Georgetown University Graduate Class Awards $23,000 to Local Nonprofits

Posted in News Story

By Sade Cole (MPP 2024)

On April 23, 2024, seven graduate students at the McCourt School of Public Policy stepped into the roles of Foundation Board Trustees and awarded $23,000 to D.C-based nonprofits working to advance racial, economic, and social justice in Dr. Kathy Kretman’s Philanthropy, Power, and Politics course. Over the semester, students examined their values and tested their assumptions about the responsibilities that come with wealth and power in the United States. The class underwent the process of studying both foundations and nonprofits to understand ways in which philanthropists can impact systemic change, particularly through a racial equity lens. Working together as a foundation, the students developed their own mission, values, and selection criteria in order to experience the power and responsibility of being grantmakers. 

The students awarded the $23,000 to the following community-based nonprofit organizations: 

During their grantmaking, the students prioritized nonprofits that advance equity, particularly for underserved communities in D.C. “My Foundation experience reinforced the idea that the silent heroes in our communities are typically the grassroots nonprofits that are doing on-the-ground work and are led by leaders who are truly invested and trusted by the community,” said Adilio Alfaro, a first year Masters of Public Policy student. “The Philanthropy, Power and Politics class is valuable and proof that we need to invest in our nonprofits and its leaders. While that sounds obvious, we’re in a moment of tremendous public doubt, but Philanthropy has the power to lead the future by intentionally investing in its people and organizations.” 

“It was amazing to work alongside students who really listened, asked meaningful questions, and even attended some programming events. You don’t always get that level of engagement from funders, so it was lovely to know they truly wanted to get to know our work.” shared Lori Pitts, founder and executive director of Voices Unbarred. “We are so honored to have received an award from this class, and will use it to help revitalize our flagship programming after the COVID-19 pandemic made in-person programming in prisons impossible. Our Inner Voices program works with people who are currently incarcerated to share their stories, explore related social justice issues, and generate solutions through theater”. 

“[This course] significantly shaped my understanding of philanthropy’s complexities and its potential for transformative impact,” shared Joseph Fasl, a Masters of Policy Management student. “I am committed to applying these insights in the future, recognizing the importance of prioritizing and supporting marginalized communities in my philanthropic endeavors. This transformation is a testament to the power of [the] class.” 

Professor Kretman concluded, “I’ve said it before, and I will say it again, this class is one of the best teaching experiences of my career. To be able to give students the opportunity to explore their own values, test their own assumptions, and learn to make tough decisions in a group process, all during an unprecedented, uncertain time in your lives – it’s humbling, to say the least.”

To read more about the Philanthropy, Power, and Politics course and past nonprofit recipients, click here.