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Students Give $10k to Help Victims of Sex Trafficking

December 20, 2013

Megan Campbell 301-405-4390

COLLEGE PARK, Md. – Forty students in the University of Maryland School of Public Policy's Art and Science of Philanthropy class began the semester faced with a dilemma few college students experience: they had $10,000 to make a real difference and sustainable impact. The question was what issue and which organization – and how to reach a consensus.

Students from the Art and Science of Philanthropy class answer questions related to their experience in the course. The students, who take the public policy class taught by Professor Robert Grimm through UMD's Honors College, learn about effective approaches to philanthropy and nonprofit leadership by operating as a class philanthropy fund. After an arduous process of selecting an issue, in this case empowering and advocating for victims of sex trafficking, they wrote a mission statement, developed key criteria for their grants process, wrote a request for proposals, reviewed applications for eight organizations, conducted six phone interviews and made four site visits. Ultimately, they chose FAIR Girls in DC, a program that prevents the exploitation of girls worldwide with empowerment and education.

On Thursday, Dec. 19, the students delivered a check for $10,000 to FAIR Girls at a grant-award ceremony in Van Munching Hall on the UMD campus.

FAIR Girls currently operates programs in Bosnia, Montenegro, Serbia, Russia, Uganda, and the United States. The FAIR Girls home office in Washington, D.C., offers compassionate care to prevent the exploitation of all girls, with a special emphasis on girls who have experienced homelessness, life inside the foster care system, sexual abuse, and trafficking.

The Art and Science of Philanthropy students' grant will enable FAIR Girls in DC to support and empower five survivors full of potential for one year with the three critical C's: crisis intervention, case management and court advocacy.

Lara White, a sophomore neurobiology and physiology major from Bethesda, Md., said the class initially intrigued her "by the fact that students would be able to make a difference." She shared how the class took a large topic, sex trafficking, and collaboratively narrowed the scope down to victim support. In addition to "loving that feeling of doing good which made the class an amazing experience," White also learned practical skills. She is now able to review a budget, which previously seemed intimidating, and use the financial information to learn about an organization.

Grimm, who teaches the class and directs the Center for Philanthropy and Nonprofit Leadership at the School of Public Policy, said that hands-on experience makes the class a powerful learning experience. The first part of the class is "philanthropy boot camp" and covers how to set up a grant program.  The class then reviews applications, interviews applicants, does site visits, and finally makes the tough group decision about which applicant most deserves funding and why. Along the way, students learn about the evolution of philanthropy in American society.  They also learn about the effective practices of leaders and nonprofit.

Sarah Lu, FAIR Girl's director of developmentFAIR Girl's Sarah Lu (pictured left), director of development, said working with the students rather than typical funders was a different experience; she could really get a sense of the students' passion on this issue. "Being an educated giver is important." She went on to say that the donors who make this School of Public Policy class available don't just impact the organization and its cause, "they change the lives of these 40 students."

Grimm said that's exactly what he hopes to accomplish through the class. "It's not so much a class as an experience," Grimm said.  "By the end of the semester, I want students to be using their heads as much as their hearts, to think objectively about which applicants are a good investment and how to work together to change lives."


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