UCI Students Award 70,000 in Funding to Eight Local Nonprofits Through New Experiential Philanthropy Course

What is an experiential philanthropy course? It is a course that allows students to learn about the giving process and its effects on institutions and society, while also practically allocating real money to nonprofit organizations.

Under the guidance of Gillian Hayes, Kleist Professor in Informatics and the Faculty Director for the cross-disciplinary minor in civic and community engagement, students study local, national and global communities, addressing needs through philanthropic gifts to organizations that need support. During the 10-week course, students worked through a research-based, decision-making and selection process.

“UCI seeks to foster leadership and citizenship in our students,” says Vice Provost for Teaching and Learning and Dean of Undergraduate Education, Michael Dennin. “Students who have completed an experiential philanthropy course report they are likely to give more and to give more thoughtfully than they would have prior to the course.”

The class would not have happened were it not for a foundation, The Philanthropy Lab, that contacted Dean Dennin to start discussions about gifting $50,000 in seed money to get this program started.

“The long-term goal for this course is to partner with local donors interested in making this program sustainable,” commented Professor Hayes. “This class is well positioned to be a cornerstone of UCI’s minor in civic and community engagement.”

The primary goals of The Philanthropy Lab are to:

  • Spark and expand students’ interest and participation in philanthropy
  • Increase the prevalence and priority of philanthropy education in U.S. colleges and universities
  • Become self-sustaining at their partner schools, allowing the Philanthropy Lab to have the funds to expand the program to other universities

The Philanthropy Lab engages college students in philanthropy by giving them the tangible responsibility of directing real money to nonprofit organizations in the context of full-credit undergraduate courses. The belief is based on the importance that higher education helps shape not only well-educated leaders, but also responsible citizens.

The Philanthropy Lab’s collaboration with UCI has helped more students consider what it means to give their money, time, and skills with careful consideration. In fact, one notable result of the class can be seen by the fact that 70 percent of students were inspired to make Giving Goals. A Giving Goal is an exercise to reflect on and document one’s philanthropic intent in the context of what they are learning in the course.

The class, US10: Introduction to Civic and Community Engagement boasted:

  • 20 different majors
  • Students were from all class years
  • More than half of the students are first generation

The students did research on over 100 carefully vetted nonprofit organizations based in Orange or Los Angeles counties. They made site visits, interviewed the organization leaders, and had to create compelling arguments to pitch other classmates on who would receive the funds to be allocated.

The final amount of funds given totaled $70,000 The final list and gift amounts are as follows:

These organizations were recognized at Engage UCI, a celebration event that brings together the UCI community and community partners. The event included a community reception and an award ceremony.

“The money we received from the Civic and Community Engagement Class will go directly to housing homeless families in emergency needs. Thank you so much, this was such a wonderful experience.” – Illumination Foundation

Two students from the class have chosen to participate in the Ambassadors Conference this summer, where they will be part of 36 students, representing 18 leading universities, who will gather in Dallas, TX, to allocate $150,000 to nonprofit organizations.

Interested in helping to support this new program?

The Philanthropy Lab has committed to donate up to $25,000 in matching funds for new donations received by June 30, 2017.

By making a gift to UCI on behalf of the course you will support UCI students in exploring community needs and evaluating how best to address them.  The UC Irvine Foundation is a nonprofit 501(c)(3) corporation. Your gift qualifies for tax-deduction in accordance with IRS regulations.


Giving to this program is simple. Donations can be made online via http://connect.uci.edu/Philanthropy-Course or by contacting Daniel Harper: ddharper@uci.edu – 714.369.7283