As the semester comes to a close, a select group of Mays Business School students have been busy impacting the local Brazos Valley Community. The Mays Strategic Philanthropy course just wrapped up decision making on how to distribute $62,500 in grant funding.

Five nonprofits were selected to receive funding:

It will take a mix of strategy and innovative approaches to achieve Mays Business School’s vision to advance the world’s prosperity, but an effort to “do good” in our local community is one step forward.

Courtesy of the generous support from The Philanthropy Lab and a newfound partnership with the George H.W. Bush Presidential Library Foundation’s Community Grant Program, 17 Mays Business School undergraduates were challenged with distributing $62,500 to local nonprofit organizations. Each student assumed the role of a board member while essentially running a private foundation for a semester.

Throughout this process, the student board strived to elevate and empower nonprofits to accomplish their missions.

…Read more

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Any kind of deliberation is difficult. But when you’re deliberating in regard to philanthropies, the task gets even more difficult. Not to mention you have many rival opinions to consider. When deliberating these past few days over which philanthropies would advance to the next round, I found myself in awe of the different viewpoints surrounding my own. I could so easily have a positive view toward one organization, while another person could see something completely opposite.

This variance makes me appreciate our differences. No two people think the same, and even if two people’s decisions happen to align, the thought process in getting there differs greatly. I loved watching people come to conclusions and argue for their cause. Watching other get fired up over helping the needy fires me up!

Ultimately, this activity has renewed my hope in philanthropic giving. All too often I sit and wonder what’s happening to our world – why doesn’t anyone make moves? Why are we all sitting around waiting for someone else to get the job done? While this mentality is pervasive, I am thankful for people who want to fight. People who want to see change happen!

by Cristi Keeter ’18

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A few months ago, Jeff Bezos sent out an unprecedented tweet asking his followers to suggest how he might use his amassed wealth to do immediate good in the world. Some criticized him – didn’t he have advisors who were paid handsomely to do this kind of research for him? Was this merely a PR plug to make himself, a multibillionaire, appear more human, more compassionate than people would assume?

I didn’t think so. In fact, my initial reaction was quite the opposite. Here was a man who had absolutely no obligation to please the general public with how he chooses to give away his money. He is not an elected official –he is a brilliant entrepreneur who has completely upended the entire retail industry and revolutionized how people do business with one another. He didn’t lack to good PR to become successful – he is already one of the most successful CEOs in modern history.

I interpreted his tweet not as a sign of weakness, but as a sign of humility. He inadvertently acknowledged that he didn’t know it all, and that his Twitter followers might. Of course, he is still going to heed the advice of experts, but he also inspired people to come up with creative ideas and share them in a public space. I believe that the absurdly wealthy should use their resources to help others, but I believe that part of their duty is to not only give, but call attention to the idea of giving and inspire others to give too.

It is unlikely that I will ever experience the kind of potential to do good that Mr. Bezos does, but this class is as close as I have ever come. With great power comes great responsibility, and I know that I, personally, would like to have as much input and information from as many sources as possible in my pursuit for creating the most meaningful impact in the community.

by Hannah Walsh ’18

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