In our society, philanthropy is a topic that is typically reserved for those in the “elite circles.” Every year, millions and billions of dollars are exchanged between foundations and nonprofits to address a variety of local, national and global issues. Given the massive size of these gifts, it is easy to forget that change can happen on a smaller scale and that does not make it any less important. Thanks to a $50,000 gift from The Philanthropy Lab, students in the Strategic Philanthropy course at Mays Business School are certain to turn some heads this semester as they engage in this process firsthand.

As the instructor of the Strategic Philanthropy course, I have the privilege of spending about three hours a week with 20 passionate and committed undergraduate business students. Each one of these students applied and were selected to come together to determine the best way to give out $50,000 to the local community. This is no small task, to say the least! Throughout the semester, students will learn about various facets of philanthropy, hear from philanthropic leaders and experience the grant-making process from a foundation’s perspective. All the while, students will examine their own personal beliefs and convictions about giving and serving. I am confident that the impact from this course will persist long after the course is over – for both the students and local community.

Over the next three and a half months, our class will chronicle our process and expand upon our learning for anyone who is interested. Please follow this blog if you’d like to see the inner workings of a student-run grant-making initiative and get a taste of what Mays Business School and Texas A&M University are all about. I promise the end result will not disappoint, as you will get to revel in the celebration of our check ceremony to local nonprofit organizations.

From here on out, the blog posts will be the students’ words as they document their development and honestly reflect on the experience. With that, I’ll leave you with the following quote by Margaret Mead: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

– Kyle Gammenthaler