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Through the Global Philanthropy Initiative (GPI), the Social Impact Lab shares the lessons we have learned about experiential philanthropy education with partners around the world and collaborates with them to develop courses that are socially, culturally, economically, and legally appropriate in their local contexts.


Since its inception, SIL has been a pioneer in experiential philanthropy education (EPE) in the U.S. Our first opportunity to support EPE  internationally arose when SIL Director Rebecca Riccio was named the 2014 Heloise Waislitz Fellow at Swinburne University in Melbourne, Australia, and helped the Asia-Pacific Centre for Social Impact and Philanthropy integrate grant making into a course.

Drawn to the idea of promoting experiential philanthropy education in diverse learning environments around the world, Northeastern parents Khaled and Olfat Juffali established an endowment to support SIL’s international programming, including GPI in 2015.

Read an interview with the Juffalis discussing the Global Philanthropy Initiative in The Seeds of Social Change by Karin Kiewra. (Originally published in Northeastern University Magazine, Summer 2015.)

How GPI works

We collaborate with the counterparts in other institutions to identify a course that lends itself to EPE, then work collaboratively with the instructor to integrate EPE best practices into all aspects of the course. The course development process accounts for multiple facets of the local context, including social and cultural norms related to charitable giving, laws governing nongovernmental organizations and philanthropic practice, and the landscape of nongovernmental organizations. GPI courses also retain critical elements of EPE including: 

  • Grant making with real money so students understand that their decisions have real-world consequences.
  • Independent decision-making so students know they are trusted and capable of making difficult, meaningful decisions.
  • Collaboration with local organizations and community members.
  • A culture that encourages all students to participate so they understand that their voice matters.
  • A consensus-based decision-making process that fosters collaboration and a sense of shared purpose.

GPI Universities

Thanks to the Khaled Juffali Family, GPI has established partnerships with two Universities in Saudi Arabia.

“Saudi Arabia has a rich cultural tradition of philanthropy.  There’s so much to learn from our partners about how experiential philanthropy education can be adapted across cultures. If we can demonstrate through this collaboration that classroom-based grant making can provide students with a meaningful learning experience in Saudi Arabia, we can bring the lessons we learn to other countries as well.”

Rebecca Riccio

Prince Sultan University

Grant ceremony honoring the grantee of Prince Sultan University’s first experiential philanthropy course in 2016. Read more here.

With the goal of introducing experiential philanthropy practices in Saudi Arabia, GPI partnered with Dr. Yazeed Mohammed Alfakhri, philanthropic advisor to the Juffali family. After an intensive week of learning about SIL’s teaching methodology and co-designing his new course with the lab’s founder and director, Rebecca Riccio, Dr. Alfakhri launched Prince Sultan University’s first course in 2017.

“We’re using the knowledge of the lab, which is already known as a leading thinker, innovator in this area and we’re glad how they are flexible in sharing and adapting the knowledge and considering other factors that could also play a major role in what philanthropy looks like in Saudi Arabia… We’re looking to put together their knowledge, the context of Saudi Arabia and the vision of [Khaled] Juffali as a philanthropist.”

Yazeed Mohammed Alfakhri (Read the full interview, Reaching New Heights With Philanthropy Education, with Dr. Alfakhri here)

Effat University

Effat University, the first private institution of higher education for women in Saudi Arabia, launched its experiential program in May 2021 with support from the Social Impact Lab and the Khaled and Olfat Juffali. Grant making was integrated into a summer course that allowed students to ultimately award $10,000 to an organization providing medical equipment to individuals requiring home healthcare. 

SIL Director Rebecca Riccio joined students at Effat University from afar for their first grant ceremony.

For more information, please contact one of the GPI partners.

In the Middle East:

Dr. Yazeed M. Alfakhri

Philanthropy Consultant


In other regions:

Rebecca Riccio

Juffali Family Director, Social Impact Lab; Lecturer of Human Services