New class to pay it forward next semester

By Shannon Findley

In the fall, Baylor students will have the chance to give back to the community. Students of the university’s new Philanthropy and the Public Good course will have the opportunity to allot $50,000 to $100,000 to multiple local nonprofit organizations to help meet needs in the Waco community.

Baylor is the 14th university in the U.S. to partner with the Once Upon a Time Foundation’s Philanthropy Lab project, a project that offers large grants to universities. In turn, the universities have the chance to offer students the opportunity to learn about giving in a hands-on way.

The Once Upon a Time Foundation is a private nonprofit organization based out of Fort Worth whose primary purpose is to promote the practice of charitable giving and volunteering.

The organization represents and serves a wide range of philanthropic and charitable institutions.

The foundation started the program in 2011 as a way to ignite students’ interest and participation in giving back to their community.  Through a grant application process, universities from all parts of the country have the opportunity to apply for a grant from the foundation.

“We want to give students practical experience in philanthropy,” said Lauren Sellers-Wolter, Baylor alumna and current employee of the Once Upon a Time Foundation.  “The students have to allocate the money we give them to different nonprofit organizations by the end of the class.”

Dr. Andy Hogue, political science lecturer and director of Baylor’s Civic Education and Community Service Program, will teach the course in the fall.

There are no prerequisites to the course, and any student has the opportunity to apply for it via an application process that includes a few short essays and a resume.

“Baylor’s mission is to educate men and women for worldwide leadership and service,” Hogue said.  “This is a really terrific way to plug in, in a meaningful way.”

At the start of the course, students will have a wide array of nonprofit organizations that they will be working with and learning about.  By the end of the course, students will have narrowed the number of organizations down to the few they want to focus on and invest into with the grant money.

“The students have reported that having real money heightens the level of seriousness,” Sellers-Wolter said.

Besides hands-on work with local nonprofit organizations, students in the Philanthropy and the Public Good course will learn about the ways different sectors of government are involved in philanthropy and the positive effect their own financial giving has on the community.

“It’s going to be a course with a lot of hard work but with a whole lot of reward as well,” Hogue said.  “It’s a wonderful opportunity, and I’m excited as I can be about it.”