Students for Community, also known as S for C, set out to raise finances for local non-profits as a project and as a part of course work at BGSU.

S for C’s final decision was to give $1,000 to Welcome BG and $300 to Falcon Food Pantry.

Dr. Abishek Bhati wanted to set up a theoretical project that would eventually play out later in the semester and seek to give to nonprofits around the Bowling Green community.

The class laid the foundation for students to see how the process of nonprofit work functioned, which gave students the ability to understand the process while making connections in the community. The process started with a framework from Bhati, which he then allowed students to execute the process while he stepped in when necessary.

“The objective of the class was to have experiential grant-giving. Often, there has been a lot of criticism in grant-writing, especially grant-giving where there’s bias towards minorities and towards certain causes. … The goal overall was to have more experience of raising money and giving money, and then the attachment biases and all kinds of emotions that come with it,” Bhati said.

Bhati said the class was broken into three components:

  • Raising the financial means through letter writing and utilizing certain resources to share the news.

  • Writing a request for the proposal which organizations could apply for a grant.

  • Creating a rubric to decide which nonprofits would get the grant money.

“I felt (the project) would really match the mission of the university very solidly because we are about public good,” he said.

Lauren Deneger, a recent BGSU graduate who took the class said she and her peers began the process by laying out their ideas on how to start fundraising.

“We compiled all of our ideas, voted and we ended up settling on sending out letters to potential donors and going to downtown businesses. … We started talking about what we wanted to look for as far as grants, what organizations we thought fit into our goals for the project and developing and figuring out where to go from there,” she said.

Not only did the students and Bhati send letters to their potential donors, they created a flier to share across campus and in the community which potential nonprofits could possibly apply for the grant.

They left an encouraging note for the sponsors, which stated, “you are playing a key role in making Bowling Green a better, safer, and more inclusive place in which to work, live, and experience life as we know it.”

Connor Prusha, who also took the class, saw that he and his peers had little disagreement on the focus for the project.

They wanted to focus on inclusivity in the project and assure they were striving for it collectively. Even when the project was hard during the semester, Prusha saw that each individual and Bhati wanted to collaborate for a greater effort and for a greater result in the community.

Prusha and Deneger were both personally impacted by the project. Prusha said it grew his passion for nonprofit work and helped equip him for actual nonprofit work in the future.

“I think it has revitalized my want to pursue a career in the nonprofit sector. As an MPA student, nonprofits are a huge part of that, especially as you’re looking at the relationship between governments and citizens, and how we can play that intermediate role to deliver services. That has me very excited,” he said.

Deneger said this project was distinctive because she was able to apply both her focus area and learnt skills to the project.

Deneger wants to eventually work for a nonprofit and is attending graduate school to further prepare herself for the career path.

Deneger said Bhati was vital to the success of the project. She said Bhati emailed the class when donations came in and she could tell how excited and passionate he was about the cause.

The group was able to connect with over 12 nonprofits, which each applied for the grant: BG Arts Council, BGo Pride, Brown Bag, Black Swamp Arts Festival, The Cocoon, Falcon Food Pantry, La Conexion, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, Sleek Academy, Welcome BG and the Wood County Museum.

Each student individually chose what their top organizations were, then the class collectively voted on the top nonprofits from the first vote.

Their final discussion allowed the class to determine the terms of what the chosen nonprofits may use their profits for, as well as how they can use the funds for future projects and establish future partnerships with community nonprofits.

As students who took the course move on, Bhati hopes students will continue to help build and grow nonprofit work in the area.

“What I hope to do is to make this an annual thing — to write, raise money, share and give the money to organizations here. There has been a lot of research about how if you have a philanthropy community, actually a growth of philanthropy happens.” he said, “ I’m hoping that this has a small effect, but cascading effect to the number of nonprofit space in this landscape.”

Check out the S for C page for more information about the course and the work.

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