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.
Northeastern Students4Giving (NS4G) began in 2008 with a simple question: Can we integrate authentic grant making into a course so students can experience the practical and ethical challenges of investing in social change? Since then, hundreds of students have experienced “learning to give, giving to learn” by awarding $150,000 to Boston-area nonprofit organizations. Thanks to their hard work, our longstanding collaboration with Doris Buffett’s Learning by Giving Foundation, and other donor support, NS4G is now emulated at colleges and universities across the U.S. and around the world.
NS4G is a philanthropy education program that enables students to make a positive and lasting impact in the communities where we live and learn through grantmaking. We make grants to community-based nonprofit organizations that address critical economic and social challenges facing the Boston neighborhoods of Mission Hill, Fenway, Roxbury, and the South End. Through our grantmaking and volunteer work, we strengthen the relationship between the Northeastern University community, our grantees, and the neighborhoods they serve.
How does it work?
NS4G is an example of experiential philanthropy education, a teaching methodology in which students are entrusted with the responsibility of awarding real-dollar grants to nonprofit organizations in their communities. Because we incorporate two courses into our grant making, over 100 students per year are able to participate.
Since 2008 students have used a consensus-based approach to manage all stages of the NS4G funding cycle from conducting needs assessments through making grant determinations. Their philanthropy is informed by coursework in human services and nonprofit management as well as many experiences working and volunteering in the nonprofit sector. Past funding priorities have included youth violence, households at risk due to financial insecurity, positive youth development, post-incarceration reintegration, community mental health, and policy and advocacy.
NS4G Grantmaking Cycle
What do Students Learn?
NS4G provides a platform for students to examine the critical social and economic role the nonprofit sector plays in the U.S., not only as a safety net for people in need, but also as a defining element of our day-to- day lives. While students learn to identify the characteristics of high-performing nonprofit organizations, they also value how much they learn from the organizations that compete for NS4G grants and host site visits. The often-painful need to say “no” to many of those organizations and “yes” to only a few enables them to reflect deeply on the power and privilege associated with stewarding scarce resources in the face of abundant need.
The aim is to do the following:
- Teach students about the socioeconomic role of the nonprofit sector and philanthropy in the U.S.
- Foster leadership, strategic-systems thinking, and innovation in the social impact arena.
- Prepare students to think, work, and collaborate across sectors.
- Promote a campus-wide culture of giving and civic engagement.
- Strengthen the relationship between students and the communities in which they live.
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.