June 20, 2024

UMW Philanthropy Class Promotes Social Justice through Grants

Students in a University of Mary Washington philanthropy class awarded more than $10,000 in grant money to three local nonprofit organizations that promote social justice through community development. Students Josh Bollinger, Lauren DiRago-Duncan  and Dorothy Stanton presented the awards to Best Buddies, Sunrise For All and Rappahannock Council Against Sexual Assault in an awards ceremony on Tuesday, Dec. 3 at the university’s Jepson Alumni Executive Center. UMW Students awarded more than $10,000 in grant money to three local nonprofit organizations as the culmination to their semester-long philanthropy class. “We chose these three organizations because their programs most closely matched our mission,” said DiRago-Duncan. “They are programs that wish to help people by addressing the initial problem in order to prevent the negative outcome. They also combine many different areas of interest rather than just focusing on one.” This is the ninth year of the class led by Robert Rycroft, professor of economics. The class of 23 students received 43 applications for grants. The program is funded by philanthropist Doris Buffett’s Learning by Giving Foundation and students organized a 4K campus run to raise additional funds. Best Buddies, which operates a chapter at UMW, received $5,245.52 to further its mission to develop one-on-one friendships between students and Fredericksburg citizens with disabilities to develop essential life and social skills. The UMW Chapter of Best Buddies received $5,245.52 to further their cause. “This grant will allow us to strengthen our chapter at the University of Mary Washington,” said Karen Glasser, director of state operations and programs. “Best Buddies will recruit and match at least 40 adults in one-to-one friendship that typically would not occur, and an additional 20 students will participate in Best Buddies as associate members, for a total of 60 participants.” Sunrise For All, an organization that provides life-improving equine therapy to economically-challenged adults with disabilities, received $3,200. “The grant allows the organization to offer new and innovative programs to adults with disabilities,” said Kathleen Smith, Sunrise For All board member. “The new program will combine therapeutic horseback riding and recreation sessions with interaction/workplace sessions involving grooming, feeding, barn maintenance for eight adults with disabilities, ages 17 to 35. The organization is very grateful to be given the opportunity to provide new services to additional clients in our community!” Rappahannock Council Against Sexual Assault received $1,667 to purchase computer equipment. “This grant is not only a chance for us to expand the quality and impact of our community outreach, but it is truly a sign of goodwill from our community” said Bebe Santa-Wood, development associate with RCASA. “Receiving this grant helps remind us of the importance of working together in fighting sexual violence and improving the lives of individuals in our community.” Under Rycroft’s guidance, the philanthropy class has awarded more than $90,000 in grant money over the past nine years. “I want students to appreciate the size and significance of the nonprofit sector, to know what some of the contemporary issues are surrounding nonprofits and philanthropy, to experience the difficulties associated with making decisions about allocating scarce funds to competing vital needs, to learn to work together in a common enterprise, to think about the possibility of a career in the nonprofit sector, and to experience the joy that comes from helping others,” said Rycroft. This year, students began the semester by forming a foundation called the University of Mary Washington Philanthropic Society. They chose to award the money, provided by the Learning by Giving Foundation, to organizations based on their mission to foster community development by soliciting grant nominations, reviewing applications and determining grant recipients. For more information about the UMW philanthropy course, contact Rycroft at (540) 654-1500 or rrycroft@umw.edu.