For five years Denison Venture Philanthropy (DVP) has been investing both money and time in the Licking County community, working to “effect meaningful change in the lives of others.” The unique student program organized around philanthropy will invest $10,000 and 200 student volunteer hours this year, and it is offering a request for proposals (RFP) to local non-profit organizations. The DVP will examine community needs and evaluate the proposals before funding the grant and providing the volunteer hours. An electronic version of this RFP, and other information, is available at the website denison.edu/vpc. Completed RFPs should be emailed to Alana Perez at firstname.lastname@example.org by Monday, Sept. 9. You may additionally submit a hardcopy to Alana Perez, 8957 Slayter Union, Granville, Ohio 43023, or fax to 740-587-6348. Questions about the RFPs will be fielded by Alana Perez at email@example.com or by the group's faculty advisor, Fadhel Kaboub at firstname.lastname@example.org, or at 740-587-6315.
To date, more than $37,500 and 900 student hours have been invested in the Licking County community by the DVP. Last year's grant was awarded to the Licking County Humane Society, which used the funds to purchase a management software program and utilized the student hours to research the software options, install the chosen program and fill the database. Peter Hurford, a rising senior from Cincinnati, says, “Prior to our work, they were tracking donations with Excel spreadsheets, which looked very difficult to manage and used up a lot of staff time. By buying higher-end software, they are able to free up staff time for more important activities. Furthermore, better features allow more engagement with donors, bringing in more money.” He added “Our hope is that our $10,000 investment will bring in far more than $10,000 in additional donations.”
Grants for the program are mostly funded through the generosity of David Kuhns, a member of the Denison class of 1968. In 2008 Kuhns challenged Denison students to organize an effort based around philanthropy – but one that also required an investment of student time as well as dollars. Now each year DVP students take an active part in the Licking County community by supporting an area organization with funding and at least 200 hours of service. The DVP creates strong ties between the college and the community and offers students experience with real-world issues.
In its first year, the DVP granted $2,500 to the Save Our Homes Task Force, which supported a Borrowers Outreach Day, designed to connect homeowners in financial distress with the support from banks, credit counselors and legal aid. The following year, the DVP then invested $5,000 in the Reading Foundation of Licking County to support literacy, and in 2010 they granted $5,000 to Pathways of Central Ohio to create an RxCollect program to safely and securely dispose of unwanted prescription drugs. In 2011, the Licking County Coalition for Housing received a grant for $10,000, which helped them to become more effective by reengineering their website and database.
Following the selection of this year's recipient, members of DVP will volunteer their time with the winning organization from January through April, and also will work with them to conduct an outcomes assessment of the grant.