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Tediously sorting through 19 grant proposals, crafting a mission and vision statement, conducting site visits and more were just a few of the important things 19 students in the College of Human Sciences Grantmaking for Philanthropists spring 2024 class experienced as the semester concluded with a $2,500 check presented to a worthy Lee County nonprofit organization.

When it came time to dwindle 19 grant proposals down to one chosen organization, students decided to award the $2,500 check provided by the Community Foundation of East Alabama to the Good News Center at Auburn United Methodist Church. The Community Foundation of East Alabama serves as a local center for philanthropy by working with individuals, families, corporations, private foundations and nonprofit organizations to help them achieve their charitable objectives and address emerging community issues.

Good News Center logo

Joe Davis, director of mission and outreach at Auburn United Methodist Church, accepted the check on behalf of the Good News Center and said the funds would be instrumental in helping the church strengthen its food pantry ministry as the money will be used to purchase a freezer.

“The Good News Center is a very new thing at our church, and it’s taken a multipurpose space and dedicated it to community outreach ministries,” Davis said. “Whole life, compassion and care are our three strategies we’ve identified, and the food pantry is probably the ministry that touches the most people through our church. I was just looking at some numbers and over the past seven years on average we serve about 2,100 people per year or 145,000 pounds of food. So, this grant that will help purchase a freezer will impact 2,100 lives every year. This will also be great for saving food that’s not going to be wasted.”

Associate Professor and Philanthropy and Nonprofits Studies Program Coordinator Dr. Peter Weber has taught the course for the last few years and he emphasized that the class should be proud of the work they accomplished because it’s not easy to narrow 19 grant proposals down to one and inevitably, this makes for a difficult decision-making process.

“What you should take away is that in any sector whether it be profit or nonprofit, the decision-making process in any sort of institution is messy, chaotic and rushed and at times you don’t know how you got there but you got there,” Weber said. “What you experienced in this class is what you will be confronted with in the future.”

In addition, students in the course “CADS 3780 Grantmaking for Philanthropists” crafted their own vision and mission statements that were crucial when making tough decisions in the grant proposal process.

The mission statement for the class was “to support a local nonprofit in sustainably expanding its capacity and outreach” while the vision statement focused on “a diverse community fostered by compassionate service that leads by example and nourishes the holistic wellbeing of every individual.”

Jenna Baldwin, a junior majoring in public administration, said seeing the proposal requests and then actually conducting the site visits helped in the decision-making process.

“Seeing the proposal requests and actually going and visiting the sites really was a unique perspective getting to see it on a college level,” Baldwin said. “The actual process of having to narrow down the organizations was one of the hardest parts of this class, but the mission and vision statements were fun just to see what we were all interested in, but nothing is harder than narrowing it down to one recipient. Sitting at our table today, the most exciting thing about this class was the people in it and seeing everyone’s interests. I feel like this class really embodies the Auburn experience and I think a lot of us can agree it’s the people that make Auburn special.”

Katelyn White, a junior majoring in philanthropy and nonprofit studies, also took the class and said making the connections with the nonprofits was meaningful and her dream is to one day work for a nonprofit after college.

“I feel like this class taught me how to operate. I have the passion, but the passion alone isn’t going to make a difference so you need the strategy. This class taught me how to partner strategy and excellence with that passion, so I hope to bring that into a job someday.”

Katelyn White

“I loved working with my classmates but even more than that it was cool to get to connect with so many local nonprofits because I didn’t know there were so many in Lee County,” White said. “We got 19 proposals and I really enjoyed building relationships with them and learning what it looks like to be really thoughtful and intentional when you give. My dream is to work for a nonprofit and I would love to partner with a nonprofit that’s making a real difference. I feel like this class taught me how to operate. I have the passion, but the passion alone isn’t going to make a difference so you need the strategy. This class taught me how to partner strategy and excellence with that passion, so I hope to bring that into a job someday.”

The AUMC Good News Center Food Pantry serves residents of Lee County on Friday mornings from 8-11 a.m. Photo ID and proof of address in Lee County is required. For more information, click below.

AUMC Good News Center

For more information on philanthropy and nonprofit studies within the College of Human Sciences, click below.