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Mayerson Student Philanthropy Project to award $17,000 to local nonprofit agencies


Nationally recognized service learning program celebrates 15 years

University Marketing + Communications

HIGHLAND HEIGHTS, Ky. – In 1999, Northern Kentucky University created the Mayerson Student Philanthropy Project with the vision that partnering with local nonprofit agencies to provide hands-on learning opportunities for students would not only enrich the community in the short term, but would also produce NKU graduates who remain lifelong community stewards. 

Fifteen years later, those classes have had a hand in investing more than $1 million in more than 330 nonprofit agencies, most of them in Northern Kentucky and Greater Cincinnati. 

More than 3,300 students have participated in the program since the inaugural class in fall 2000, and those who complete the program report significantly increased awareness of and engagement with community needs.

“The investment of more than $1 million in community needs is an important landmark for our Mayerson Student Philanthropy Project. It means that dozens upon dozens of nonprofits, and thousands of people, have had more resources,” said NKU President Geoffrey S. Mearns. “But the money invested is just part of the story. 

“What also has happened over the past 15 years is that our students have enjoyed more academic success. Nine out of ten students who have taken a Mayerson class report a better understanding of their course material with student philanthropy as a component of the class,” he said. “We are proud of the community investment, but equally proud of developing a classroom approach that supports student success.”

On Dec. 1, the Mayerson Student Philanthropy Project will award $17,420 to 12 area nonprofit agencies that have partnered with NKU students this fall on a range of community projects.

From the German class that adopted Crayons to Computers and launched a crowdfunding campaign to help get school supplies to needy children across the region, to the Visual Arts class making handmade dolls for the Guardian Angels School at the Diocesan Catholic Children’s Home, each of the projects is making a positive impact in the community.

Those partnerships will be recognized at Tuesday’s celebration, which is 4-6 p.m. Dec. 1 at the James C. and Rachel M. Votruba Student Union Ballroom. The event is open to the public.

In addition to Crayons to Computers and DCCH, recipients include The Grateful Life Center, Brighton Center, Scholar House, the Mill Creek Watershed Council of Communities, NKCAC Head Start of Boone County, My Nose Turns Red Youth Circus, Pones, Inc., Know Theatre of Cincinnati, Doctors Without Borders, and Mentoring Plus.

“After 15 years, we have invested $1 million in our community and created a program that is a national model, duplicated at other colleges and universities across the nation,” said Mark Neikirk, executive director of the Scripps Howard Center for Civic Engagement. “But it is the stories of our students – their rich experiences as they learned about community needs and worked to address them – that keep us moving forward.” 

The Mayerson Student Philanthropy Project is an initiative of the Scripps Howard Center for Civic Engagement. It is funded by the Manuel D. & Rhoda Mayerson Foundation and a number of other community partners and businesses. This semester’s donors also include Citi, ArtsWave, Skyward, the Scripps Howard Foundation, and Toyota Boshoku.

The student philanthropy classes take one of two approaches.

Most classes receive between $1,000 and $2,000 from community donors, though students often raise extra funds on their own. The class examines needs in the community, explores what nonprofits are addressing those needs, and then awards mini-grants to nonprofits that the students believe will most effectively address a need.

Some classes also take an indirect model, where students work with the giving board of a major donor such as Toyota or Citi. The students review applications, visit nonprofits, and present their findings to the giving board, which decides what to fund.

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