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Online philanthropy course eases access to grant funds

RELATED:Learning by Giving Foundation



“Why don’t you spend a couple of weeks this summer giving Doris Buffett’s money away to your community,” said Alex Buffett Rozek, Buffett’s grandson and president of her LearningbyGivingFoundation.

A Massive Online Open Course (MOOC) called GivingWithPurpose created by the foundation and starting in June will make providing funding for nonprofits a reality for anyone who chooses to participate.

The course is free and offered everyone in the U.S. as an opportunity to make real grants using the foundation’s money. Pre-registration is now open on LearningbyGivingFoundation’s website.

Rozek wanted to begin the course to distribute the foundation’s funds to as many localities as possible. After learning about online courses offered by colleges such as Stanford and Harvard he wanted to include the philanthropy courses already provided at universities by the foundation in the online-learning movement.

Currently the Learning by Giving Foundation has 30 classes at universities across the county dedicated to philanthropy, including one at the University of Mary Washington.

This online course opens these classes up to an unlimited number of students.

The course is composed of six classes and takes three to four weeks to complete.

The classes provide tools and strategies to help course participants invest their charitable dollars effectively. Accompanying lessons are interviews with guest speakers including Warren Buffett, Doris Buffett, Cal Ripken Jr., Soledad O’Brien, Ben Cohen and Jerry Greenfield.

The course is authored and taught exclusively for the LearningbyGivingFoundation by Rebecca Riccio, the program director of the Northeastern University philanthropy program.

GivingWithPurpose was developed on CourseBuilder, an open-source project led by Google.

Course Builder was put in motion as Google’s contribution to the area of open education so that others may build MOOCs.

After completion, students are given a certificate and create grant proposals.

Those proposals are then ranked by other students in order of need and then considered by the foundation.

Rozek said people can take the class individually or as teams. Teams of 25 to 100 students will receive dedicated group funding for their grant separate from the other grant funding pool.

Rozek said that many nonprofit organizations do not have the money to funnel into researching grants.

“They can get grants using these students for free,” he said. “The class is a way to give students the resources they need and then give them the money.”

He said that learning about philanthropy is important since students will be able to thoughtfully break down a grant.

“Personally, I think there are a host of needs that every community has that are less funded by government but need funding,” he said. “The funding has to come from donations and grants like these to support important resources in a community.”

Lindley Estes: 540/735-1976

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