Recently, our group came together to discuss the 22 organizations that submitted the “wish lists” for us to consider. I honestly kind of dreaded walking into that decision time because all 22 of the organizations are solid and have great programs. However, I also realize that part of this class, and our mission statement, is to be strategic in how we allot the $50,000 that has been entrusted to us. That being said, the narrowing down to the 10 that will move on to be seriously considered for funding was necessary, and this type of discussion will have to happen again to get the final details ironed out.

The process as a whole was very efficient, and everyone had a voice. The point was made that everyone’s voice is important, which was a nice reminder for me, since I tend to not speak up in class for fear of not having anything important to say. The format of our conversations was a very open and respectful environment that sought to express the opinions of the majority and give ear to the concerns of the minority. We agreed on some things, and we naturally disagreed on others, but there was always the space to bring those disagreements to the forefront. Essentially, we struggled through them one by one together to get to the root of the matter. Since it was a student-moderated discussion, it gave me a better sense of all 20 of us being in this together as a team, getting through the uncomfortable process of telling deserving organizations “no,” and doing everything we can to ensure that the decisions we make as a board bring the most benefit to the Brazos Valley and meet the very real needs of those residing here.

Looking at the 22 organizations, there were some clear yes’s and some clear no’s, but the middle ground was very tough to navigate. I felt like I had to emotionally remove myself at times to make my decisions, and the balance between head and heart was a tough one to strike. At the same time, however, I had to keep my cynicism in check so that I ended up with something on my list at the end of it. I honestly did not think it was going to be that difficult to narrow it down to 10, but discussing everything with the board and hearing the reasoning behind my peers’ choices was a very beneficial element of this whole process. It was also comforting to know that other people were feeling the same thing because, ultimately, we all agree on wanting to help others and make the biggest impact possible. It is quite a powerful thing to be working with 19 other people who all share the same heart and all strive toward the same goal.

  • by Bailey Smith ’18

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We recently finalized our class/board mission statement, and I couldn’t be more impressed with our class. Our mission statement is to empower Brazos Valley nonprofits to advance positive and sustainable development through strategic giving.

The discussion that was had while we figured out exactly what we wanted to say was the epitome of productive collaboration. There is an unspoken sense of trust and respect woven into all of the conversations in class, and this day was no different. Ideas were suggested without hesitation because no one is afraid of having their ideas shot down by someone else. We built off each other, shared personal connotative meanings of words and rearranged phrases. All of this was done together as a group of 20 knowledgeable students.

I think it took longer than we all thought to be happy with the one sentence that would symbolize our class. I’m confident that everyone would agree, though, that it was definitely worth it. We now have a mission statement that our class couldn’t be more proud of. This experience showed me once more how this class is so much more than a class.  The 20 of us are working through real-world situations so we can affect and hopefully change the world around us.


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