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Students grant $13,750 to local nonprofits

April 26, 2010

KALAMAZOO--Music education for public schools, breast pumps for mothers with vulnerable babies and leadership development programs for youth struggling with mental illness were some of the local programs that received a boost recently from a Western Michigan University nonprofit leadership class.

Students granted a total of $13,750 to five Kalamazoo nonprofit organizations through the American Humanics program at WMU. Funding for the awards came from a Campus Compact and Fidelity Charitable Gift Fund program called Students4Giving.

Grant recipients

  • Advocacy Services for Kids, $4,200 for its leadership program for youth struggling with mental health issues.
  • Kalamazoo Book Arts Center, $2,100 for its summer program where youth write poetry and make a book from scratch.
  • Kalamazoo County Michigan State University Extension, $3,000 for breast pumps for mothers whose babies are vulnerable.
  • Kalamazoo Symphony Orchestra, $3,450 for its music education program "Music! Access for All" held in public schools in rural communities with less access to musical offerings.
  • Michigan Organizing Project, $1,000 to organize for a vote on the City of Kalamazoo’s homelessness fund.

"This is a remarkable project of WMU and the nonprofit program. The student who visited us was very bright and asked hard questions," says Jane Rooks Ross, KSO director of development. "The students said that they found out how difficult it is to make these decisions, tears were involved, and they learned a great deal about how to develop projects and write grants."

WMU is one of just a handful of institutions nationwide selected to participate in the Students4Giving program that promotes philanthropic education by allowing students to grant money to local charities. This is the second year WMU students have been part of the program and able to make grants to area organization.

During the past eight years, the WMU Nonprofit Leadership Program, part of the School of Public Affairs and Administration, has graduated and certified 90 nonprofit leaders, given $48,000 to local nonprofits, served 25,500 hours as interns in local and regional nonprofits, done 10,800 hours of service learning associated with classes, and educated 16 local nonprofit professionals.

Prior to awarding the grants, students researched local issues and, based on that research, determined that the grants would go to agencies working toward the following outcomes:

  • Strengthening families through parent education programs or adequate prenatal care.
  • Developing youth through after school programming with an emphasis on skill building and/or mentoring programs.
  • Alleviating and preventing homelessness through advocacy that works to change the current systemic policies that perpetuate homelessness.
  • Saving capacity for existing arts or cultural programming jeopardized by a recent funding shortfall attributable to the current economic downturn.

Students sent out requests for proposals, and 27 agencies responded asking for more than $126,000. Students reviewed responses, conducted site visits, interviewed finalists and spent more than seven hours coming to consensus on which programs to fund. The grants were awarded on April 15 in Kalamazoo to an audience of more than 100 students and nonprofit professionals.

For more information, contact Janice Maatman, WMU's director of nonprofit education programs in the School of Public Affairs and Administration, at janice.maatman@wmich.edu or (269) 387-8945.

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Media contact: Deanne Puca, (269) 387-8400, deanne.puca@wmich.edu

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