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SPAA Students Award Local Nonprofits with Grants as Part of Spring 2021 Experiential Philanthropy Initiative

Rutgers University–Newark Experiential Philanthropy Initiative: Nonprofits funded by students since 2016

Students enrolled in Associate Professor Lindsey McDougle’s Volunteerism and Philanthropy course this spring were provided with funds as part of an experiential philanthropy initiative supported by a generous grant from the Learning by Giving Foundation. These students were responsible for distributing funds to area nonprofit organizations that they believe make an important difference in the community.

Students chose to grant $5K each to the following local organizations:

  • Masakhane – "Masakhane is a youth-driven organization providing community-based sexuality education in and around Newark, NJ. Masakhane’s anti-racist, pro-queer, and pro-trans approach to sex-positive programming seeks to promote sexual liberation, including the right to pleasure, for marginalized communities."
  • Spread the Love Foundation – "The Spread the Love Foundation strives to prevent teen suicide by educating students and adults on mental illness, which is the root cause of both suicide and addiction."
About Experiential Philanthropy

In recent years, colleges and universities across the country have begun investing significant resources into this innovative new pedagogy. It is considered to be a form of service-learning, and has been defined as a teaching and learning approach that integrates charitable giving with academic study in order to enrich learning, teach civic responsibility, and strengthen communities. Experiential philanthropy is intended to teach students not only about philanthropy, but also about how to evaluate philanthropic responses to local social issues. Unlike traditional service-learning, where students participate in an organized service activity that meets identified community needs, experiential philanthropy may or may not involve an organized service component. In fact, the primary goal of experiential philanthropy is not to create greater service opportunities, but to provide students with the opportunity to assume the role of a philanthropic funding agent on behalf of their local community.

“Since 2016, students at Rutgers-Newark have distributed over $80K in grant awards to 40 plus nonprofit organizations. The funding has come from two RU-N Chancellor's seed grant awards as well as the Learning by Giving Foundation,” said Dr. McDougle.

When the class and Dr. McDougle reached out to the organizations, they were ecstatic about receiving the grants. “We are so grateful for this donation and it will go a long way assisting with our programs and services here in Newark,” said Stephanie Franklin, founder and executive director of Masakhane.

The grant received by the Spread the Love Foundation will be largely used for adolescents and young adults who do not have insurance or have high copays for mental health services, according to Christine Miller, CEO of the foundation. “We will also use it for crisis counseling as needed and for much-needed educational resources,” she said. “It has been a very difficult year in fundraising for us and this means so much.”