Philanthropy students award $75,000 to local nonprofits

Author: Erin Blasko

Notre Dame President Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C. chats with students in the political science course "Philanthropy: Society and the Common Good" during a semester-end event. (Photo by Matt Cashore/University of Notre Dame)

Students in Jonathan Hannah’s Philanthropy and the Common Good class awarded grants totaling $75,000 to five organizations during a ceremony last month on the University of Notre Dame campus.

Now in its fourth year, Philanthropy and the Common Good is an experiential course that offers students the opportunity to engage with local nonprofits while learning about the history and role of philanthropy in the United States.

It is a collaboration among the Department of Political Science, Hesburgh Program in Public Service, Center for Citizenship and Constitutional Government and Constitutional Studies Minor, with support from the Philanthropy Lab, a nonprofit devoted to philanthropy education.

Additional support comes from the Office of Public Affairs and Center for Social Concerns, as well as Notre Dame alumni and friends.

The awards, presented in-person at McKenna Hall, were as follows:

  • Dismas House: $21,160.
  • United Religious Community of South Bend: $15,575.
  • La Porte Family Advocates: $13,265.
  • Church Community Services: $15,000.
  • St. Margaret’s House: $10,000.

The class is responsible for nearly $300,000 in grants since 2019.

Speaking during the ceremony, Notre Dame President Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., whose presence secured an additional $10,000 from the Philanthropy Lab for next year’s class, said, “The gifts this class has given are extremely important and will be very helpful to these agencies. But we do this, and we want you to be part of this class, because we want you to get the experience of understanding the needs of the community you’re in, participating in these efforts and supporting them.”

“It’s truly an honor to teach this class and be with these students each fall semester as they engage our community,” said Hannah, adjunct assistant professor of political science at Notre Dame. “Over the past four years, 94 students have taken this experiential learning course. They have collectively awarded grants totaling $283,680 to South Bend area nonprofits. These grants are funding remarkable organizations that do amazing things in the community, such as feeding food-insecure children, sheltering the homeless and allowing refugees to start the American dream.”

As part of the grant-making process, the students researched and visited local nonprofits, requested and reviewed funding proposals and worked as a board of directors to award tens of thousands of dollars to deserving organizations in the South Bend-Elkhart community.

Two students, Liam Redmond and Brian George, will travel to Dallas next year to represent Notre Dame at the Philanthropy Lab’s annual summer conference, where, among other things, they will have the opportunity to compete for additional grant money for one of this year’s winners.

Redmond is a sophomore neuroscience and entrepreneurship major from Vermont.

“Philanthropy and the Common Good was far and away the best class I have taken at Notre Dame so far,” Redmond said. “It was a very unique experience to be able to go out and see what these nonprofits are like. It was meaningful to have the chance to go on site visits and escape the Notre Dame bubble to serve people. The site visits made me realize how lucky we are and provided me with a new perspective on how important it is to help those who are struggling.”

He said the course had changed his “entire perspective” on philanthropy, and that he would “carry this perspective with me over my remaining years at Notre Dame and likely for the rest of my life.”

“For now, I plan to begin more regularly volunteering at some of the organizations I had the privilege of visiting,” he said. “Post-graduation, I absolutely plan to start giving back financially as soon as I begin my future career.”

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Contact: Erin Blasko, assistant director of media relations, 574-631-4127,