Student philanthropy classes a win-win for NKU, donors and local nonprofits

News from NKU…

For immediate release…
Thursday – Nov. 29, 2012

Student Philanthropy Classes a Win-Win
for NKU, Donors and Local Nonprofit Community

– Ten nonprofit agencies that operate programs ranging from water purification in Africa to shelters for battered women and children in Greater Cincinnati have received grants totaling over $12,000 awarded by five Northern Kentucky University classes as part of a program designed to teach community stewardship. Another $75,000 was awarded in partnership with Toyota Motor Engineering and Manufacturing of North America. NKU’s Mayerson Student Philanthropy Project classes presented the awards at a ceremony in the Student Union Thursday afternoon.

“I know I’m new here at NKU, but I’m not new to the idea of a university being committed to the public good,” NKU President Geoffrey S. Mearns said in remarks at the ceremony. “These classes exemplify this commitment and are part of the reason NKU is known nationally for connecting public engagement to the academic mission of the university.”

NKU’s student philanthropy classes generally work with $2,000 that they may award to one nonprofit or divide between two nonprofits. Each class is asked to evaluate community needs, research to determine which nonprofits are most effectively meeting those needs and, in the end, decide as a class which nonprofits will make the most effective use of the funds.

A second student philanthropy structure at NKU is known as the “indirect model.” For this model, a class acts as an advisory group to a funder, recommending distribution of grants. NKU’s partner this year, as in 2010 and 2011, was Erlanger-based Toyota Motor Engineering and Manufacturing of North America. Toyota worked with an NKU public administration graduate class to award $75,000 to 15 nonprofits as part of the collaboration.

The Mayerson Student Philanthropy Project was launched in fall 2000 as a way to educate students more about nonprofits and more about philanthropy. Mayerson courses use service learning pedagogy to connect the philanthropy experience to learning outcomes. A full report on the program is available at

“Combined, the direct and indirect models of student philanthropy classes have distributed over $750,000 to nonprofits over the past 12 years,” said Mark Neikirk, director of the NKU Scripps Howard Center for Civic Engagement. “But more than the money, these classes have taught our students about community needs and how they are being addressed by our region’s amazing nonprofits.

“We’ve tracked students after graduation and found that student philanthropy increases the likelihood that graduates will be community stewards – serving on nonprofit boards, donating money to community causes and volunteering their time. So these classes have immediate impact but long-term impact as well.”

Next spring NKU will present eight more student philanthropy classes. The classes are made possible by donations from the Manuel D. & Rhoda Mayerson Foundation, the Scripps Howard Foundation, Citi, Vision 2015 and the Friedell Committee for Health System Transformation.

At Thursday’s awards ceremony, the following nonprofits were awarded grants:

  • Strategies of Persuasion, taught by Jeff Fox
    - Family Promise of Northern Kentucky $1,000
    - Henry Hosea House $1,570
    - Northern Kentucky Children’s Advocacy Center $1,570
  • Arts for Social Change, taught by Daryl Harris
    - Sunset Players $2,000
  • Alternatives to Incarceration, taught by Danielle McDonald
    - City Link Center $1,000
    - Joseph House $1,000
  • Orientation to College and Beyond, taught by Mei Mei Burr and Tye Mortensen
    - YWCA of Greater Cincinnati Battered Women’s Shelter $1,000
    - Lighthouse Youth Ministries $1,000
  • Protecting Water Resources, taught by Kristine Hopfesnsperger
    - Mill Creek Watershed Council $1,000
    - Waterstep $1,000

Also saluted at Thursday’s ceremony were the nonprofits receiving grants from Toyota and the graduate class taught by Julie Olberding that worked with Toyota in an advisory capacity:

  • Arts and Humanities Resource Center $4,500
  • Artworks Cincinnati $2,500
  • BDPA Education & Technology Foundation $5,000
  • Bi-Okoto Drum & Dance Theater $2,500
  • CASA of Kenton County $17,000
  • Cincinnati Art Museum $2,500
  • Cincinnati Black Theater Company $5,000
  • Cincinnati Community ToolBank $5,000
  • Cincinnati Opera Association $2,500
  • Cincinnati State Technical & Community College $5,000
  • Cincinnati Youth Collaborative $3,000
  • Community Foundation of Westchester/Liberty Twp. $5,000
  • Comprehensive Community Child Care (4C) $5,000
  • Girl Scouts / Wilderness Road $7,500
  • Hearing, Speech & Deaf Center of Greater Cincinnati $3,000

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