Whitworth Communications

For Immediate Release

December 13, 2007

Whitworth One of Five Institutions Nationwide Selected for Student-Run Philanthropy Program

University establishes pilot project, "Engaging Community, Inspiring Philanthropy," serving Spokane's West Central neighborhood

Whitworth University, one of five institutions nationwide selected to oversee $15,000 donor advised funds, will develop a student-run philanthropy project aimed at recommending grants to nonprofit organizations serving Spokane's West Central neighborhood, one of the poorest areas in Washington state. The donor advised fund is part of a pilot program, "Students4Giving," administered by the Fidelity® Charitable Gift FundSM ("Gift Fund") and Campus Compact. Students4Giving seeks to advance philanthropic education efforts at colleges and universities across the country, and to encourage community-based learning and partnership with local nonprofit organizations.

"This is a great honor and an important opportunity," says Whitworth President Bill Robinson.  "As a Christian institution, we need to help our students develop a 'first fruits' mentality. Giving should be our first expenditure, not what we do with what's left over. If we claim to be Christ-centered, then philanthropy should be at the center of our personal budgets. This program will immerse students in the joy and the impact of giving."

Thirty-five universities and colleges nationwide submitted proposals and competed for the five winning slots; in addition to Whitworth, the selected participants are Boston University, California State University at Fresno, Portland Community College, in Portland, Ore., and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Fidelity® will seed the individual Gift Fund Giving Accounts,®1 which will be overseen by the students participating in their respective schools' 2008 winter/spring nonprofit and philanthropy courses.

"It is our hope that the Students4Giving program will help build upon the resources and academic infrastructure available to today's students," says David Giunta, president of the Fidelity Charitable Gift Fund. "By doing so, the program will help provide students with the knowledge and inspiration to become the next generation of philanthropic leaders working collectively to help address some of the critical social issues facing our communities today."

Campus Compact teamed with the Gift Fund to develop the Students4Giving program as part of its work to educate students for social responsibility. Campus Compact is a national coalition of college and university presidents who are committed to the civic purposes of higher education. Whitworth is one of the organization's 1,100 member campuses

Campus Compact President Maureen F. Curley notes, "Our review panel of foundation and philanthropic leaders faced a difficult choice in selecting five winners from the very strong pool of applicants. Whitworth's proposal was exceptional for its integration of philanthropy, student leadership, and community engagement in a way that leverages existing structures to create new approaches that will have a lasting impact."

According to Rhosetta Rhodes, a 1999 Whitworth alumna who co-developed the Whitworth Students4Giving proposal as director of the Center for Service-Learning and Community Engagement at Whitworth, the typical way to learn about the mechanism of philanthropy is through on-the-job experience.

"Participation in the Students4Giving program will give Whitworth students a rare opportunity to learn about philanthropic giving before entering the job market," Rhodes says. "Through Whitworth's service-learning program our students are already learning about and serving community needs, but we also want to encourage a culture of philanthropic giving."

Following are highlights of Whitworth's pilot project "Engaging Community, Inspiring Philanthropy":

  • The university will administer the pilot project through its existing Bonner Leaders Program. Funded by the Bonner Foundation, Bonner Leaders is a service-based leadership-development program that facilitates and increases civic engagement among students. There are currently 19 Whitworth students participating in Bonner Leaders.

  • To develop and implement the student-run philanthropy project, Bonner Leaders students will participate in a new Jan Term 2008 course, Introduction to Community Engagement, which will continue through the spring semester and will be linked with an Organizational Communication course offered through the Whitworth Communication Studies Department.

  • The Bonner Leaders and other students taking part in the Jan Term course will establish a philanthropic advisory committee to recommend organizations to receive grants from the Gift Fund based on the needs assessment in Spokane's West Central neighborhood.  Students will develop funding criteria and a request-for-proposal (RFP) process, and will send RFPs to community organizations the students have identified as non-profits operating in the area of need.
  • During the spring semester, students will evaluate grant applications and select up to 10 finalists for grant recommendations. The Organizational Communications class will conduct audits of the finalists and will make funding recommendations to the Gift Fund and the Bonner Leaders. They will review the recommendations and select the organizations which will be recommended for funding through the Gift Fund grants.

  • To sustain the project long-term, students will recommend grants for approximately 75 percent of the allocated Giving Account balance and the remaining balance in the Giving Account will be maintained for grant recommendations during toward next year's course. Students will also develop a fundraising and investment-management plan, and will consider fundraising tools such as outside grants, donor giving and special-event fundraising with the goal of restoring or building on the original $15,000 allocated to establish the donor advised fund.

  • In support of sustaining the project, Whitworth is planning to develop a new course on philanthropy and fundraising, to be housed in the communication-studies department. Students taking the course will serve as the board of directors of the philanthropic team. They will be responsible for continuing the annual RFP process, investment management, and fundraising. 

"My hope is that through this project, students become more deeply engaged in the community, gain an understanding of the community's critical issues, draw attention to those issues, and raise funds to help address them," Rhodes says. "I want to see the ripple effect of philanthropy expand so far that everywhere these students go after they graduate, we'll see the results of their experience at Whitworth." 

Located in Spokane, Wash., Whitworth is a private, liberal arts university affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (USA). The university, which has an enrollment of 2,600 students, offers 53 undergraduate and graduate degree programs.

1 The Giving Account is the Gift Fund's donor advised fund.


Rhosetta Rhodes, director of the Center for Service-Learning and Community Engagement, Whitworth University, (509) 777-4238 or rrhodes99@whitworth.edu.

Karen Partridge, Campus Compact, (401) 867-3922 or kpartridge@compact.org; or Fidelity Corporate Communications, (617) 563-5800.

Julie Riddle, public information officer, Whitworth University, (509) 777-3729 or jriddle@whitworth.edu.

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