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Class Offers $10,000 to Local Agencies

 Class Offers $10,000 to Local Agencies


SUNY Cortland students again will review grant applications to award $10,000 to local non-profit organizations as part of a political science course devoted to philanthropy and civic engagement.

Using funds from the Boston-based Learning by Giving Foundation, students in the Philanthropy and Civic Engagement: Learning by Giving course will distribute up to five grants to Cortland County applicants. Students enrolled in the course will look to make grant decisions that have a direct impact on people in the community and stay focused on human services.

SUNY Cortland is one of nearly 40 colleges and universities nationwide to receive the Learning by Giving Foundation’s funding. The course also receives support from the College’s Political Science Department and Institute for Civic Engagement. None of the money from the Learning by Giving Foundation can be used on course-related expenses.

Based on requirements set by the Learning by Giving Foundation, all awards must be $2,000 or greater.

“It’s going to be eye-opening work for our students with a minimum award amount,” said SUNY Distinguished Service Professor Henry Steck, a professor of political science who teaches the course with Brooke Burk, an assistant professor of recreation, parks and leisure studies.

“They’ll learn quickly that charitable and philanthropic work, while very rewarding, isn’t simply spending money,” Steck said. “And they will learn that a wide range of non-profits do seek to benefit those who are in need in the community. In the past two years, groups with many goals and missions have received funds from the students.  Cortland County has a robust, diverse and impressive non-profit sector serving the needs of the county’s population.”

Interested applicants should contact Steck for the formal request for proposals (RFP). Applications are due Thursday, March 13, and award winners will be announced in April.

Final grant decisions will be made by the 20 students enrolled in the course.

The course, however, will involve much more than application review and discussion. Among the many expectations outlined in the course syllabus, students will read about foundations and non-governmental organizations, write several response papers and visit application sites.

In essence, the mission of the Learning by Giving Foundation to teach students the value of philanthropy — by giving both as donors and decision makers — will be realized.

“Our goal for this course is not just for students to award funds to individuals and programs in need, but to recognize that giving goes beyond the transfer of money,” said Burk. “We want students to understand the unique history of philanthropy in our country and be more aware of how each dollar is being used, and how they can be part of the philanthropic process as individuals or in their later careers.”

“In short, we’re a small, one-time grant-awarding foundation — distributing real money, to real people with real needs in Cortland County,” Steck said, emphasizing that eligible groups must reside in the county and that they must be 501 (c)(3) non-profits.

In the past two years, two sections of the course have awarded $20,000 to local non-profit organizations at awards ceremonies in the spring.

For more information on the application process or to obtain an RFP, contact Steck at 607-753-4807.