Student Voices: James Madison University Senior Theresa Edmonds Shares Her Initial Thoughts

October 10, 2018

We partner with colleges and universities across the country to offer accredited courses in experiential philanthropy to train and inspire a new generation of philanthropists and community leaders. To learn about the impact these courses have on the students, we’ll be sharing posts written by Learning By Giving students throughout the school year. Today, Theresa Edmonds, a senior at James Madison University, shares her story:

As a senior in the social work department, I had heard about the grant writing class. I knew that Laura Hunt Trull was the Professor for this class and that it counted as a social work elective. I was familiar with Professor Trull because I had taken her social policy class. I had no interest in working with policy prior to the class but over the course of the semester, Professor Trull helped ignite a passion in me for public policy. The passion I’ve built for public policy influenced me to take another class taught by Professor Trull, so I signed up for the Learning By Giving class.

On the first day of class, I still knew very little about what the course would entail. While Professor Trull talked about what we could expect over the coming semester, I became increasingly excited. I had no idea this class received a grant from the Learning by Giving Foundation and that we would have the opportunity to actually allocate grant money to local nonprofits. I love the format of the class because it allows the students to take control of the grant writing process. This dynamic is utilized from the very beginning of the semester and continues until the end of the semester when we choose which nonprofits will be allocated the grant. Last week, we had a class debate about accepting a request for proposal (RFP) response that came in two days after the stated due date. We decided to extend the due date by two weeks, allowing that agency, as well as other agencies who may have missed the date, to still have their RFP submission considered. It is a refreshing and empowering change to be in a classroom where the students have the authority to make such decisions.

I am a member of the assigning committee. This means that I and a team of four other students have the final say in which RFPs we will accept or eliminate. The maximum number we can accept is 17. Once we make these initial decisions, we will match two students with each nonprofit. We plan on doing this by allowing students to debate why they believe they would be the best fit for each agency. This could be based on passion for a certain cause or experience with a specific population. We will have to settle any debates that arise. I am looking forward to seeing how it plays out.

Overall, I am excited to see how this semester in grant writing will unfold. I will be able to practice social work in many ways, including interacting with my peers, settling debates, and working with local nonprofit agencies in my community. I will come away from this class with an increased knowledge of the challenges and triumphs faced by nonprofits. By the end of the semester, I know I will have gained a very marketable skill, something that now excites me as I enter senior year and prepare to begin my social work career!

James Madison