Students in the Valparaiso University class “Traditions of Giving and Serving in American Life” witnessed the fruits of their labors as they awarded $10,000 in grant money to support the efforts of area social service agencies and philanthropic organizations on Monday, May 2.

The class, taught by Martin Buinicki, associate professor of English, examines philanthropy as discussed in various works of American literature and offers students a first-hand giving experience by providing them with the opportunity to distribute grants locally.

The $10,000 comes from Doris Buffett’s Sunshine Lady Foundation’s Learning by Giving Program. Valpo is one of 16 schools in the country to receive a grant from the program, which aims to get college students thinking about philanthropy and the larger needs in society that can be addressed by their gifts.

After lengthy and careful analysis and debate, the students decided to award grants to the following organizations and projects:

-$1,740 to HealthLinc, to support patient education in the waiting room of its clinic through the installation of a flat-panel TV and the purchase of educational media.

-$3, 260 to Family House Inc., to support its summer activities and outdoor play area project (including the purchase of play equipment, shed, and lawnmower) and establish a children’s lending library

-$5,000 to the Boys and Girls Club of Porter County to support the renovation of the gymnasium at the Valparaiso Boys and Girls Club.

Students spoke with leaders of local non-profit agencies to gain insight into the allocation process while learning more about the subject of philanthropy

“We read works that explore the varied ways that American writers and thinkers have considered and portrayed notions of charity and public service,” said Buinicki. “We also reflected upon our own experiences and ideas and considered how they reflect or diverge from broader cultural trends, and spoke with regional experts about the challenges facing our communities, the process of allocating limited resources to meet pressing needs, and the experience of leading a charitable organization in a competitive and difficult economic climate.”

This is the second year that Valparaiso University has had the grant, with $20,000 in funding awarded to six local nonprofit agencies in total.

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