Students will design an interdisciplinary project to answer a research question. Written and oral communication about the project throughout the semester will enrich the steps of the process.
- Professor Megan Downing
“This class participated in the Mayerson Student Philanthropy Project, in which we got to oversee a grant application provided by Be Concerned and we got to understand the review process. Reviewing this grant helped me understand what it takes to run a nonprofit even more than the past [class] guest speakers. Reviewing the [non-profit] overhead, the amount of food served and other expenses was mind boggling to see just how many people these seemingly small organizations serve. …. This class taught me, above all, perspective. It taught me to be more understanding of where I am and how to adequately serve my community with my standing as a person. I’ve always thought that the difference I can make in the world is relatively small. This class taught me to understand the true impact of even a single civil servant and what it takes to truly give your heart to a community. It also taught me that it's ok to be helped by that same community.” - Student John Wagner
“I feel like I have learned a lot from the Mayerson Student Philanthropy Project and from the guest speakers. I am so excited to get more involved in the community and work with more nonprofits in the future and this has been a steppingstone into that. I enjoy that we got to see more insight on nonprofits and how they work. I hope to do more hands-on service projects in the future, and I wish the pandemic would let us do more of those things. I think this class has given me many opportunities to learn and become more engaged in the community.” - Student Faith Athern
“This semester taking part in the Mayerson Student Philanthropy Project improved my view on service and helped me to reconsider many different concepts and ideas. As we were able to hear Paul Gottbrath, Nick Bliven, and Ruth and Jordan Klette speak in class, I enjoyed getting to hear more about what goes on in the world of nonprofits. It was very interesting to hear how they operate and raise funds, as well as how organizations giving out grants go through the process of deciding how to disperse their funds. Listening to these talks really helped me to understand a new part of the nonprofit world that I had not known about before.” - Student Alanna Pittman
“I realized that civic engagement and servant leadership necessitate interpersonal connections, specifically the means by which leaders may prioritize the welfare of people over the benefit of the community. I now believe that small acts of kindness may lead to bigger good and have a beneficial impact on society if enough people perform them.” - Student Na Le
”I have enjoyed and learned so much from the servant leadership and civic engagement class. Paul from Be Concerned and Nick from NKU Fuel helped a lot with informing our class about what they do and how they connect in the community. The information that they shared with us encouraged me to volunteer more often and get more involved with the community. … This project has motivated me to be more involved both on Campus and in my own community. I have learned to inform people about important topics that happen in our world and act in projects that happen in our community. I really liked Nick’s and Paul’s presentation and I would love to get more involved with what they have planned.” - Student Malachi Irby
"...the learning by giving aspect proved to be a great approach. Before being introduced to this project and hearing from Ruth and Jordan Klette from the Elsa Sule Foundation, I would not have been able to tell you anything about the grant application process and how it applies to nonprofits. Since then, I have learned quite a bit. Grant applications are there to help decide the long-term outcome and sustainability of organizations. While giving for the sake of giving is important, like everything else in a capitalist economy, money is always a factor. Nonprofits become organizations because there is an issue that they believe they can effectively improve or solve. I’ve learned that the only way that nonprofit lasts is if it has an evident overall impact. .... There is always much that can be done in the world but I’m glad I got to be a part of this process and our class because now I can implement this knowledge into my life and use it to become better civically engaged. " - Student Amina Omar
Be Concerned is the largest and longest continuously operated food-assistance program in Northern Kentucky. For 33 years, they’ve provided food assistance to thousands of low-income families in Kenton, Campbell, and Boone counties. Their food program has grown and diversified dramatically over the past five years, adding delivery options for those in senior living complexes or confined to their homes due to health or mobility issues, increasing fresh food options, and adding in ethnic food options. The pivoted quickly during the pandemic to provide contactless, drive through for pick up shopping. They also run a Christmas program that begin in 1968 and continues today – in 2021, 1,450 individual families were helped at Christmas.
"We plan to start offering health and hygiene products on a monthly basis in 2022 to our pantry and delivery program households. Items will include cleaning supplies like laundry and dish detergent and disinfectant wipes; shampoo, body wash, deodorant, toothbrushes and tooth paste, toilet paper and bar soap; diapers, wipes and other infant care needs; and women’s hygiene products. Most of our food program participants rely on SNAP (food stamps) for their grocery needs, but SNAP can’t be used for anything but food. So, none of the items above can be bought with SNAP. Consequently, our folks run short on them, or in some cases have to do without. (Try to imagine life without such basics!) Be Concerned has for years provided cleaning supplies and basic hygiene items twice a year, before Christmas and Easter. This grant would help us not only furnish those items each month, but greatly expand the types and varieties of health and hygiene products we could offer. We’d concentrate the grant on two areas: infant care items – mainly diapers and wipes -- and feminine hygiene products. Currently, we only have such items when they are donated to us. So, food program folks really can’t depend on us to furnish those products and consequently often have to divert some of their food budgets to buy them. We hope to start the project in the second quarter of 2022. Our intent is to make it part of our regular pantry and delivery programs."
Reflecting on their time with MSPP
It's very rewarding to work with Dr. Megan Downing on the MSPP. She is passionate about the program, constantly looking for ways to make it more meaningful and instructive for her students. And it's energizing for me to be involved with college students and the energy and imagination they bring to the project. Allowing Dr. Downing to choose the agency to receive the grant enabled her students to spend time they otherwise would have devoted to researching agencies and determining a winner to learn more about Be Concerned and take a deeper dive into our projects in the running for funding. That helped to develop a bond between Dr. Downing's students and our agency.
For more information, https://beconcerned.org/