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May 08, 2014

For the students in Dr. Ira Silver’s Nonprofit Giving course at Framingham State University, the growing opportunity divide in American society isn’t just a subject to talk about in class - it’s a problem they’re equipped to go out into the world and mitigate.

Thanks to the support of the Learning by Giving Foundation, the class has $10,000 to award to a non-profit organization in the Boston area. After researching nearly 50 organizations, the class awarded the money to the United Teen Equality Center (UTEC) in Lowell, Mass., during a special reception on campus on Thursday, May 8th.

“We were inspired by the staff and the work they do to help teens turn their lives around and embark on paths toward success,” FSU Student Kristin Espinola said during the reception. The students presented the check for $10,000 to UTEC Streetworker Johnny Chheng and Manager of Corporate Relations and Job Development Keon Webbe.

Students in the course began the semester by reading Dr. Silver’s book, Giving Hope: How You Can Restore the American Dream, which shows how philanthropy can enable Americans experiencing hard times to move their lives forward. Students subsequently researched nonprofits that, at least from their websites, appear to be doing promising work to fuel greater opportunity. They came up with a list of nearly 50 organizations which, after lengthy discussion, they whittled down to 27 whose work aligned with their mission.

The students spent a couple of hours creating a grant application, discussing the kinds of information they would need to make a proper evaluation of organizations interested in obtaining funding. Then they invited the list of 27 to submit proposals, 20 of which did. After a careful review of the applications, including four site visits, the class decided to award the entire $10,000 to the United Teen Equality Center (UTEC) in Lowell, Mass.

UTEC was founded in 1999 as the result of an organizing movement driven by young people to develop their own teen center in response to gang violence.

Today, nationally recognized as a model youth development agency, UTEC's mission and promise is to ignite and nurture the ambition of our most disconnected youth to trade violence and poverty for social and economic success. The organization serves proven-risk youth from both Lowell and Lawrence, Mass.

Student Lindsey Cronk says the Charitable Giving Course has changed her entire view of sociology and the career paths that are available.

“Going on the site visits to these great non-profits was really inspiring,” she says. “I’m really grateful to the Learning by Giving Foundation for providing us with this opportunity.”

You can learn more about Dr. Silver’s work on his blog at www.oppforall.com.

About Framingham State University

Framingham State University was founded in 1839 as the nation’s first public university for the education of teachers. Since that time, it has evolved into a vibrant, comprehensive liberal arts institution offering small, personalized classes on a beautiful New England campus. Today, the University enrolls more than 6,400 students with 53 undergraduate and graduate degree programs in arts, humanities, sciences, social sciences and professional fields. As a public university, Framingham State prides itself on quality academic programs, affordability, and commitment to access for all qualified students.

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