A WashU sociology course supported by the Gephardt Institute presented $40,000 in funding to four local nonprofit organizations to bolster their work in the St. Louis community.
Philanthropy Lab, a course in Arts & Sciences’ Department of Sociology taught by Barbara Levin and David Rigby, gives students a theoretical and practical understanding of philanthropy today. The course, offered in partnership with the Gephardt Institute and supported by The Philanthropy Lab, culminates with the students granting funds to non-profit organizations in the St. Louis community.
On Thursday, May 4 at the Gephardt Institute’s Stix House, students in the class presented $10,000 to each of the four organizations they selected. The presentations marked the end of a semester that included requesting proposals from nonprofits, vetting the organizations, and analyzing how they would use the funds.
“I’ve been in awe at times during the semester, watching the passion that these students have for these issues that they’ve chosen to focus on,” said Rigby. “And watching them develop relationships and be engaged, creative, and professional as they reach out and do these site visits.”
“We gave them this opportunity to really learn more about our wonderful community, on both sides of the river,” Levin explained. “That’s very important for them and for the university, in terms of showing them that St. Louis might be a place that they hopefully will set up and stay.”
The organizations the students decided to fund are:
- Vitendo4Africa, a group that empowers communities through educational and outreach programs in Missouri and Africa, committed to promoting and preserving African history, music, arts and cultures.
- Bread and Roses, an organization that uses an arts lens to examine social and economic justice issues in all our programming. The group believes that cultural and creative expression are a means to affect deep and lasting social change.
- East Side Aligned, which works to help children thrive by bringing together collaborate groups and initiatives to build effective systems with and for young people and advance strategies to transform systems that create and perpetuate inequity.
- Senior Services Plus, which provides holistic elder care, aiming to help people age successfully by providing services to seniors. Their diverse offerings include meals programs, assistance with lawn care and home maintenance, and a wellness center.
The funding to Senior Services Plus will be used for a community garden project, explained CEO Theresa Collins.
“These funds are really going to make a huge difference,” said Collins. “Seniors are going to come, who maybe are alone and isolated and have a volunteer opportunity. they’re going to get their hands in the soil and they’re going to help grow plants that then they’ll be able to take home and eat from or that will go out to another senior in our community.
“We are so appreciative of this opportunity, and of these funds that are going to really, for many years, help thousands of people. So, thank you.”