
Tompkins is an English major, who is in his first year at PCC. He plans to transfer to the University of Oregon to finish his bachelor’s degree, with an emphasis on creative writing. Tompkins said he learned about many nonprofits he had never heard of, all doing good work in the community.
"I wanted to give money to everyone who sent us an application," Tompkins admitted. "Narrowing down that list of 20 organizations was pretty hard. I learned a lot of ways that I could make a difference, through money, time, or even just spreading the word."
$10,000 dispersed to nonprofits on TV
The recipients of the inaugural Students4Giving campaign include: $3,500 to Friends of the Children for obtaining software licensing to operate the FASTT Math Program for youth and paying staff to install and test the program; $2,500 to Community Energy Project for development of the Volunteer Services Revitalization Project to help train volunteers to weatherize homes of those in need; $2,500 to Sisters of the Road Caf