For most undergraduates, writing papers is strictly academic. For students in the Lead, Learn and Serve program, they get the chance to see their words make change in the community.
Students of the leadership program’s Composition II class drafted and aided nonprofit organizations in the grant reception process. The program addresses and gifts these grants through monies provided by the program annually.
In their first semester, under the instruction of Morgan Gresham, students of Lead, Learn and Serve’s Composition I class were asked to identify an issue within their community and seek organizations that combat these issues. Common topics included littering, childhood obesity, homelessness and aid to veterans. After selecting a topic, the service program invited organizations of Hillsborough and Pinellas counties to apply for grants. These grants act as sub-grants from the government, gifted to the Lead, Learn and Serve program to be used specifically for student philanthropy.
“Collaborative writing (for the students) was challenging. Students had to decide whose wording was better and work together,” said Composition II Professor Peggy Wise.
Writing the proposals proved to be a challenge for the students. Many referred to their experience as a real-world application of what they were learning. It also helped sharpen their skills, they said.
“The revision process was tedious. It helped us to learn close attention to detail. There was a sense of accomplishment since agencies got awarded,” said freshman Alex Jones.
For the selection process, the Student Philanthropy Board was formed to grade these organizations. Faculty members served on the board, which was then divided into groups based on various topics and issues for the selection process. The criteria included a grade of the organization, based on need and usage of funds if given the $5,000 grant. The organizations with the highest grades would then receive the grants.
Recipients of the grants included Clothes to Kids, the Florida Holocaust Museum, Frameworks of Tampa Bay and Keep Pinellas Beautiful.
“It’s worthwhile because it redefines philanthropy. Students feel like they can’t help or donate a wing. They learn that they could. They got to help and do something meaningful,” Wise said.
Students were pleased with their part aiding in their community.
“Philanthropy is not just a man dressed up like Mr. Monopoly but something tangible that you can really have,” said freshman Thomas Boyd.