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The Social Impact Lab is a global leader in Experimental Philanthropy Education. Every year our students are entrusted with the responsibility of awarding real-dollar grants to nonprofit organizations in their communities.

Please scroll down for a complete list of our grantees.

History of NS4G: “Learning to Give, Giving to Learn”

Northeastern Students4Giving (NS4G) was launched in 2008 with the goal of introducing undergraduate students to the complexities of funding the work of social change by engaging them in real-dollar grant making to local nonprofit organizations in the Boston communities of Fenway, Mission Hill, Roxbury, and the South End. At that time, there were few models for experiential philanthropy education. We began by emulating common U.S. foundation practices, with students identifying funding priorities, issuing requests for proposals, reviewing submissions, conducting site visits, and choosing one organization to receive a ten thousand dollar grant. Past funding priorities included supporting households facing financial insecurity, positive youth development, post-incarceration reintegration, community mental health, civic decision making, chemical dependency, and policy and advocacy.

NS4G Today: Centering Equity

Our model has evolved significantly over the years, driven by a commitment to reimagining the work and funding of social change through our “Ways of Thinking, Ways of Being, Ways of Doing” framework, which emphasizes systems thinking and racial and social justice. Today, students assume responsibility for educating themselves as fully as possible about the communities surrounding Northeastern University’s Boston campus, their challenges and aspirations, and the extraordinary work of the nonprofit organizations working within them to effect change. NS4G grants are directed to nonprofit organizations already identified for their excellence and responsiveness to local needs by community-based funders.

Experiential Philanthropy: Learning with Consequences

Experiential philanthropy is a teaching methodology that integrates real-dollar grant making into an academic course to illuminate its content and heighten students’ awareness of the practical challenges and ethical implications of investing in social change. The experiential nature of EP courses heightens students’ sense of self-efficacy and social responsibility because their decisions are independent and have meaningful consequences for local communities.

Academic Framework

Student grant making is embedded in a rigorous academic course that examines the critical social and economic role the nonprofit sector plays in the U.S., ranging from providing critical safety net services to weaving the fabric of our day-to-day lives. The course also challenges students to reflect on the inequitable power dynamic between those who control resources in the social change arena and those who do the work of addressing some of society’s most difficult challenges.

Impact Around the Corner and Around the World

NS4G and programs it has inspired have resulted in over $700,000 in grants to high-achieving nonprofit organizations in Boston, in the U.S., and around the world. Here some of SIL’s groundbreaking experiential philanthropy initiatives:

  • Through NS4G and Social Impact-athons (shorter, intensive giving events grounded in the same principles and practices), nearly 1,000 Northeastern students have experienced  “learning to give, giving to learn.”
  • Social Impact-athons have been held to support organizations working on environmental justice and the COVID-19 epidemic in Boston and women’s and girls’ empowerment in Mumbai.
  • The late Doris Buffett’s Learning by Giving Foundation (LxG) has funded most of our annual grant making since 2010 and created several opportunities to share our frameworks with universities and students across the U.S. and around the world. LxG invited SIL founder and Juffali Family Director Rebecca Riccio to co-create and teach Giving With Purpose, the world’s first experiential MOOC. Offered in 2013 and 2014, Giving With Purpose offered 2,000 students around the world the opportunity to award $250,000 to nonprofit organizations across the U.S. through a collaborative online experience, thanks to a donation from Warren Buffett. Philanthropy on the Field, another collaboration with LxG, resulted in over $100,000 being awarded to several Boston nonprofits.
  • Together with Sheik Khaled and Mrs. Olfat Juffali, SIL has established the Global Philanthropy Initiative to introduce experiential philanthropy education in universities around the world, beginning in Saudi Arabia with Prince Sultan University in Riyadh and Effat University in Jeddah.

Past Grantees

Every year NS4G makes grants to community-based nonprofit organizations using a rigorous process to choose outstanding organizations that address critical economic and social challenges facing the Boston neighborhoods of Mission Hill, Fenway, Roxbury, and the South End. To learn more about the program and grantees view our information packet here.