Management and pre-med student Kathryn Anderson ’19 and biomedical engineering student Sarah Swift ’20 both have a heart for philanthropy and a mind for business. After attending the Philanthropy Lab Ambassador’s Conference with students and nonprofit organizations from all over the nation, Anderson and Swift brought back a $25,000 grant and a promising future for Save Our Streets (SOS) Ministries in Bryan.

“I was one of six professors to serve as facilitators and mentors for the weekend as we led discussions and conversations related to philanthropic topics all weekend,” said Kyle Gammenthaler, a lecturer at Mays Business School. “It is important that we recognize our students for this well-deserved accomplishment.”

After taking the Strategic Philanthropy class taught by Gammenthaler and learning how to interview CEOs, conduct site visits, write grants, and strategically donate, Anderson and Swift were selected to represent SOS at The Philanthropy Lab Ambassadors Conference. This annual three-day conference hosts student representatives from 20 accredited universities — including Harvard University, Stanford University, and the University of Michigan — to advocate for their class’s grantee to receive further funding. After weeks of preparation, the representatives traveled to Dallas to network with other students and present their nonprofits. The decision to advocate for SOS was unanimous.

“SOS Ministries originally applied for and received funds from the Strategic Philanthropy course in Fall 2017 and Spring 2018,” said Kyle Salmon, executive director of SOS Ministries. “In addition to equipment, a coordinator is needed for the various vocational trainings that will be offered. SOS Ministries was elected by Mays Business School as the organization that Kathryn and Sarah would present to the Philanthropy Lab Ambassadors Conference in Summer 2018.”

This $25,000 grant will provide support for the coordinator overseeing the Jack Threadgill Training Program. Designed to rescue, restore, and release people from drug and gang-infested environments, this program provides male participants the opportunity to learn work skills such as carpentry, plumbing, and welding, and life skills such as financial management, conflict management, and work ethic.

“We are currently in our 25th year of ministry and have enjoyed a long relationship with Aggie students as volunteers,” says Salmon. “Approximately 150 students currently volunteer with SOS Ministries on a weekly basis to help with various programs and developing relationships with children and teens. We are so thankful for the Strategic Philanthropy course and the work Kyle Gammenthaler does with the students. They have truly been a huge blessing in helping us transform lives.”

Swift wrote in a reflection about the journey she and Anderson took to receive this grant for SOS Ministries that the pair decided not to look at the event as a competition. 

“If we were to receive funding, we would not be the ‘winners,'” she said. “The true winners would be the people who will receive the benefit of these funds.”

By the final vote, she said, the excitement to fund SOS was evident, along with an eagerness to see how the program will develop before the follow-up on the grant in two years.

“Overall, and beyond the grant-focused part of the conference, I absolutely loved engaging in conversation about nonprofit business throughout the conference,” she wrote. “My experience through the class and through this conference has truly changed my heart in how I view giving—as a responsibility rather than an option. I became so invested in our predetermined, non-competitive mindset that it even felt strange when people offered us their congratulations at the end. I knew the polite response was to say ‘thank you,’ but, I believe SOS Ministries deserves the congratulations. They are the ones changing lives through their philanthropy, and I was just blessed with the opportunity to serve as a voice for the work that they do.”

  • The Strategic Philanthropy class will be distributing $72,000 this fall. The funding comes from the George H.W. Bush Library Foundation, John and Debbie Bethancourt, and The Philanthropy Lab.