Students in the “Private Solutions to Public Problems” course in the Batten School presented grants to four local nonprofits May 2.
As part of their capstone project, students researched four major areas of philanthropy in Charlottesville and Albemarle County: homelessness, food insecurity, aging out of foster care and immigrant and refugee services.
The class held a ceremony on May 2 with University President Teresa Sullivan in attendance to award nonprofits involved in these issue areas with grants from the Once Upon A Time Foundation, a foundation based in Texas that looked to Batten to immerse students in local philanthropies.
Grants were awarded to the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank, The Haven, Great Expectations and the Charlottesville Free Clinic.
The Haven works with homeless individuals in the Charlottesville community to provide them with housing and other support services.
Great Expectations provides foster students in central Virginia with academic resources and college and career planning services.
Fourth-year Batten student Jasmine Chiu said the Once Upon a Time Foundation wanted to help students address injustice in their community.
“They wanted to engage college students with this philanthropy idea and educate them on what it is and how we as citizens can look at our community and address the injustice that resides in it,” Chiu said.
After a semester of research, the four groups were able to award a philanthropy of their choice with a grant from the Once Upon A Time Foundation, Chiu said.
Fourth-year Batten student Brennan McElhone emceed the grant award ceremony and worked with the group focused on the issue of aging out of the foster care system.
“The best summation of this class that I can think of is for every moment that I've asked ‘why am I learning this?’” McElhone said. “This is the class where I was like ‘there is absolutely a specific reason for doing everything you do,’ and it felt really good to be pushed and tested and all of those ways.”
The grants awarded to the nonprofits will help them in numerous ways.
The Blue Ridge Area Food Bank, for example, will utilize their grant of $8,000 to improve their mobile food pantry, which travels out to rural areas without supermarkets and nearby access to food insecurity services, Chiu said.
McElhone said the $8,000 grant to Great Expectations will probably be used for providing emergency relief and paying for items such as clothes, food, shampoo and soap.
The Charlottesville Free Clinic received a $11,500 grant and The Haven received a $10,000 grant.
“[This class] made me reevaluate my commitment to nonprofits and philanthropy, especially foster care,” McElhone said. “Foster care has never been on my radar and wouldn’t have been, but now it is.”