Eighteen students in the College of Business & Economics at West Virginia University are learning how to think like corporate philanthropists this semester. They are accepting applications for grants through Friday, March 11. The class will hand out $20,000 to local non-profit organizations at a special event on April 26.
Called the Corporate Citizenship Project, the program is in its tenth year at the WVU College of Business and Economics. Students have given away over $200,000 since 2001. Funding for the program comes from the College of Business and Economics, WVU and alumni who recognize the importance of businesses contributing to the community.
The program was originally designed by Management Professor Gerald Blakely at the encouragement of B&E alumnus Bob Reitman to teach future business leaders the value of contributing to society and the community. This year, Dr. Joyce Heames, associate professor of management and industrial relations, is leading the program.
The class solicits proposals for projects that would benefit Monongalia County, develops criteria for judging them (including each program’s track record and the impact a grant would have), and then chooses the winners during the final days of the semester. They operate with the mission statement of “As a class focusing on Corporate Social Responsibility, we will strive to improve our community by investing effort, knowledge, and funds in effective non-profit organizations.”
Each year, as part of the class, students make a trip to Cleveland, Ohio, to meet Reitman, who graduated from the college in 1955 and provided funds to start the project. There they hear from community philanthropists and fundraisers; last year, notably, the founder and director of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and the director of the Cleveland United Way.