Community partner nominates Jacket Philanthropy Program for outstanding award

The Jacket Philanthropy Program (JPP), an academic service-learning program offered at Baldwin Wallace that directs service to nonprofit organizations with the opportunity to award grant funds to selected organizations, received a surprise last summer.

Director of the Center for Community Engagement, Christy Walkuski, got a phone call from the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) where they told her that the JPP won an award for Outstanding Youth in Philanthropy.

The catch—JPP did not nominate themselves for the award. Instead, a community partner, Eliza Bryant Village, a nonprofit organization that provides quality services, outreach programs and a dignified, compassionate and secure living environment for seniors, nominated BW’s JPP for the award. Walkuski immediately called Annie Heidersbach, director of Academic Grants, to share the news.

“We were squealing,” said Heidersbach. “We’re so passionate because it makes a difference in the community, and it’s such a real experience for students.”

Walkuski said BW’s JPP and Eliza Bryant Village had shared a personal relationship in the past that contributed to receiving the award.

“It’s nice for [Eliza Bryant Village] to think highly enough of us in our program,” said Walkuski. “Our students have worked there in a number of different ways. We’ve had public health students that have worked their sociology students that have worked there, and then we had a graduate class from our speech communications program that worked there last summer.”

The Outstanding Youth in Philanthropy award presented by AFP was one of six given at the National Philanthropy Day, specifically directed towards the role children and young adults play in their community, said Walkuski.

“[The award was] recognizing programs or organizations that are empowering students or young people to think about their role with philanthropy, and giving them the opportunity be engaged in philanthropy,” said Walkuski. “[It was] recognizing the opportunity that the program presents to students to be able to learn about philanthropy, to learn about the process of grant writing, and also recognizing the funding that is being awarded out to partners.”

Walkuski said the award would not have happened without all conglomerates involved.

“It’s a testament to the value of partnership because this program doesn’t happen in isolation, it doesn’t happen without students, it doesn’t happen without our partners, it doesn’t happen without our faculty. It is a true collaboration to make all these things happen,” said Walkuski.

Though many parties make up the success for the JPP, Walkuski said that the backbone to the program comes from the work done by Baldwin Wallace students.

“We know that service-learning deepens learning. We know that by getting out of the classroom, being out in the community, having a chance to see what you’re learning and kind of putting it into action. It just makes learning happen on a deeper level.”

Since the JPP began 11 years ago, Heidersbach said the JPP has “awarded $185,000 in grant funding to northeast Ohio organizations.”

“Cleveland is so rich in not only philanthropy but nonprofit agencies that just want to help people,” said Heidersbach. “We’re introducing students to philanthropy, and the possibility of it as a career.”