Learning about business can also mean learning to be a good community member. That’s why West Virginia University students at the College of Business and Economics handed out $20,000 to local charities on April 27, during the final days of the spring semester.
They were participants in the Corporate Social Responsibility class, an undergraduate course that uses actual money to demonstrate the impact of student decision making in the real world.
The class solicited proposals for projects that would benefit the greater Morgantown community, developed a set of criteria for judging them, and then chose the winners from among 22 proposals. The program is in its 11th year, and students have awarded a total of $245,000 since 2001. Funding for the program originally came from College of Business and Economics WVU alumni who recognize the importance of businesses contributing to the community. It is now funded primarily by the college.
This year, the class had almost $63,000 in requests from more than a score of needy charities, but only $20,000 to work with on a smaller scale much like philanthropic organizations and corporate foundations that are forced to make difficult decisions about helping their communities.
Students used a spreadsheet with key areas of importance encompassing the beliefs and principles of the class. These areas were then placed on a scale and averaged to assign values to each funding request. Finally, students discussed the ratings and contributions of the agencies and used critical-thinking skills to come to a final decision.
Jordan Wilcox, a marketing major from Parkersburg, W.Va., said the course was valuable to her.
“I got to see both sides of the grant giving process through this class,” she said. “I researched grants for Milan Puskar Health Right and helped our class decide about giving a grant. It made me realize how difficult these decisions are to make, but how rewarding it can be to make a difference.”
Jason Kram, a management senior from Gloucester, Va., said, “My involvement in the Corporate Social Responsibility Class has made me aware of an entirely new and rewarding aspect of contemporary business. We have learned the processes and procedures needed to judge a not-for-profit initiative, and we’ve also had the opportunity to practice what we’ve learned.”
This year’s Corporate Citizenship Project Grant recipients:
1. Scott’s Run Settlement House: $3,000 for a “Back Pack” feeding pilot program in Monongalia County
2. Ronald McDonald House Charities: $1,441 to build a “family room” inside WVU Children’s Hospital
3. Rape and Domestic Violence Information Center: $2,000 for kids domestic violence packs and RDVIC
4. Monongalia County Child Advocacy Center: $2,500 for free therapy sessions for children and families
5. Milan Puskar Health Right: $458 for 5, 1000 Adult CPR training Mannequins
6. E4P: $3,500 for its Empowerment and Poverty Alleviation Program
7. The Connecting Link: $3,000.00 to help families in Monongalia County heat their homes this winter
8. CASA for Kids: $1,200 to train and support new volunteers
9. West Virginia Family Grief Center: $2,900.00 for 9 percent of its yearly funding
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CONTACT: Joyce Heames