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.

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.

NS4G Grant Making 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.