The Philanthropy Initiative - Course Syllabus
Spring 2017 - A Block
Christine Godinez and Lisa Wu
Contact info: firstname.lastname@example.org; 415.333.4021, ext. 217
email@example.com; 415.333.4021, ext. 208
Office hours: By appointment only during Tutorial. Please email in advance to schedule.
This is a course about giving and prompts students to broadly define and consider giving and philanthropy through a multitude of perspectives and experiences. The course is focused on two essential questions:
What does it mean to give responsibly?
The Philanthropy Initiative is a unique high school course. Students in the course are expected to grapple with questions about social justice, equity, and ethics as it pertains to giving. An exploration of these topics will prepare students to think critically and ask thoughtful and thorough questions about why they should give and what does giving responsibly mean.
Students will also explore what it means to be civically engaged through the lens of philanthropy and service learning through various opportunities. Through the ‘Philanthropy Speaker Series (PSS),’ the class will hear from experienced professionals from for-profit and nonprofit organizations to better understand the variety of ways corporations, foundations, and individuals approach philanthropy. Furthermore, the PSS will inform and help students develop “best practices” on giving effectively. Students will directly engage in service learning projects to share their talents, strengths, and resources with the community. Lastly, the culminating project for the class is to select a philanthropic cause to grant $20,000. Students will lead a thorough and responsible selection process to determine how the funds are granted. Throughout the course, students will acquire knowledge, skills, and competency to aid their decision-making process.
Students in The Philanthropy Initiative will work as a cohort throughout the semester, rather than a class of individuals. A significant portion of the class will involve hands-on, student-centered learning with the goal of thinking critically and acting responsibly when it comes to giving.
This class has a lot of moving parts. Thus, the syllabus is open to revision based on speaker schedules, service learning site visits, and the needs and interests of students in the class. However, the following schedule will provide a general trajectory of the semester.
Students will be introduced to the basic expectations of the course and begin to explore “giving” from a historical and ethical perspective. Through films, readings, class discussions, and the ‘Philanthropy Speaker Series’, students will explore the following questions:
Why do people give?
How has giving and philanthropy been approached over time?
What does it mean to be civically engaged? What is the difference between philanthropy and service learning?
Students will begin their service learning experiences with organizations in the proximity where LWHS is located, the OMI district. All students are required to participate in a service project that will take place during A block, lunch prior or after A block, and after school (when necessary). Students will also be asked to participate in grant writing and fundraising for their service organization while reflecting on the following question:
What does it mean to you to give your time and talent?
In the second half of this course, students will reflect on their on-going service learning experiences and growing expertise about giving. Students will work collaboratively in teams to investigate a particular community concern, participate in a comprehensive grant ‘Request for Proposal (RFP)’ process, make a recommendation to invest the $20,000 gift, and design a method to evaluate the outcomes of the investment. Students will consider the following key questions:
What criteria will we use to assess and decide what organization we give the $20,000 grant to?
What should the process look like for making a decision about what organization receives the grant?
How will we track how the funds are used?
During the last section of the course, students will reflect on their array of experiences in both direct service and in the grantmaking process. Students will give the $20,000 grant to the organization of choice and prepare for a school-wide presentation chronicling and reflecting on their course experience. Students will also have the opportunity to visit Stanford’s Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society as a class.
This class will use a variety of sources from relevant texts, film, featured speakers, and current publications. Students are expected to keep all course materials in a binder and take notes to use as references throughout the semester. A sample list of texts to be used include:
- Four Traditions of Philanthropy in Giving Well, Doing Good: Readings for Thoughtful Philanthropist, edited by Amy Kass.
- The Most Good You Can Do, Peter Singer
- Give Smart: Philanthropy That Gets Results, Thomas Tierney and Joel Fleishman
- Gospel of Wealth, Andrew Carnegie
- The Art of Giving: Where the Soul Meets a Business Plan, Charles Bronfman and Jeffrey Solomon
Grading and Course Assessment
Consistent and active participation is a key component of this course. Students will be graded primarily on their engagement with the material, course essential questions, and service learning experiences. A grading breakdown is provided:
Participation In Class (30%)
Components of participation will include attendance, timeliness, preparation, verbal engagement, active listening, and following the class norms.
Students are expected to fully-engage in the decision-making process to select and award the grant of $20,000. This is a significant objective of the course and will require full participation, such as thoughtful preparation, meeting deadlines, and working collaboratively with peers.
Service-Learning (20%) and Group Presentation (20%)
Throughout the course, service-learning will stand in the place of formal homework time. Students will select and participate in a service project spanning 4 to 6 weeks.
In addition, students will be tasked to develop a class presentation about their service learning project, bringing to light each organization’s mission, revenue/funding structure, strengths, and challenges in sustaining its organizational objectives. Research and interviews with key personnel will be instrumental in furthering understanding of each organization purpose.
Students will be tasked to keep an ongoing blog to reflect on their service experiences, guest speakers, and in-class discussions and activities. Class time will be dedicated to contributing to the blog. Students will contribute to the blog to chronicle their experiences and engage in meaningful dialogue about course topics.
Parting Words About a Co-Taught Class
There are two teachers for this course, Ms. Godinez and Ms. Wu. The curriculum is designed to be taught and led collaboratively. Both teachers will conduct all student assessments and evaluations. Students are encouraged to approach either of us with any questions or concerns.