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Inspiring student leaders

Rebecca Riccio, founding pro­gram director of North­eastern Students4Giving (NS4G), has been invited to serve as one of the three inau­gural mem­bers of the Aca­d­emic Advi­sory Com­mittee for the Learning by Giving Foun­da­tion.
The foun­da­tion — founded by Doris Buf­fett, the sister of investor and phil­an­thropist Warren Buf­fett, and launched on Sept. 19 at the second annual Social Good Summit in New York City — pro­motes phil­an­thropy at the under­grad­uate level with the hope of inspiring stu­dents to become leaders in their com­mu­ni­ties.

Riccio, who also serves as a lec­turer in Northeastern’s human ser­vices pro­gram, extols the virtues of studying phil­an­thropy, which, she says, “is an amazing plat­form for exploring the social, polit­ical, eco­nomic and cul­tural orga­ni­za­tion of Amer­ican society.”

In 2006, she estab­lished a con­sulting prac­tice focused on max­i­mizing the impact of phil­an­thropists and non­profit orga­ni­za­tions in fields such as edu­ca­tion, human ser­vices and com­mu­nity devel­op­ment.

In 2011, NS4G was for­mally rec­og­nized as a pro­gram. The student-​​led ini­tia­tive is designed to foster lead­er­ship and inno­va­tion in the non­profit sector and pro­mote a campus-​​wide cul­ture of giving through service-​​learning courses, a stu­dent club and part­ner­ships with non­profit orga­ni­za­tions in the Boston neigh­bor­hoods of Mis­sion Hill, the Fenway, Rox­bury and the South End.

As part of her role on the advi­sory com­mittee, Riccio will col­lab­o­rate with col­leagues at other uni­ver­si­ties funded by the foun­da­tion to expand the knowl­edge base of phil­an­thropy edu­ca­tion at the col­le­giate level. Col­lab­o­ra­tors will com­mu­ni­cate through an inno­v­a­tive online plat­form devel­oped in part­ner­ship with Google.

NS4G will receive $10,000 per year from the Learning by Giving Foun­da­tion to make grants to non­profit orga­ni­za­tions that address social and eco­nomic chal­lenges such as afford­able housing, home­less­ness and com­mu­nity devel­op­ment.

Last year, stu­dents in two service-​​learning courses at North­eastern — “Human Ser­vices Pro­fes­sions,” and “Strategic Phil­an­thropy and Non­profit Man­age­ment” — awarded a total of $25,000 to three non­profit orga­ni­za­tions pro­moting pos­i­tive youth devel­op­ment in Boston, including STEP Edu­ca­tion, InnerCity Weightlifting and Inquilinos Boricuas en Acción.

The grant-​​making por­tion of the experiential-​​learning oppor­tu­nity adds a per­sonal touch to the aca­d­emic exer­cise, Riccio says. “Stu­dents grapple with the allo­ca­tion of resources because their deci­sions matter,” she says. “Studying phil­an­thropy pre­pares stu­dents to become effec­tive agents of social change no matter what field they end up in.”

– by Jason Kornwitz

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