NKU students award $11,000 to area nonprofits

For immediate release…
Wednesday – Dec. 18, 2013

HIGHLAND HEIGHTS, Ky. - Northern Kentucky University students awarded just over $11,000 to 10 nonprofits this semester as part of student philanthropy classes, providing funding for a diversity of needs across the region. Another $72,500 was distributed through a classroom partnership with Toyota Motor Engineering and Manufacturing North America of Erlanger.

That brings to over $800,000 the total amount of funds distributed to about 300 nonprofits directly or indirectly by NKU’s nationally renowned Mayerson Student Philanthropy Project since the program started in the fall semester of 2000. About 2,800 students have taken the classes in 36 different academic disciplines; this semester 146 students enrolled in seven classes.

“These classes are designed to raise students’ awareness of community needs, and how those needs are being met, while also complementing the learning goals of each course,” said Mark Neikirk, executive director of the NKU Scripps Howard Center for Civic Engagement, which coordinates the philanthropy program.

“A theater class, for example, may learn more about community theater by visiting and evaluating several of them,” he said. “A criminal justice course might learn more about effective sentencing by visiting nonprofits that provide treatment and other alternatives to incarceration. At the same time, the students in each class select one or two nonprofits to receive a small grant.”

Grants typically are $1,000 to $2,000, and are made using funds provided by community donors. The fall 2013 semester donors included Citi, the Mayerson Foundation and the Scripps Howard Foundation. Funds also were provided by student and faculty fundraising and individual donations from the community.

NKU is a national leader in incorporating student philanthropy in the college classroom, a pedagogy that has proven to have both short-term benefits (the learning outcomes of the class are improved as is student performance) and long-term benefits (graduates are more likely to donate to nonprofits, serve on nonprofit boards and volunteer for nonprofits). “It’s a win-win for academics and community stewardship,” Neikirk said.

Two of the fall classes followed a slightly different model of student philanthropy. A graduate volunteer management class taught by Dr. Julie Olberding in the Master of Public Administration program used what’s known as the indirect model. Students act as advisors to a funding board ‒ in the this case, Toyota’s community giving board. Toyota invested $72,500 in 12 area nonprofits in consultation with the NKU students. An undergraduate class awarded volunteer hours rather than money. The students gave 50 volunteer hours to the Society of St. Vincent de Paul of Northern Kentucky. The hours will be provided by Alpha Lambda Delta, NKU’s freshman honor’s society through First Year Programs.

Nonprofits selected by the students visited campus earlier this month to be recognized during NKU’s student philanthropy celebration. “Seeing the pride on the students’ faces when they present the awards to the nonprofit organizations they have selected is a highlight of the work we do all semester,” said Whitney McIntyre Miller, the faculty coordinator for NKU’s student philanthropy classes. “It is clear that they have such ownership over the process and their choice. Watching those interactions is a real source of joy for me and, I believe, others involved in the Mayerson Student Philanthropy Project.”

Twelve classes are planned for the spring semester. One of those classes is taking applications. It will award funds to nonprofits meeting Vision 2015 goals. To request an application, send an email to engage@nku.edu. Vision 2015 is a nonprofit, nonpartisan group focused on “a shared public plan that represents the region’s priorities” in northern Kentucky. Learn more at http://www.vision2015.org

Here is a complete list of the courses for the fall semester and the awards they made:

Strategies of Persuasion, Professor Jeffrey Fox
Madonna House $1,855
God’s Special Little Hearts $1,000

Protecting Water Resources, Professor Kristy Hopfensperger
Kentucky Waterways Alliance, Inc. $1,000
Keep Covington Beautiful $1,000

Alternatives to Incarceration, Professor Danielle McDonald
Interfaith Hospitality Network $1,000
Pro Kids $1,000
Homeward Bound, Brighton Center Donations

Introduction to Integrative Studies, Professor Jennifer Webster
Mentoring Plus $1,000
Paul’s Healthcare Mission $1,000
Family Promise of NKY $200
Newport Primary School Donations

First Year Experience & University 101, Assistant Director of First Year Programs Rich Shivener and Professor UNV 101 Tracy Hart
St. Vincent de Paul 50 volunteer hours

Urban Archeology, Professor Brian Hackett
Cincinnati Museum Center $2,000

Volunteer Management (“indirect model” conducted in partnership with Toyota), Professor Julie Olberding
Hearing Speech & Deaf Center $1,000
ArtWorks $2,500
The Advance Network $4,000
Big Brothers Big Sisters $5,000
Cincinnati State Technical & Community College $5,000
The Community Foundation $5,000
Literacy Network of Greater Cincinnati $5,000
Interfaith Hospitality Network $6,000
St Rita Comprehensive Communication Resources $7,000
Crayons to Computers $7,500
Girl Scouts of Kentucky’s Wilderness Road $7,500
CASA of Kenton and Campbell County $17,000

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