College of Liberal Arts

After Lesson in Philanthropy, UT Freshmen Give $75,000 to Charity

Wed, May 10, 2017
A check ceremony of a previous Philanthropy: The Power of Giving class.
A check ceremony of a previous Philanthropy: The Power of Giving class.

Freshmen at The University of Texas at Austin were given the task of designating $75,000 to nonprofit organizations who they believed needed it most — an annual assignment that teaches students the power of philanthropy.

The students will present checks to their selected charities at 4 p.m on May 12 in the UT Austin Glickman Conference Center (CLA 1.302B), 305 East 23rd Street.

“Philanthropy: The Power of Giving” is an undergraduate studies signature course taught by Pamela Paxton, a sociology and government professor in the College of Liberal Arts. The class is designed to teach students about the nonprofit sector and the importance of philanthropy to American society. 

At the beginning of the class, students were divided into groups based on their philanthropic interests. After careful research and deliberation, each group selected one charity to focus their efforts on and debated their selections with rival groups in front of the entire class.

After each group made their case, students voted on which and how much each charity would receive. Their decisions are as follows:

  • Cambodian Children’s Fund, a $20,000 gift for education and family support programs for children in a former dump community in Cambodia.
  • The Boma Project, a $15,000 gift to an entrepreneurship program for ultra-poor women in drought-threatened, arid lands in Africa.
  • Easter Seals of Central Texas, a $15,000 gift restricted to the early childhood intervention program.
  • Mercy USA, a $15,000 gift restricted to the water, food, health relief organization’s Syria program.
  • Charity: Water, a $10,000 gift to dig a well in Malawi.

In addition to the $75,000, students raised money for smaller charitable gifts, including a $2,000 donation to the newly created Harrison Brown Memorial Fund.

Funding for the course was provided by The Philanthropy Lab, as well as gifts made by individual donors.

This is the sixth time “Philanthropy: The Power of Giving” has been taught on the UT Austin campus, bringing the amount donated to charities selected by a class of undergraduate students to nearly $500,000.

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