Casey McGee '16 volunteered with Cogswell Hall as part of a 2014 Baldwin Wallace Jacket Philanthropy course.

The Jacket Philanthropy Program continues to grow its impact in the community and in the lives of student grant-makers.

Student "Jacket Philanthropists" cross $100,000 threshold in community grants

June 9, 2017

Kasey McGee '16 volunteered with Cogswell Hall as part of a 2014 Baldwin Wallace Jacket Philanthropy course.

When students in the 2017 Jacket Philanthropy Program (JPP) awarded $20,000 in competitive grants to Northeast Ohio community nonprofit organizations this spring, they marked a milestone. Now in its eighth year, JPP crossed the $100,000 mark in grant awards to more than 40 community partners.

But JPP’s effect on student participants is as impressive as the program’s community impact. In fact, JPP has grown to be so popular with students and faculty that versions of the course will be offered in both the fall and spring in the 2017-18 academic year.

To sustain that growth and celebrate the $100,000 milestone, BW is also launching a JPP giving initiative to fund an endowment.

Exploring Service and Philanthropy from Different Angles

JPP is an academic service-learning experience supported by the David & Frances Brain Center for Community Engagement. Four JPP courses offered during spring 2017 included Health and Social Justice (public health), Grant Proposal Writing (English), Urban Community Life (sociology) and Child Maltreatment (psychology).

During the course, students volunteer with a local nonprofit organization, prepare a grant proposal to seek funding for a project at their agency and engage in a group decision-making process to award available funds.

At a culminating ceremony, students reflect on their service experiences and learn which organizations receive funding. It’s not unusual to see students well up with emotion as they advocate for their nonprofit.

Honors Leadership in Philanthropy

Members of a Baldwin Wallace University honors class in philanthropy awards a grantStudents in a similar BW Honors Program course on "leadership in philanthropy" during the fall also came away with a fresh appreciation for the value of making a personal connection to a cause.

"I didn't consider my volunteer hours to be as valuable as a monetary donation before this class," said Olivia Held '17, a German and international studies major from Pittsburgh. "Now, I realize that the value isn't found in the amount of dollar signs, but in giving as much as you personally can at that particular time."

Learning from Generous Role Models

Emily Kerr '18, a psychology and public and nonprofit leadership double major from Lincolnwood, Illinois, aspires to work in the nonprofit world after graduation. She found many philanthropic role models through her BW philanthropy course. 

"We were able to meet with people who held board positions at the zoo, or were Baldwin Wallace trustees and that was their way of serving. We met Baldwin Wallace alums that said they lead very simple lives but saved in order to give generously to theater programs in Cleveland and to BW. We met a single mother who was a leader in so many different organizations that it was hard to keep track of."

Anticipating a greater impact

After awarding $3,000 in grants to two organizations as part of the honors course, Held envisions a future when she can have a bigger influence on causes that reflect her personal values. "Since I know what causes I am attracted to and what values I hold close to my heart, I will be able to choose how I make an impact, so that impact can be that much greater."

In a Greater Cleveland region that is known for supporting philanthropy in a big way, BW students continue to embrace opportunities, through JPP and the Honors Program, to experience first-hand the power of community generosity.


JPP grant funding is made possible through the generous support of Zilber Family Foundation, a supporting foundation of the Jewish Federation of Cleveland; The George W. Codrington Charitable Foundation; Harry K. and Emma R. Fox Charitable Foundation; and BW’s David & Frances Brain Center for Community Engagement.