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Tuesday, Feb. 27, 2024
The Observer

Notre Dame philanthropy class assists Michiana nonprofits

Twenty-four students in Notre Dame’s Philanthropy and the Common Good course are picking several Michiana non-profit organizations to award grants. The course receives $50,000 to $70,000 each fall, and students act as a board of directors to research organizations to receive the funds.

Philanthropy and the Common Good is offered in the fall semester by the political science department, the Hesburgh program in public service and the constitutional studies minor. The course is designed to teach the history and importance of philanthropy in the U.S. through an experiential learning style.

Current students say they appreciate the class's immersive approach. 

“It’s one of my favorite classes I have ever taken,” senior Rachel Stockford said. “Especially as a senior being able to be involved in the communities.”

Sophomore Liam Redmond said the class was a good opportunity for him to expand his boundaries as a student.

“It’s a great avenue to get out of the Notre Dame bubble and really serve people. It’s been my favorite class and so rewarding,” he said.

The non-profits chosen by the class address a range of causes. St. Margaret’s House and United Religious Community in South Bend are two organizations they have been in communications with this semester.

“It’s clear how much of a variety in these different nonprofits there are, whether it’s food related or people related,” Redmond said. 

The students work in groups and each research two organizations. They must conduct one in-person site visit and one virtual interview to gather adequate information that can be reported back to the class. 

“It’s a very unique experience to be able to go out to these and see what these nonprofits are like,” Redmond said. 

Afterwards, the class reviews the organizations’ funding requests and holds two to three board meetings as a class to make their final decisions. 

Grants will be given to three to five charities at an award ceremony scheduled for December. The minimum grant amount the course awards is $5,000 and the maximum is $20,000. Last year's recipients included the Youth Service Bureau, Motels4Now, Cultivate Food Rescue, Center for Community Justice and A Rosie Place for Children.

The 2022 sponsors for the course include The Philanthropy Lab (a Texas based program that sponsors similar programs nationally), Notre Dame public affairs, the de Nicola Center, Center for Citizenship and Constitutional Government and Brian Hegarty, class of 1976. 

Jonathan Hannah, who has taught the course since it was first offered in 2019, said he expects the “fall class will award just over $50,000.”

It will be offered in fall 2023 for its fifth year, and Hannah expects to be teaching it again. 

“We have so many amazing nonprofits in the Michiana area, and the students always put in a great deal of effort to ensure that these grants advance the common good in our community,” Hannah said in an email to The Observer. 

Supporting the Michiana area, Redmond said, is important and necessary work.

“There are people really struggling only miles away from campus, and they really need our help," he said. "They need our funding, and they need our support.”

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