Earlier this week, the students in my Nonprofit Giving course at Framingham State University held a ceremony where they honored the work of the Boston-based nonprofit Bridge Over Troubled Waters. They awarded the organization a $10,000 grant to support its vast array of services and supports for the city’s homeless youth.

The overarching goal of the course was for students to see how giving can enable low-income people to access greater opportunity. The class invited local nonprofits to apply for funding that the Learning by Giving Foundation has generously donated to the university. Created by Doris Buffett, this foundation annually supports 40 experiential philanthropy courses at colleges and universities across the U.S.

At the beginning of the course, the class read my book Giving Hope: How You Can Restore the American Dream, which offers hands-on strategies for how giving can fuel opportunity. Then, they crafted a grant application, researched local nonprofits, and invited 20 of them to apply for funds. Students subsequently evaluated the 16 grant proposals we received. Lengthy discussion produced the list of four that received site visits (see prior post), and even more intense deliberation preceded the final vote. The students had the option of splitting the Learning by Giving grant in half, but the majority preferred to give it all to one organization.

At the grant ceremony one of my students, Dan, commented that “since the beginning of the process Bridge Over Troubled Waters was one of very few organizations that had strong support from a majority of the class. The organization offers countless services that include, but are not limited to, counseling, high school equivalency and career development, the mobile medical van, runaway services and a transitional living program. The organization addresses a group typically invisible from mainstream media but that deserves to have the opportunity to be upwardly mobile and should be near the forefront of national attention: homeless adolescents.”

Kudos to my students for selecting such a worthy organization to support!