Student Philanthropists Award $10,000 to Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Capital Region

Big Brothers Big Sisters

ALBANY, N.Y. — With the largest pool of funds yet, Assistant Professor Susan Appe’s undergraduate students in the Private Philanthropy, Public Problems, and Power course awarded $10,000 to Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Capital Region at the conclusion of the Fall 2020 semester.

Partnering with the Learning by Giving Foundation, Rockefeller College’s Student Philanthropy Fund received a $10,000 grant to distribute within the Capital Region community. Learning by Giving’s mission is to inspire and educate a new generation of philanthropists and community leaders to effectively distribute capital to local communities.

During the fall semester, Dr. Appe’s undergraduate students divided into groups and meticulously researched six selected local nonprofits. The students met with the organizations virtually, compiled a report, and presented their findings to the rest of the class. As a group, the student philanthropists voted on the most deserving organization based on a criteria selected collectively by the group at the start of the semester.

The students mutually agreed that assisting organizations with a mission that clearly works to tackle social and racial inequities was a priority, while taking into account the major challenges 2020 and the COVID-19 pandemic created for the nonprofits and those they serve. Ultimately, the Fall 2020 Private Philanthropy, Public Problems, and Power students chose Big Brothers Big Sisters of the Capital Region as the recipient of the $10,000 award.

Established in the Capital Region in 1964, Big Brothers Big Sisters has created and supported one-to-one mentoring relationships that “ignite the power and promise of youth.” Its programs have helped children achieve confidence in their schoolwork and improve family relationships. According to the class’s research, 27% of children served are less likely to begin using alcohol, 46% are less likely to begin using illegal drugs, and 52% of children served are less likely to skip school. 

“Giving to Big Brothers and Big Sisters of the Capital Region — a local youth organization — means we are actively supporting youth in our community, creating opportunities for creative outlets that can change a child’s life, and inspiring them to strive for greatness,” said student philanthropist Michelle Ortiz. “Big Brothers and Big Sisters highlights the need for diversity and equity. They pride themselves on embedding such guidelines in every part of their processes, meaning they are aware of and cater to the needs of children of color who are in low socioeconomic standing. Bigs ensure that their Littles know that there is someone on their side.”

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 $17,700 total to the following nonprofit organizations:

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

  • $1000 Youth FX in Albany, N.Y. 
  • $500 The MoonCatcher Project in Schenectady, N.Y.