Students experience philanthropy through Pay It Forward program

Pay It Forward

YSU student Diane Doddato, right, president of the YSU Student Nonprofit Leadership Organization, presents a check to the Boys and Girls Club of Youngstown as part of the Pay It Forward program at YSU. From the left are Jacquetta Peoples, program coordinator, Boys & Girls Club; Jermaine Phipps, one of the Boys & Girls Club members receiving grant funds to be a “Junior Staffer” this summer; and Rachel Kerns, interim executive director of the Boys & Girls Club.

Youngstown State University students in the Nonprofit Leadership academic program gained hands-on experience in philanthropy this spring through the Pay It Forward: Strengthening Communities through Student-Led Philanthropy Initiative.

Students in the Nonprofit Community Service class had $2,000 to award to a regional nonprofit organization. The students focused funding decisions on programs/projects related to hunger, performing arts and youth development. The students awarded the $2,000 to The Boys & Girls Club of Youngstown, Ohio, for the “Join The Workforce: Junior Staff Program,” which gives teens the opportunity to manage younger youth and their peers, provide them with club responsibilities, and give them a chance for a better future by teaching them work ethic and teamwork. The Pay It Forward funds will be used to give two youth the opportunity to be “Junior Staffers” this spring at the Boys & Girls Club.

The grant award was distributed at the Pay It Forward Award Ceremony earlier this month at the Boys and Girls Club, 2105 Oak Hill Avenue, Youngstown.

In total this spring, the students reviewed more than 20 proposals requesting over $53,000.

The Pay It Forward Initiative helps students learn how to be engaged citizens and to understand the important role philanthropy plays in the health of our local communities – while meeting course specific goals. The initiative will address critical economic needs in the Mahoning Valley through student-led grant making and volunteerism.

The Center for Nonprofit Leadership in past years received grant funding from Ohio Campus Compact/Learn and Serve America to add a philanthropy component to multiple courses in the Williamson College of Business Administration. This year funding is available due to student fundraising efforts to sustain this initiative on campus.

YSU students also participated in the Pay It Forward: Strengthening Communities through Student-Led Philanthropy Initiative during the spring semester of 2010, 2011 and 2012. In total, participating students have awarded more than $31,000 to regional nonprofit organizations through this initiative and performed over 3,000 hours of community service. Students enrolled in Pay It Forward courses are each required to perform 15 hours of community service.

This project continues to engage our business majors and nonprofit leadership students in professional development opportunities with the nonprofit community and fulfills the mission of the Williamson College of Business Administration: to prepare undergraduate and graduate students for productive and fulfilling careers as leaders in business, government, nonprofit organizations and society.  The Center for Nonprofit Leadership offers a certificate/designation and a minor in Nonprofit Management and Leadership, which can be combined with any major on campus.

For more information on the Pay It Forward Initiative or Youngstown State University’s Center for Nonprofit Leadership, contact Laura McCaskey at 330-941-1870 or