Wednesday, May 2, 2012
NKU student wins $5K, national award for
‘Norse in Need’ student philanthropy plan
A junior at Northern Kentucky University has won the third annual Sillerman Prize for Innovations in Philanthropy on College Campuses. Darnell Wilson will receive $5,000 for his project, Norse in Need, which would help fellow students in need of emergency aid to boost student retention.
Developing this fund through small student donations, Wilson’s project is designed to supply mini-grants of up to $250 to help students facing a possible disruption of studies. The student-managed project casts a wide net for student contributions as small as $5 to build up the stock of resources that will supply an emergency aid pool, which can be used to get a student over a hump.
In Wilson’s oral presentation to the judging panel of 12 philanthropists and higher education professionals at the Heller School for Social Policy and Management at Brandeis University, he made a bold statement to the effect that he wanted NKU to be known as the “philanthropy school,” earning the reputation directly from the generosity of its students. While other schools may be known for their athletic prowess or other attributes, his plan proposed an NKU stake in the ground for philanthropy.
Wilson’s dynamic presentation and grass roots approach resonated with the judges who reviewed four finalist applications from the 20 submissions from around the country. Other applicants, from Denison University in Ohio and New York University, proposed creative and innovative projects as well, but Wilson’s enthusiastic commentary on how most student philanthropy models are not designed to make philanthropy hit home through personal sacrifice, won the day.
Courses that teach philanthropy, even experiential courses with a giving component, use other people’s money and the experience is still “one off,” he said in his winning submission. Norse in Need incorporates the latest technology and social media to create a simple process that can involve all students at NKU through events, a mobile phone application and honoring fellow students through one’s own donation.
Claudia Jacobs, associate director at the Sillerman Center for the Advancement of Philanthropy at Brandeis University, said “Darnell’s folksy authentic approach with PowerPoint slides using the Kentucky Derby Pie as his theme captured the hearts of the judges who each agreed with his approach of democratizing philanthropy on the NKU campus – and his tale of transporting a Kentucky Derby Pie through airport security brought smiles to judges and other participants alike.”
The Sillerman Center for the Advancement of Philanthropy sponsors this annual prize to motivate college and graduate students around the U.S. to think more deeply and creatively about how to incorporate philanthropic values into campus life. The $5,000 prize comes with no strings attached.
A team of Babson college students won the 2011 award for their “Piglet Project,” supplying every freshman with a piggybank where they saved coins to donate for Babson student scholarships.
The 2013 competition will be announced in the fall at sillermancenter.brandeis.edu.