April 27, 2012 — A new philanthropy class in the University of Virginia's Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy will award $50,000 in grants to Charlottesville-area nonprofits at a May 1 luncheon event, to be held from 11 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. in the Great Hall of Garrett Hall. Media are welcome; the awards ceremony will start around 11:30 a.m.
The grant funding was provided by an anonymous foundation that wants to encourage students to think about philanthropy, said Paul Martin, Batten's director of professional development and alumni relations and a former chair of the City of Charlottesville's Community Development Block Grant Task Force.
Martin and Jill Rockwell, assistant dean of student services, are co-teaching the course, "Philanthropy: Private Initiatives for the Public Good."
The 28 students have spent the semester deciding how to award this $50,000, acting, in effect, like a miniature private philanthropic foundation. Starting on the first day of class with 46 letters of inquiry from local charities, the students have done research, site visits, interviews and other due diligence to whittle the field to 10 finalists that work on poverty alleviation and youth development.
Debating along the way "forced students to define what they care about," Martin said, and required them to "struggle through the moral and ethical dilemmas of how to do this wisely."
The $50,000 can be given as one award or split up in any manner the students choose. The finalists include BankOn, Habitat for Humanity and Helping Young People Evolve, a program that offers free after-school boxing lessons to Charlottesville and Albemarle County youth.
Students and professors will be available for interviews before and after the ceremony.