Philanthropy students award $59,000 to local nonprofits

Author: Erin Blasko

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Philanthropy and the Common Good students awarded a combined $59,000 to five local nonprofits during an event Tuesday (Nov. 28) at McKenna Hall at the University of Notre Dame.

Led by Adjunct Assistant Professor of Political Science Jonathan Hannah, Philanthropy and the Common Good is a collaboration among the Department of Political Science and Hesburgh Program in Public Service with support from the Office of Public Affairs, de Nicola Center for Ethics and Culture, Center for Citizenship and Constitutional Government, Sheedy Family Program in Economy, Enterprise and Society and Notre Dame alumni and friends.

The Philanthropy Lab, a Texas-based nonprofit devoted to philanthropy education, provides financial and curricular support for the class, which offers students from a variety of academic backgrounds the opportunity to engage with local nonprofits while learning about the history and role of philanthropy in the United States.

Central to the experiential nature of the course, students research and visit local nonprofits, request and review funding proposals and work as a board of directors to award real grant money to multiple organizations each year, representing a diverse cross-section of the nonprofit community.

“Teaching this course the past five years has been an honor, and I am truly excited to share that we will offer the course again in the fall of 2024,” Hannah said.

He continued, “I would like to thank my students for their commitment and hard work. Being a Notre Dame student is incredibly challenging, and the 115 students who have taken this course the past five years have gone above and beyond with their dedication. As I always say, this is not just another class. I would also like to thank the local nonprofit employees who spend time with my students. Michiana is fortunate to have an amazing network of nonprofit organizations and professionals.”

This year’s winners were:

• Cultivate Food Rescue, a food rescue organization devoted to ending the cycle of hunger and reducing food waste in South Bend and surrounding areas, received $14,000.

• Corvilla, which supports individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities in South Bend and surrounding areas, received $10,000.

• The CASA (Court Appointed Special Advocate) Program of St. Joseph County, which advocates for children in the judicial system, received $10,000.

• 100 Women Strong, which provides modest, one-time financial assistance to women in need in Berrien County, Michigan, received $15,000.

• Neighbor to Neighbor, which supports the refugee community in South Bend, received $10,000.


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The class has awarded nearly $350,000 in grants to local nonprofits since 2019.

Andrea Cramer is executive director of Neighbor to Neighbor, which will be able to serve an additional 50 people next year thanks to its grant.

“I’m just really thankful,” Cramer said, describing the overall experience as “very collaborative.”

She said the students were “really great.”

“They were really curious and very empathetic and asked great questions,” she said. “We had a really enjoyable and meaningful time together.”

In addition to Hannah, Notre Dame President Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., delivered brief remarks during the event, his presence netting an additional $10,000 from the Philanthropy Lab for next year’s class.

Among other things, Father Jenkins described the class as antithetical to the notion of institutions of higher learning as so-called “ivory towers” disconnected from their surrounding communities.

“It’s important that Notre Dame isn’t that (ivory tower), but that we’re part of this community, and we help others serve this community,” he said. “I think one thing this class does is that it connects the University with the community and with people who are helping to serve those in need in this community. It’s so valuable for that reason.”

As in past years, two of this year’s students — Madelyn Alford and Bobby Spence — will travel to Texas next year to represent Notre Dame at the Philanthropy Lab’s annual summer conference, where they will have the opportunity to network with fellow philanthropy students and advocate for additional money for one of this year’s grant recipients.

Spence is a junior political science major and philosophy and constitutional studies double minor from suburban Washington, D.C.

“I really didn’t know what to expect coming in, but I can say it’s definitely been in the top 3 of any class I’ve taken here at Notre Dame, and I’ve been through two-and-a-half years of classes here,” Spence said, adding, “I really cannot speak highly enough about it.”

Originally published by Erin Blasko at on December 01, 2023.