The College of Business and Economics provided 17 students with a chance to think like corporate philanthropists this spring while helping the local community.
They spent the semester working as volunteers at local charitable organizations knowing that their efforts were more than just helping out. They were learning about these organizations in order to decide how, and to whom, they would allocate $20,000 as the semester drew to a close.
They began accepting grant applications in March, and during the last week of classes, they did indeed award that sum to more than a dozen organizations in a ceremony at B&E.
Known as the Corporate Social Responsibility class, the program is in its 13th year. Students have given away more than a quarter of a million dollars since 2001. Funding for the program comes from the College and WVU alumni who recognize the importance of businesses giving back to the community.
Bob Reitman, a 1955 B&E alumnus, proposed the class idea to teach future business leaders the value of contributing to society and the community.
Dean Jose "Zito" Sartarelli acknowledged Reitman during the ceremony, calling him and his wife Sylvia "strong supporters" of the class. He also acknowledged the efforts of Dr. Heames, who has led the course for seven years.
The class requests proposals for projects that would benefit Monongalia County, develops criteria for evaluation (including each program's track record and the impact a grant would have), and then chooses recipients during the final days of the semester guided by their mission statement to have long-lasting impact while providing quality service to the community.
Vanessa Gramlich, president of the class, said the experience taught her "the importance of giving back to the community." She said it was especially rewarding to help organizations in the Morgantown area because her family is from the city, although she now lives in Wheeling. "Morgantown has been more that a college town to me," she said. "It's been a second home, and now I'll know that I helped the local community through this class." Gramlich will graduate in May and has been accepted into the College's Master of Science in Industrial Relations (MSIR) program.
Andrew Tackett, a senior from Bowie, Md., who is also graduating and entering the MSIR program, said he had never been a volunteer before. This semester, however, he helped teach homeless people at the Caritas House, an organization that provides supportive housing for individuals who are chronically homeless with disabilities.
"I was hesitant about doing this," he said. "Now, after this course, I know how extremely rewarding helping others can be." Tackett said the course taught him also that businesses can benefit by helping the community in several ways, including building a loyal customer base, in addition to the benefit of giving to the community.
Other recent recipients were:
- CASA for Kids
- Monongalia Child Advocacy Center
- Christian Help, Inc
- Mental Health America of Mon. County
- Rape & Domestic Violence Info Center
- WV Family Grief Center, Inc
- Milan Puskar Health Right Clinic
- Children's Discovery Museum of WV
- Scott's Run Settlement House
- St. Ursula Food Pantry and Outreach