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Students to get $50,000 lesson in philanthropy

February 24, 2015 11:00 AM
Mary Sparacello msparace@tulane.edu
Michele Adams, associate professor of sociology

Michele Adams, associate professor of sociology, will teach a new philanthropy course this fall with support from The Philanthropy Lab. The organization and its donor partners have given $3.5 million to build philanthropy education at universities. Tulane is the 14th university in the program, along with Harvard, Yale, Stanford and others. (Photo by Paula Burch-Celentano)


This fall students at Tulane University will be able to enroll in a new course, “Philanthropy and Social Change,” in which they will study philanthropy and ultimately allocate $50,000 to worthy New Orleans nonprofits.

The Once Upon a Time Foundation, a Fort Worth–based organization, is funding the course as part of its program, The Philanthropy Lab, which supports philanthropy education at universities.

Whether you are involved in a big foundation or giving away $5, you must give philanthropy careful and systematic consideration.

Michele Adams, associate professor of sociology

“I think students are going to walk away from this experience with a much better understanding of how they participate in the public good,” said Michele Adams, an associate professor and chair of sociology at Tulane.

The Philanthropy Lab, explained program director Lauren Wolter, aims to “teach students to understand the problems that exist in the community, how different organizations are solving those problems and how philanthropy can help.”

Adams said the class will be capped at 25 students who will work in teams to become thoughtful, “socially responsible” philanthropists. They will study the history of philanthropy, learn why philanthropy is sometimes described as the “third leg of the American economy,” visit nonprofit agencies and devise strategies to distribute foundation dollars most effectively.

According to Carole Haber, dean of the School of Liberal Arts, the Once Upon a Time partnership with Tulane is a natural fit.

“Our students come to Tulane with a desire to become involved in the community and make a difference in the lives of New Orleanians. The Philanthropy Lab gives them unmatched, first-hand experience,” Haber said.

“This course perfectly complements our students" public-service graduation requirement,” said Lou Franchina, senior development officer in the Office of Corporate and Foundation Relations. “This grant will transform theory into practice and provide a real-world introduction to philanthropy. It will benefit not only Tulane faculty and students, but also some of the most disadvantaged — and most deserving — citizens of New Orleans.”

Mary Sparacello is a communications specialist in the Office of Development Communications.