Philanthropy students award nearly $50,000 to local nonprofits

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Tony Castrodale, Tommy Szymanski, Audrey Pentimonti and Brenda Matuszkiewicz hold a check for the Court Appointed Special Advocate Program (CASA). Photo by Barbara Johnston/University of Notre Dame.

Tony Castrodale, Tommy Szymanski, Audrey Pentimonti and Brenda Matuszkiewicz hold a check for the Court Appointed Special Advocate Program (CASA). Photo by Barbara Johnston/University of Notre Dame.

Students in Jonathan Hannah’s Philanthropy and the Common Good class awarded a combined $47,080 to five local nonprofit organizations during a small ceremony Thursday (Nov. 12) at the Hesburgh Library.

Philanthropy and the Common Good is a community engagement course that requires students to act as a board of directors and use thoughtful analysis to award as much as $50,000 in real grant money to deserving nonprofits.

The course, which explores the history and role of philanthropy in America, is a collaboration between the Hesburgh Program in Public Service and the Philanthropy Lab, a nonprofit that supports philanthropy education in the U.S.

This year’s recipients were the Boys and Girls Clubs of St. Joseph County ($10,280), the Court Appointed Special Advocate Program of St. Joseph County ($9,600), the Family Justice Center of St. Joseph County ($10,200), St. Margaret’s House ($10,000) and Corvilla ($7,000).

“This was a very challenging semester with the COVID-19 pandemic taking place. There are so many deserving nonprofits in greater South Bend, and our students worked incredibly hard to make the grants they felt could do the most good in our community,” said Hannah, director of the Program on Church, State and Society at the Notre Dame Law School and former director of foundation relations at Notre Dame. “I am confident these grants will help improve many lives, and equally confident that our students will use this experience to develop lifelong commitments to giving and service.”

The $47,080 in total grant money consisted of $43,080 from the Philanthropy Lab, $1,500 from the Office of Public Affairs and $2,500 from an individual alumnus. In addition to a base amount of $14,080, the Philanthropy Lab contributed $1,000 for every student who committed to future giving and $10,000 for Notre Dame President Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., attending the awards ceremony as a show of support for the course and for philanthropy more broadly.

Students Tarik Brown and Kelly Mansour will have the opportunity to represent Notre Dame and award $150,000 in additional grant money to deserving nonprofits next year, when they join students from other Philanthropy Lab partner schools at the organization’s annual Ambassadors Conference in Dallas.

“This has been my favorite class this semester, if not overall during my time at Notre Dame,” Mansour, a sophomore marketing major and Hesburgh Program in Public Service minor, said of Philanthropy and the Common Good. “I’ve loved combining the theory of philanthropy with contemporary examples, reading and hands-on work with nonprofits.

“My peers have also played a large role in making the class so enjoyable,” Mansour said. “Our diverse passions and backgrounds within philanthropy, volunteering in South Bend and understanding American nonprofit policies has been very enlightening and also simply interesting to hear. I’ve learned a lot from Professor Hannah, my classmates, the texts we’ve read and the organizations we’ve interacted with.”

Jacqueline Kronk, Maya Elliott and Maria Teel hold a check for the Boys & Girls Club. Photo by Barbara Johnston/University of Notre Dame.

She said the pandemic played a role in which nonprofits the class chose to support this year.

“We found ourselves favoring philanthropies that assist lower-income families with rent or provide meals to the homeless over those that focus on social justice or environmental work,” she said. “We were forced to make many tough decisions, especially as we all became more attached to and passionate about different organizations; however, I strongly believe we made excellent choices and that the grant recipients will do a lot of good with the funds.”

Jacqueline Kronk is chief executive officer of the Boys and Girls Clubs of St. Joseph County, which provides social, physical, academic, cultural and family experiences to disadvantaged youth.

“The investment of these resources into our organization is critically important right now,” Kronk said, noting the impact on learning and social and emotional development for children with the shift to online learning during the pandemic. “Those from lower socio-economic backgrounds are more likely to struggle academically and behaviorally. This, compounded by the anticipated learning loss, has the potential to be catastrophic for the southeast and west sides of South Bend. The Boys and Girls Clubs of St. Joseph County are doing everything we can to ensure that those we serve are seen, engaged and safe.”

Hannah developed Philanthropy and the Common Good in coordination with Cristina Desmond, program director at the Philanthropy Lab and a 2010 Notre Dame graduate. The course debuted in 2019.

Contact: Erin Blasko, assistant director of media relations, 574-631-4127, eblasko@nd.edu