Philanthropy course attempts to burst the Baylor bubble

The philanthropy and public good class allows Baylor students to learn more about philanthropy and leadership while giving back to the Waco community. Audrey La | Photographer

By April Oddo | Reporter

At Baylor, students come from many different financial backgrounds and have a variety of cultural experiences. While some students may have more understanding of philanthropy and service to local communities, others may have no knowledge of serving the public good.

Baylor’s course on philanthropy and the public good is an academic program that trains students to expand their knowledge of philanthropy and connects them with the ability to help provide funds from donors to local nonprofits in Waco.

“Students in this class not only receive critical training so that they can lead effectively, the added bonus is that through their grant-awarding process, local nonprofits have the opportunity to engage with some of Baylor’s most talented students,” Nancy McEachern — business development director and producer for Insurors of Texas — said in a story released by Baylor External Affairs,

Baylor introduced the Solid Gold Neighbor Initiative in September 2019, and this course serves as a way to include all five pillars: economic development, education, health, cultural wealth and city growth.

“This bridges the gap between the university and community while providing significant resources to fund key local initiatives, each supporting at least one of the Solid Gold Neighbor pillars,” the Baylor External Affairs story said.

Throughout the years that the course has been offered, hundreds of thousands of dollars have been given back to the Waco community. Cuevas Peacock — Baylor assistant director of community relations – cultural wealth — said the class has helped students become more aware of the work happening in the Waco community.

“We are all about bursting that Baylor bubble and helping students be engaged in Waco,” Peacock said. “After their awareness is raised, they are able to engage in a way that is really tangible. They are engaging, they are aware and they are learning how to go out and be givers.”

Kansas City, Kan., senior Mary Quarnstrom said the course changed her perspective on philanthropy and serving the community.

“I thought that giving was a way to create social clout or to make yourself look good or to get write-offs on your income statement, but I think No. 1, that might have been based on a pretty narrow definition of philanthropy,” Quarnstrom said. “A lot of the readings that we have done about philanthropy can include your time, and there isn’t really just one definition.”