Skip To Content
Student Philanthrophy

Students Pay it Forward With a Hand Up to Fellow Peers

PayitForwardVisitors to the Alma Upshaw Dining Hall may have noticed the aroma of hot chocolate wafting through the air Nov. 12.  If they followed their nose, they would have been led to a table hosted by Spelman’s Student Philanthropy Council in recognition of National Philanthropy Day as a way to thank students who have made contributions to the College.

The Student Philanthropy Council consists of 18 students across all classifications who are working to increase student donor participation through philanthropic education. The council’s primary objectives are to inform fellow students of the importance of giving back and to increase gifts to the President’s Safety Net Fund.

Established in August, the council has already made incredible strides, raising $2,300 from 163 student donors, a marked increase over the $370 contributed by students in the same time frame in 2013. During New Student Orientation, the Council distributed blue piggy banks to first year students to help them save toward their class gift. So far, first year students have participated at a rate 10 times the total participation for the entire year of first year students in the 2013-2014 academic year.

Scholarship recipients themselves, a number of the council’s members are serving as a way to pay it forward and help provide assistance to other students with financial need.  Another motivating factor for their participation, according to Briana Knight, C’2016, the council’s president, is their belief that “you have to invest in yourself if you want others to invest in you.”

Through their work, council members learn more than expected about philanthropy. Briana said her interest was piqued after a stint in the College’s telefund office where she made calls to alumnae thanking them for their gifts and asking for renewals.  “Spelman women enjoyed hearing from us about the things happening on campus and sharing what it was like when they were students.” An economics major, Briana says, “The job really opened my eyes to a lot. A lot of people don’t understand that tuition alone doesn’t cover all of the expenses to educate students.”

In acknowledgement of that fact, the council is planning an event in February to highlight Tuition Free Day, the approximate point in the fiscal year when revenue from tuition stops covering educational costs and the financial support from other means begins.  The goal of Tuition Free Day is to raise awareness among students that their tuition covers just a fraction of what it actually costs to educate them for one year. The council will also take that opportunity to celebrate the thousands of alumnae and friends of the College who are making an investment in the lives of Spelman students. “We want to highlight all the great things on campus that are made possible by donors,” says Briana.

This article by Stacey Lyons, director of the Office of Stewardship & Advancement Services,  originally appeared in the online publication Inside Spelman.