MBA Community Grant Program announces recipients

by Bryan Martz MBA'19,

Willamette MBA students award more than $150,000 granted to nine local nonprofits.

  • students present check to a grant recipient
    Students Ryan Tokeshi MBA’19 (far left) and Tynan Gable MBA'19 (far right) present a check to representatives from Start Making A Reader Today (SMART).

The Willamette MBA Community Grant Program selected nine local nonprofit organizations to receive funding for the 2018–19 grant cycle. The eight-membered group of students chose these organizations out of a competitive field of applicants across Marion, Polk and Yamhill counties. In total, these organizations will receive over $150,000 in grant funding. Established in 2016 as a partnership between United Way, Mountain West Investment Corporation and Willamette MBA, this program has benefited 26 organizations through $450,000 in grants in its first three years.

Recipients selected by the 2018-19 cohort:

  • Center for Nonprofit Stewardship, Education to Increase Nonprofit Effectiveness – $8,000
  • Family Promise of the Mid-Willamette Valley, There’s No Place Like Home – $30,500
  • HIV Alliance, Testing and Outreach Services in Marion County – $15,500
  • James 2 Community Kitchen, Falls City Kitchen Improvement Project – $8,000
  • Juliette’s House, Child Abuse Prevention Education – $15,500
  • Polk County Family and Community Outreach, Mid-Valley Suicide Prevention Coalition – $35,500
  • Silverton Area Community Aid, Hunger and Housing Support – $20,500
  • Start Making a Reader Today (SMART), Building Home Libraries – $7,307
  • St. Francis Shelter, Helping Homeless Families find Home – $9,500

These recipients were celebrated at an event April 12. Each organization was presented with their award and the opportunity to explain their initiative to the approximately 50 people in attendance, including Willamette faculty, staff and students; community members from throughout the Mid-Willamette Valley; and current and former cohort members and advisory board members of the Willamette MBA Community Grant Program.

This is the culmination of a year of hard work for the students enrolled in the Willamette MBA course, Philanthropic Investment for Community Impact. At the beginning of the academic year, students crafted a shared mission of empowering leaders in the community by supporting initiatives, efforts, and programs that leave a lasting impact on the community. Together with their values, this mission helped the students work towards our vision of a thriving and resilient constellation of nonprofits that is better positioned to improve the well-being of the community.

Students relied upon guidance from co-instructors Andrew Galen and Nicole Thibodeau along with advice from prominent leaders in the local nonprofit community to inform their decision making process. Agreed upon by all eight members, this year’s focus areas were hunger, housing, education and health. Decisions throughout the year were made by assessing potential impact on these funding areas and overall alignment with the cohort’s mission, vision, and values.

Of the 94 organizations who submitted letters of intent to the program in November, the students received 32 submissions in response to a request for proposals, which totaled to over $700,000. Through a diligent and systematic review process, the students narrowed down their list to a final group of 16 organizations selected for site visits that would provide students with a more complete picture of each organization.

An informed and transparent conversation amongst the members of the cohort lead to their tentative funding decisions. The students then reviewed their framework for decision making with the course’s advisory board. After these decisions were made, organizations were notified and invited to the recent ceremony. As part of grant agreements, students in next year’s cohorts will follow up with these grantees over the next year to evaluate impact of the selected initiatives.

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