Not too many years ago, we were part of the first cohort of UC Berkeley undergraduates piloting an experiential curriculum designed to teach and train students on how to become effective philanthropists, principally by “doing”.
This unique field-based approach, championed by the “Learning by Giving” program (LxG), taught us about the in’s and out’s of strategic grantmaking from a first principles perspective and culminated with a grant the class awarded to a local, well deserving nonprofit (mind you, this came after numerous hours of in-class framing, social evaluation, operational diligence, modeling, memorandum composing, deliberation, etc.).
In 2019, Doris Buffett launched the Learn.Lead.Give. Scholarship, in partnership with the Learning by Giving Foundation. This scholarship aims to cultivate a new generation of philanthropists who are not only leaders inside the classroom, but leaders in their community as well. Each year, this scholarship provides one high school senior who has participated in experiential philanthropy education with the opportunity to expand upon these studies through a four-year scholarship to a LxG college partner in the student’s community.
Learning by Giving (LxG) helps to launch young, social-change-makers on their paths to exploring injustice and provides a framework to understanding how philanthropy and the nonprofit sector can support more equitable communities. In short, there has never been a more important time for Learning by Giving than this moment.
A few weeks ago, the Learning by Giving team shared our public statement against racism and injustice. We committed to using our platform to amplify the voices of our students of color who are driving social change by addressing racial justice and inequality. Today, we share the first in a series of blog posts written by one of our LxG student alumni. Steven Swann recently completed our Philanthropy, Power & Impact course at Georgetown University and also serves as the Racial Equity Manager at Bread for the City in Washington, DC.
We want to start by saying to the Black members of the Learning by Giving community: Your lives matter. We support you. We see you. We stand with you.
Here at Learning by Giving, we have been following the tragic news of the recent murders of George Floyd, Ahmaud Arbery, and Breonna Taylor. We are deeply saddened by their deaths and angered by the institutional and systemic racism that continues to permeate our country. Learning by Giving stands in solidarity with the Black community and allies across the United States and the world in calling for justice and changes to the systems that continue to brutalize Black people.
As a result of the COVID-19 public health crisis, it's more important than ever to come together and lift each other up.
Through the #LearnGiveChallenge, we hope to highlight what people are learning while they practice safe social distancing at their homes, the innovative ways people are giving back to their community, and put a spotlight on nonprofits doing their part to help those affected by COVID-19.
Spread the word on social media (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, LinkedIn) and encourage your community to take part of the #LearnGiveChallenge to inspire others to give back during this time.
The Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) has thrown a wrench into things (and a massive wrench at that). Individuals, regardless of their race, origin, age or gender, across the globe are being impacted by the novel virus. As of March 25, Wisconsin has had 585 confirmed cases. Thankfully, countless doctors, nurses, and first responders have demonstrated heroic sacrifices––they have given up time with loved ones, self-care, and their own personal safety to fight the disease. Their personal and professional sacrifices do not go unnoticed.
Criminal Justice Reform. This is the solution that collectively, theGW Arc Foundation, decided to work to address mass incarceration. Criminal justice reform is a very broad, overarching concept, so immediately after we chose this topic we knew that we had to narrow itdown. This required research. Lots of research. Given that this project and course is part of the senior capstone for Human Services and Social Justice majors, we have spent years studying and understanding an array of social issues ranging from poverty to race relations. I have learned so much throughout my years in this major about inequity and different ways it can be addressed. Now this project is a real, tangible way for me to get involved and start to address this problem.
Coming to a school hundreds of miles away from home has presented many blessings and challenges. When I first got to Valparaiso University, I wondered how one girl from a completely different place could make a change. For a while, this question seemed too daunting to even think about. I shied away from learning about my community and resorted to staying within the university bubble. But, this came with no reward. If I was not learning about my community, what was the point of even coming to this new place to study? My image of the full college experience definitely included knowing the community in which I became a part of. This turned my thoughts around and prompted me to take action.
The event, For the Love of Giving! Trivia, was hosted by LxG’s Emerging Leaders Council – our goal is to bring together young people to learn about the effectiveness of LxG’s experiential philanthropy model and help us tell the story to an exponentially larger audience. Everyone is fortunate in some way, but for many folks in our communities the things they are fortunate for are heavily outweighed by the challenges they are asked to overcome without the support they need to do so. By teaching the next generation of givers on how to give effectively, and asking them to decide how grant money is allocated to the non-profits in their community, LxG is making double the impact – getting resources to those that need it while training a new generation of philanthropists.
If you’ve ever touched someone’s life in a way you never thought imaginable, held someone’s hand through a tough time, or given your time to something that you believe in, then you are a philanthropist. It took me years to come to this realization. There are many common misconceptions about philanthropy. Among them is the notion that philanthropists are only comprised of an older generation of upper class men. Naturally, that makes many of us feel as though we can never become philanthropists. Of course that could not be more inaccurate.