If $5000 suddenly fell from the sky and your goal was to give it away to help low-income people access greater opportunity, where would you donate it?

This is the task at hand for the 22 students in my Nonprofit Giving course.  The Highland Street Foundation put up the money; the students’ job is to figure out how to make good use of it.  Given that the U.S. poverty rate is currently at a record level, it’s difficult to know quite where to begin.  But fortunately there are many nonprofits doing great work to create opportunity.

One funding option the class discussed last week is workforce development.  The aim here is to mentor young people so that they obtain both job skills AND life skills.  So many American youth face the double jeopardy of not only having grown up poor but also lacking supportive adult role models to help guide them on the path toward a successful adulthood.  This is a problem that, as the New York Times recently reported, is plaguing many European countries too.  The class looked at the work being done by three nonprofits — Year Up, Future Chefs, and More Than Words – each of which is making significant inroads in mitigating this problem.

Other options for creating opportunity that we will consider in the course include Housing First and School Readiness.  Check back here to learn more about these.