May 26, 2024

Students Live on $2 a Day to Raise Money and Awareness for Poverty Issues

For a week at the beginning of April, senior Andrew Walz and more than 35 fellow students moved out of their residence halls at the University of Mary Washington and tried to ignore the smell of food from campus dining halls. Andrew Walz (right) talks with other students about the Two Dollar Challenge. Photo by Leigh Williams '14 The students, along with Associate Professor of Economics Shawn Humphrey were participants in the annual Two Dollar Challenge, an experiential learning exercise aimed at raising awareness and funds for poverty-related causes. We followed Walz, who plans to join the Peace Corps after graduation, throughout the week:
“It’s always interesting to see the campus community’s reaction to our camp when it goes up on the first day.  I remember walking by the camp my freshman year with my head   down, hoping to avoid being dragged into conversation with people outside of the tent. While there are certainly some people who treat us the same way I did, there does seem to be genuine interest among some students.”
“It is always nice when people come by, look at the tent wide eyed, and ask why we would ever want to do something like sleep outside or live meagerly when we could so easily do so otherwise.  Their questions are often genuine and the start of a good conversation where we can talk about poverty.  These interactions always confirm my belief in TDC as a change making activity at UMW.”
The students spent the week in a homemade shelter on Ball Circle. Photo by Leigh Williams '14 The students lived in a self-made structure on Ball Circle and spent only $2 each day on food and other expenses. In the process, they hoped to raise more than $5,000 for La Ceiba, a microfinance institution, while shedding light on poverty issues.
“For me, the mental fatigue that comes with living on such a small level of nourishment is much worse than the physical issues. Even trying to go to class and focus or doing homework outside is 10 times more difficult this week than it is on any other week. The lack of food makes focusing that much harder, and that combined with being outside as much as possible makes getting things done nearly impossible but I have to keep trying.  It just puts the situation of the poor into perspective because my troubles with class cannot even compare to trying to hold down a job, search for a job, or taking care of a family.”
The Two Dollar Challenge, founded by Humphrey, is in its eighth year at UMW. The challenge has spread across the country, and this year has taken up roots internationally. Junior Jeff Paddock is participating in the challenge for one month while studying abroad in Peru. He is sharing his experience in a blog. Students placed signs on Campus Walk during the Two Dollar Challenge to encourage people to think about poverty issues. Photo by Leigh Williams '14 The challenge is part of the larger TDC organization, which also includes the Month of Microfinance movement and the Poverty Action Conference.
“I would like to think that even the memory of our tent camp will be enough to spark conversation for a few days after we have packed up and moved back into the normal college life.  That’s the objective of TDC, to provoke conversation and to give all members of the UMW community a chance to open up and think about their relationship with their fellow community members, whether they be rich or poor.  And who knows, maybe we inspired someone to participate next year who had been on the fence this year!”
For more information about the Two Dollar Challenge or to participate in next year’s challenge, contact Humphrey at

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

UMW Community Raises More Than $3,500 for Local Homeless Families

The University of Mary Washington community has raised more than $3,500 to help provide permanent housing for local homeless families. UMW’s efforts, spearheaded by Associate Professor of Sociology and Anthropology Leslie Martin, are part of a statewide initiative to get 740 Virginia families housed in 100 days. Professor Leslie Martin reached out to UMW faculty, staff and students to donate to the “Home for the Holidays” campaign of the Central Virginia Housing Coalition. UMW’s donations go through the “Home for the Holidays” campaign of the Central Virginia Housing Coalition, the Fredericksburg region’s answer to the state initiative. It aims to place 35 area families in permanent housing, just in time for the holiday season. For each $3,500 raised, CVHC covers a first month’s rent, a security deposit and utilities deposits for one area family. The agencies working with the homeless, including the Thurman Brisben Center and Hope House, will then provide services aimed at keeping the families in the homes long-term. “I am constantly struck by how giving and concerned all of the members of our UMW community are,” said Martin, who researches the rhetoric of homeless service providers and serves on affordable housing and homelessness task forces. When senior sociology major Kimmy Slater heard about the initiative, it reminded her of the residents at the Thurman Brisben Center, where she has been a volunteer for the past two years. With the help of fellow students, Slater decided to ask students to donate to the campaign. “Homelessness has always been near and dear to my heart ever since [I took Professor Martin’s] freshman seminar on homelessness and housing,” Slater said. Students have raised more than $300 through solicitations in residence halls and at the annual Thanksgiving dinner in Seacobeck Hall. Slater hopes the students can contribute at least $500 by the end of the semester. To make an online donation, visit UMW students, faculty and staff can drop off checks, made payable to Central Virginia Housing Coalition, or cash to Leslie Martin’s office in Monroe Hall.

