For the students in my Nonprofit Giving course at Framingham State University, the growing opportunity divide in American society isn’t just a subject to talk about in class. It’s a problem they’re equipped to go out into the world and mitigate.
With generous support from the Learning by Giving Foundation, the class has $10,000 to give away to Boston-area nonprofits that are measurably increasing access to economic opportunity. This money will address what President Obama has called “the defining challenge of our time.”
The class first read and discussed my book Giving Hope: How You Can Restore the American Dream, which shows how philanthropy can enable Americans experiencing hard times to move their lives forward. Students subsequently researched nonprofits that, at least from their websites, appear to be doing promising work to fuel greater opportunity. They came up with a list of nearly 50 organizations which, after lengthy discussion, we whittled down to 27 whose work seemed to most closely fit our mission.
We spent a couple of hours creating a grant application, discussing the kinds of information we would need to make a proper evaluation of organizations interesting in obtaining funding. We then invited our list of 27 to submit proposals, 20 of which did.
In class this past week we evaluated the first ten. The class especially liked a few in particular. These, as well as more to be determined next week, are competing to make it into the top four. In a couple of weeks, the entire class will visit each of these four and subsequently decide how to distribute the $10,000.
Stay tuned for more about how this exciting process unfolds!