WVU Corporate Citizenship Project gives $20,000 to local nonprofit organizations
Students from the College of Business and Economics (B&E) at West Virginia University were given the chance to put their corporate philanthropist hats on this spring while helping the local community – and on April 23 (Thursday), these students awarded a total of $20,000 to 10 local nonprofit organizations.
The Corporate Social Responsibility students requested proposals for projects that would benefit Monongalia County and developed criteria for evaluation, including each program's track record and the impact a grant would have. The students then chose grant recipients during the final days of the semester, guided by their mission statement to have long-lasting impact while providing quality service to the community.
This year's Corporate Citizenship Project grant recipients included:
- Scott's Run Settlement House: $4,000. The award will benefit its Backpack Feeding Program, which prevents children in need from going hungry over the weekend. The organization serves 870 children every week in six elementary schools, and the award will serve 40 children for an entire school year.
- Operation Welcome Home: $2,500. The award will benefit the organization with a new furnace for the facility to create a comfortable environment for the veterans they serve daily.
- Mountaineer United Soccer Club, Inc.: $2,000. The grant will go toward recreating the curriculum for the Top Soccer program, which helps special needs children get involved with the organization.
- Monongalia County Child Advocacy Center: $2,100. The grant will aid the organization in providing free therapy services for children who have been abused.
- Mountaineer Area Robotics: $2,500. The grant will benefit a science competition in which they will participate.
- Coordinating Council on Homelessness: $2,000. The money will benefit the organization's Morgantown Cold Shelter Program to get those who are homeless into housing.
- Children's Discovery Museum: $1,200. The grant will improve its interactive dinosaur exhibits.
- Chestnut Mountain Ranch: $1,200. Fu8nds will be used to purchase an AED defibrillator for the organization, as the ranch sits on a mile-long dirt road, in the case of an emergency.
- Bartlett House: $2,000. The grant will benefit the Housing First program.
- Appalachian Prison Book Project: $500. Funds will be used for the purchase of books.
Participating students in this class have injected more than a quarter of a million dollars into grants for community nonprofit organizations since 2001. Known as the Corporate Citizenship Project, the program is in its 13th year. Funding for the program comes from B&E and WVU alumni who recognize the importance of businesses giving back to the community.
"What sets this class apart from other years is their focus on professionalism – they really have tried to approach this from a corporate standpoint," said Dr. Joyce Heames, chair and associate professor of management and industrial relations. "This group made the transition from being just students to an allocation group and a corporation a little smoother than some classes in the past, and that takes a lot. They were willing to meet until midnight if they had to, and willing to stand up for what they believe in to make the tough decisions this semester."
Matthew Blair, president of the CSR class, spoke at the ceremony about how he learned in this class that just $1,000 could impact a nonprofit organization for an entire year's worth of their service.
"This class was such a lesson to me in the value of a dollar, even though I'm someone who has held a job since I was 15 years old," Blair said. "This class showed me how much impact one single dollar can have and how much these organizations really need it to carry out their work. The most important thing for me was being able to have our group come together and make the hard decisions at the end of the day, and this experience was the most valuable thus far for me in my college career."
Bob Reitman, a 1955 B&E alumnus, proposed the class idea to teach future business leaders the value of contributing to society and the community.
Milan Puskar Dean Jose "Zito" Sartarelli acknowledged Reitman during the ceremony, calling him and his wife Sylvia "strong supporters" of the class. He also acknowledged the efforts of Heames, who has led the course for eight years. Blair also recognized Heames during the ceremony for her mentorship.
"Not too often do you see a professor going so far above and beyond the call of duty to help their students. Professor Heames even invited us all to her house just to have dinner one night," Blair said. "I think it speaks volumes about her dedication, not only to teaching but to the West Virginia community and to the students. It was a great experience and it really helped cap the class."
"Our mission statement that we created in the first two weeks of the course was this: ‘Together and individually, we will work to improve awareness of social issues by successfully allocating funds and educating the community through service and research guided by integrity, compassion and accountability,'" said Haley Chenoweth, secretary of the CSR class. "We had a lot of strategic objectives that we, as a class, wanted to follow throughout the semester, and we wanted to use our mission statement to guide us through these decisions and to act as a moral compass for us."
For more information on the Corporate Social Responsibility project, contact Chenoweth at BECSRClass@mail.wvu.edu. For further information about the WVU College of Business and Economics, please visit be.wvu.edu.