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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Finalists for Sillerman Center philanthropy prize explain proposals

Published: April 9, 2010
Section: News

Two finalists for the Sillerman Center’s Prize for Innovation in Philanthropy presented their proposals for increasing and spreading philanthropy on college campuses Thursday at the Heller School.

The two groups, student organizations “Phront” and “Give!,” presented their ideas to a panel of judges who will award a prize of up to $8,000 to the student-led team or teams that offer effective ways of increasing philanthropy on college campuses, according to the Sillerman Center’s Web site.

“Our mission is to advance socially just philanthropy through education, research and development.” Claudia Jacobs, a Sillerman Center worker, said.

Presenting the proposal for Phront, Charlie Francis, a second-year Master’s in Public Policy student and Julian Olidort ’11, explained that a major component of their proposal is to organize a national leadership conference for college students. The goals of the conference would be to promote leadership, spreading the work across college campuses and networking.

“We feel that students who are doing this work are the best students to network with other students,” Francis said.

The proposal of the Give! Group, was presented by MBA students Elisabeth Wohers and Andrea Shea, first-year Heller Master’s student Masoud Jyia, and Vice President of the Brandeis National Committee Beth Wolfson ’75.

Wohers emphasized the need to “teach philanthropic values to students beginning with their freshman orientation and continuing throughout their education.”

Give!’s philosophy centers around the encouragement of freshman students to become involved with philanthropic work during the orientation. Once they are introduced to the concept as a freshman in their dorms, they will use the social relationships they from in their dorms as a way to work together on fundraising for various projects.

Both groups also mentioned the need to involve various student clubs, organizations and sports teams. After explaining their proposals in front of PowerPoint presentations, group members answered questions from the judges.

In a series of short skits to explain how their ideas would play out during freshman year of college, members of Give! acted as community advisers, students and orientation speakers.

Wolfson, acting as a leader of the orientation program said, “Together with your classmates you will learn that any donation can create change, no matter the size.”

Although Phront’s proposal has national level goals, it will start locally, by connecting with Boston area schools in the first year, aiming to get two schools to participate in the conference. In the second year, the group’s goal is add an additional three more schools to the leadership conference.

“We have a tested model that we’ve analyzed,” Olidort said.

Their proposal also included two Phront fellows who would be rising juniors who would help continue the work of the group in the future. Each fellow would receive a $3,500 stipend for his work.

The Phront proposal also addresses the need to involve high school students, as part of a cycle to influence people to give early on in their lives.

“As part of our trajectory of giving, we want to develop these values earlier in life,” Francis said.

Olidort also stressed the importance of the future, saying, “We plan to build this lifelong giving habit.”

Andrew Hahn, director of the Sillerman Center, said that though they differed, he was impressed by the proposals from both groups.

“We think college students can do a lot more with philanthropy and the need to be educated,” he said.

Francis said the he thinks students will be excited about philanthropy. “It gets at people’s passions,” he said in an interview with The Hoot. “No donation is too small.”