Penn Charter course teaches the art of giving

Schools July 9, 2014 0 Comments

Melinda Berkman and Andy Greenhow (far right) accept a $2,500 gift to the Broad Street Ministry from students in Penn Charter's Philantrophy 101 summer class, one of the few courses in U.S. high schools that teaches students the art, science and meaning of philanthropic service.

Melinda Berkman and Andy Greenhow (far right) accept a $2,500 gift to the Broad Street Ministry from students in Penn Charter’s Philantrophy 101 summer class, one of the few courses in U.S. high schools that teaches students the art, science and meaning of philanthropic service.

On the final day of Penn Charter’s Philanthropy 101 summer course, one of the few courses in U.S. high schools that teaches students the art, science and meaning of philanthropy, students presented a grant proposal for a playground project at a Philadelphia public school and made a gift of $2,500 to the Broad Street Ministry.

The popular and innovative course, designed by Jim Ballengee, a Chestnut Hill resident, veteran teacher at Penn Charter and founder of PC’s Center for Public Purpose, increases student awareness of society’s needs and helps them begin to develop the understanding, motivation and instinct for philanthropic service. During the three-week summer course, in addition to numerous readings, Ballengee brought speakers to class and escorted students on visits to nonprofits and foundations. They learned more about Philadelphia as well as how nonprofit organizations work.

As a final project, the juniors in the class were tasked to develop a grant proposal for a worthwhile project. Those students developed a plan for a playground at E.W. Rhodes School, a Philadelphia public school in the Allegheny West section of Philadelphia. Penn Charter and Rhodes have an ongoing relationship: Last year PC collected more than 900 books for the library at Rhodes, a K-8 school that opened with library books for grades 9 through 12.

The Philanthropy 101 students said they were moved to learn that students at Rhodes had to spend recess inside for several months last year because their recess space was unsafe. They wrote a grant proposal asking for $8,500 in seed money for the playground project, and are anxious to hear if the foundation to which they applied will fund the grant.

The seniors in the class, given the privilege and responsibility of making a $2,500 donation from Penn Charter to a nonprofit, chose the Broad Street Ministry, an organization on Broad Street in Center City that describes itself as “a broad-minded Christian community that cherishes creativity, fosters and nurtures artistic expression, extends inclusive hospitality and works for a more just world through civic engagement.”

Seniors presented the gift to Andy Greenhow, the organization’s minister of stewardship, and explained that they valued the organization’s local focus and emphasis on inclusion and creativity.

“We love your location, we love that you work with partners, that you have youth initiatives, and that we share the basic philosophy that a tenet of philanthropy is helping people help themselves,” said PC senior Sarah Brody-Bizar.

Greenhow attended with Melinda Berkman, Broad Street Ministry’s director of finance and administration.

“We are delighted to receive your gift,” Greenhow told the class. “Some people take the view that the more we have the more we can leverage getting more – for ourselves. We are grateful to all of you for thinking, as we do, that the more we have the more we can give.”

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