Spring ’21 Philanthropy Students Award Nearly $5,000 To Nonprofits

The Connect Center
Rockefeller MPA students at The Connect Center in Cohoes.

ALBANY, N.Y. — Professor Susan Appe’s Spring 2021 Philanthropy and Civil Society graduate students researched, debated, and ultimately, selected and awarded $1,665 each to three deserving nonprofit organizations: The MoonCatcher Project, Homeless and Travelers Aid Society (HATAS), and The Connect Center

Throughout the semester, the PAD 527 class studied the missions, projects, and impacts of a group of local nonprofit organizations that met the Student Philanthropy Fund’s criteria. The students divided into groups and presented details about the nonprofits to their classmates in preparation for a deciding debate. During the final deliberations, The MoonCatcher Project was the global giving recipient, becoming the Fund’s first repeat winner, while HATAS and The Connect Center both received 50 percent of the vote for the local giving award. In the end, the class chose to have two local winners and awarded the deserving organizations equal funds. 

The MoonCatcher Project 

Headquartered in Schenectady, N.Y., The MoonCatcher Project works to curb menstrual poverty internationally, especially in Kenya, Uganda, Malawi and India. For millions of women and girls in the global South, limited access to menstrual hygiene products hinders them from living a life of dignity. As a result, many are forced to drop out of school or are forced into early marriages. Through its international partners, The MoonCatcher Project provides reusable menstrual kits for girls so that they do not have to miss school and do not risk using unsafe and unhygienic options during their menstruation cycles.  

When evaluating The MoonCatcher Project, the students commended it for its inclusivity and commitment to gender and human rights. By making and providing free reusable menstruation pad kits, it offers a way for girls in some of the world’s poorest communities to stay in school during their cycles. The MoonCatcher Project has also economically empowered women by providing employment through its community sewing collectives, which was paramount during COVID-19 when the community sewing collectives produced face masks for local first responders and healthcare organizations.

Homeless and Travelers Aid Society (HATAS) 

Housed in Albany, HATAS has been working to end homelessness since 1927. Its mission is, “To provide immediate relief and long-term solutions for the most vulnerable members of our community by preventing, combating, and reducing homelessness within the Capital Region.” HATAS provides a variety of services to the homeless and other struggling groups, including the Feed and Read Program that provides hundreds of children with food packs; Code Blue Albany, which helps place homeless individuals and families in emergency shelters during the cold winter months; and the HATAS Furniture Bank, which provides newly housed individuals with furniture. 

The Connect Center

The Connect Center is a youth-oriented community center located in Cohoes, N.Y. Its mission is to break the cycle of poverty by connecting youth to their full potential via the use of holistic programming and community connection. The philanthropy class chose the Connect Center as one of its awardees because of its deep connection with its community, its commitment to mutual aid initiatives, and its unique approach to holistic programming for the larger Cohoes community.

About the Student Philanthropy Fund

The Student Philanthropy Fund is housed at the Institute of Nonprofit Leadership and Community Development (INLCD) at Rockefeller College and is part of the INLCD’s goals to advance student learning. It allows students to distribute funds to nonprofit organizations as part of coursework in which they learn about philanthropy and the essential role nonprofit organizations play in building vibrant communities. The mission of the Student Philanthropy Fund is: (1) to contribute to students' preparation for engaged citizenship and preparation as public service professionals, (2) to develop philanthropists with integrity who will work in communities and continue to benefit our world, and (3) to build relationships with and fund nonprofits across our communities. So far, Rockefeller classes have given $22,695 total to the following nonprofit organizations:

Spring 2021

  • $1,665 to The MoonCatcher Project in Schenectady, N.Y.
  • $1,665 to The Connect Center in Cohoes, N.Y.
  • $1,665 to Homeless and Travelers Aid Society in Albany, N.Y. 

Fall 2020

  • $10,000 to Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Capital Region in Albany, N.Y.
  • $100 to The Regional Food Bank of Northeastern New York in Latham, N.Y.
  • $100 to BronxWorks in New York, N.Y.

Spring 2020

  • $2,000 to Capital Region Community COVID-19 Response Fund in Albany, N.Y.
  • $500 to Albany Damien Center in Albany, N.Y.
  • $500 to Jajja's Kids in Latham, N.Y.

Fall 2019

  • $3,000 to Commission on Economic Opportunities in Troy, N.Y.

Spring 2019

  • $1,000 to Youth FX in Albany, N.Y. 
  • $500 to The MoonCatcher Project in Schenectady, N.Y.

The Fund is supported by Rockefeller alumni, private individuals and the Learning by Giving Foundation. Nonprofits interested in being considered for future funds should contact Susan Appe, PhD ([email protected]) for more information.