Students “Pay It Forward” and award $9,000 to local non-profit agencies
This spring, Centre College students in sociology professor Sarah Goodrum’s “Microsociological Theory” course and in anthropology professor Andrea Abram’s “Community Based Anthropology” course have spent hundreds of hours giving back to the community.
The work has been facilitated by the aid of two Pay It Forward (PIF) grants of $4,500 each from Kentucky Compact. Pay It Forward grants aim to “strengthen communities through student-led philanthropy” and fund service projects that students identify as activities that will benefit their schools, neighborhoods or local communities.
To honor the local non-profit United Way-affiliated agencies with whom they’ve been working, the students will hold an award ceremony and luncheon on Tuesday, May 10. During the ceremony, the students will be awarding $9,000 in funds to the four agencies they selected: Centro Latino, Hope Clinic, Wilderness Trace Childcare Center and the Migrant Education Program.
Goodrum says that her class, which chose to allocate its Pay It Forward funds to Wilderness Trace and Migrant Education Program, used the following criteria in the award decisions: (1) the demonstration of need for the funds (for example, did the agency have few other sources for funding? Was the agency going to get money from Abrams’s class?), (2) the quality of the grant proposal (for example, a clear explanation of how funds would be used), and (3) the way the organization was meeting the needs of the community.
“The decision was a very difficult one,” Goodrum says, “because all 11 agencies requesting funds from our Pay It Forward grant had important and worthwhile projects. However, we felt the Wilderness Trace Childcare Center and Migrant Education Program most closely met our criteria. We also liked the idea that both agencies assisted children with their development and education in our community—strengthening these children’s opportunities for the future.”
As a component of the course, Goodrum’s students completed 150 hours of service work at eight agencies in the Danville and Boyle County area.
“I think the service component presented a major challenge to students in the class,” Goodrum says, “because each had to complete 15 hours of service over the course of the semester and take extensive field notes on those service experiences. However, they met the challenge with a professional and positive outlook, and the students seem to feel that they benefited from the experience—personally and academically. I’m very proud of the way the students handled the workload.”
Nathan Frye ’11, who completed his service with the Beacon Youth Services Center at Danville High School, says he found the work to be incredibly rewarding. “It showed me what needs to be addressed to students in this community,” he says, “and it also helped me realize the importance of connecting with these students—you never know whom your insight will influence.”
Abrams, whose class is allocating their $4,500 to Centro Latino and the Hope Clinic, says she hopes her students have learned the difference they can make in the lives of those around them.
“As citizens, it’s important to use your knowledge and talents to contribute to your communities,” she says.
The Hope Clinic, which opened in 2006, helps individuals from Boyle and surrounding counties who suffer from chronic illness and are unable to afford medical services.
Centro Latino, which began in 2004, is a student-faculty collaborative venture to assist the area’s Latino community that is supported by a 3M Foundation Vision grant. The Centro, located two blocks from Centre’s campus at 326 West Main Street, functions as a referral center, providing pertinent information about local agencies offering services to Latinos. Centre students and faculty members help meet other important needs of the Hispanic community, such as translating at doctor’s and dentist’s appointments, enrolling children in school and running special social and educational programs.