UMW Philanthropy Class Accepting Grant Applications

University of Mary Washington students enrolled in a philanthropy class are seeking applicants for $10,000 in grant money to be awarded to local nonprofit organizations.

Each fall, UMW’s philanthropy course awards a total of $10,000 to area nonprofit agencies.

The students have formed a foundation called the University of Mary Washington Philanthropic Society (UMWPS), and hope to fund programs that promote social justice through community development, including, but not limited to, career training, educational programs, and health services according to their mission statement.

The class will award a total of $10,000 to one or more nonprofits on Wednesday, December 4. The deadline for electronic applications is Friday, November 1 and the deadline for paper applications is Monday, October 28.

Eligible applicants must come from the City of Fredericksburg; the counties of Spotsylvania, Orange, King George, Stafford, Caroline, Culpeper and Prince William; the Middle Peninsula or the Northern Neck region. This year, the primary interest of the Economics of Philanthropy and the Nonprofit Sector class is in projects that foster community development, and they are willing to consider a wide variety of alternatives..

Since 2005, classes under the instruction of Robert Rycroft, professor of economics, have provided grant money to local nonprofit organizations. The funding comes from philanthropist Doris Buffett’s Learning by Giving Foundation.

The Learning by Giving Program has supported similar undergraduate courses in philanthropy at institutions across the country. The success of the program led to the recent creation of the Learning by Giving Foundation.

Robert Rycroft Attended Philanthropy Symposium

Professor and Chair of Economics Robert Rycroft attended the Philanthropy Educators Symposium on Wednesday, June 19. The symposium was sponsored by the Stanford Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society, Doris Buffett’s Learning by Giving Foundation, and Giving 2.0 and was held at the Frances C. Arrillaga Alumni Center on the campus of Stanford University.

The symposium brought together educators who teach experiential philanthropy courses much like the Economics of Philanthropy and the Nonprofit Sector course at UMW. The educators were able to discuss issues and problems associated with teaching those types of courses. Experiential philanthropy courses are found at fewer than 5 percent of the colleges and universities in the United States, however symposium organizer and keynote speaker Laura Arrillaga-Andreessen called for similar courses to  become required at all colleges and universities by 2030.

UMW Philanthropy Class Awards Grants to Area Agencies

Students in the University of Mary Washington’s philanthropy class awarded more than $10,000 in grants to three Fredericksburg-area nonprofit organizations: the Lloyd F. Moss Free Clinic; Serenity Home of Fredericksburg; and THRIVE, the Healing Center. Class representative Matt Cronin announced the awards during a check presentation ceremony on Monday, Dec. 3 at the university’s Jepson Alumni Executive Center. The ceremony, streamed live through Google Hangout, was the culmination of the semester-long Economics of Philanthropy and the Nonprofit Sector course taught by Professor of Economics Robert Rycroft. This year, the class of 26 students received 53 applications for the grants, funded by philanthropist Doris Buffet’s Learning by Giving Foundation. “We chose the recipients based off of how well the programs they wanted to fund fit in with our mission statement,” said junior Taylor Knight. This year, the philanthropy class raised an additional $500 through bake sales and a restaurant donation. Alex Buffett Rozek, Buffett’s grandson and president of the Learning by Giving Foundation, applauded the students’ efforts. “We want to make a difference in American communities and we think students are the best conduit to do that,” Rozek said. The Lloyd F. Moss Free Clinic, operated by the Fredericksburg Area Regional Health Council, received $3,087 to purchase additional medical equipment for cancer screenings. “Funding from UMW’s philanthropy class will help to provide access to essential services, including annual pap smears, for hundreds of low-income, uninsured women,” said Karen Dulaney, executive director of the Lloyd F. Moss Free Clinic. “The Moss Free Clinic hopes that this project will inform patients about the importance of regular breast exams and pap smears and discourage them from skipping important health screenings. The clinic is proud to partner with the University of Mary Washington in providing critical women’s health services and education to women in our community.” Serenity Home of Fredericksburg, which offers residential substance abuse services for medically stable, chemically dependent adult males, received $5,013 to refurbish bedrooms in its primary location. “I was thrilled [when I found out about the grant]. To me, this was our last hope,” said Mary McCary, director of Serenity Home. “We are allowing them to live in a nice place. The money also will go to a computer lab to help the residents work on their resumes.” THRIVE, The Healing Center, which provides affordable health and wellness services for women, received $2,400 for its employment training programs. “After receiving initial treatment from mental health and traditional medical providers, women often find themselves at a crossroads and failing to thrive,” said Joanie Walsh, board member and program coordinator for Thrive. “One such transition involves recent job loss or re-entry into the workforce. Thrive’s Employment Preparation, Marketing and Career Coaching for Women program will pick up where the State of Virginia Workforce Center leaves off through mock interviews, weekly support groups, classes in resume and cover letter writing, administration of aptitude and work skills assessments and sessions with a certified life coach. Upon completion of the program, women will have gained an increased level of confidence thereby feeling better prepared to interview and enter the workforce.” The philanthropy course, in its eighth year at UMW, is one of 17 courses sponsored by the Learning by Giving Foundation at universities across the country this fall. Students in the class create an organization, solicit for grant nominations, review funding applicants and determine grant recipients. Since its inception, the UMW class has awarded more than $80,000 in grant money. In 2011, UMW students in the course awarded a total of $10,000 to the Lloyd F. Moss Free Clinic for its diabetes management and diabetes home testing programs; to Rappahannock Legal Services for its technology improvement program; and to Stafford Junction for its HUGS (Helping Us Grow Strong) program. Past recipients also include Habitat for Humanity-Middlesex, Rappahannock Goodwill Industries, the Bragg Hill Family Life Center, the Thurman Brisben Center, Rappahannock United Way, the National Housing Trust/Enterprise Preservation Corporation, the Fredericksburg Counseling Services, Inc., Homes for America: Heritage Park Academic Achievement Program, Rebuilding Together, Rappahannock Refuge Inc./Hope House and the Fredericksburg Regional Boys and Girls Club. The Learning by Giving Foundation was created in the summer of 2011 through the generosity of Doris Buffett following the success of the program by the same name through her Sunshine Lady Foundation. According to its website, “the Learning by Giving Foundation seeks to advance the next generation’s understanding of philanthropy by providing the financial, technological and intellectual tools to experience community impact and to make that knowledge widely accessible through an online forum.” Additional information about the foundation is available at To learn more about the philanthropy course at Mary Washington, contact Professor Rycroft at (540) 654-1500 or

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News release prepared by: Brynn Boyer                     

Economics of Giving

Young philanthropists take generosity to a new level.

UMW Philanthropy Class Awards Grants to Three Area Agencies

Students in the University of Mary Washington philanthropy class awarded a total of $10,000 in grants to three Fredericksburg-area nonprofit organizations: the Lloyd R. Moss Free Clinic, Rappahannock Legal Services and Stafford Junction.

Class representatives Ashley Cameron and Katherine Gibson announced the awards during a check presentation ceremony on Tuesday, December 6 at the university’s Jepson Alumni Executive Center. The ceremony was the culmination of the semester-long Economics of Philanthropy and the Nonprofit Sector course taught by Professor of Economics Robert Rycroft.

The grants are funded by philanthropist Doris Buffet’s Learning by Giving Foundation. Buffett, who attended the ceremony, commended the students for their hard work.

“I’m really proud of you,” said Buffett. “You learned a lot and I bet you had a good time doing it.”

This year, the class of 22 students reviewed 51 applications.

For comments from each of the recipients and for more information about the Learning by Giving Foundation, read the full press release.