St. Thomas students get a taste of philanthropy

Twin Cities area nonprofit organizations will receive financial help and seven University of St. Thomas students are learning what it's like to give away a lot of money thanks to local business owners Jackie and Chris Gibney.

For the second year, the Gibneys gave $30,000 to the university for a program that gives students the opportunity to study the needs of nonprofit organizations and learn how to allocate funds to worthy groups.

The seven students on the Gibney Student Board reviewed 119 funding applications, visited 12 of the locations, and in the end, chose four:

  • The Children's Safety Center is a St. Paul site that provides a safe setting for children and their noncustodial parents who are legally required to have supervised visits. The Gibney Award will help the center renovate its indoor and outdoor play and visiting areas.
  • St. Mark's School, a St. Paul grade school, needed help with its Peaceful Playgrounds project. When completed, the project will transform a mostly asphalt play area into a safe place for school and neighborhood children to play.
  • The Prop Shop, in Eden Prairie, provides free clothing and household items to families in need. The award will help the Prop Shop purchase items that are in high demand, but seldom donated, such as underwear and socks.
  • Spare Key, in Bloomington, is a program that provides mortgage assistance to families with children who have serious medical problems.  The assistance enables parents spend more time with their kids.

The organizations will receive their grants at a luncheon that will be held from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. today, Feb. 9, in the Great Room of McNeely Hall on the university's St. Paul campus.

Each of the organizations will receive a check for $5,000. One organization, to be announced at the luncheon, will receive an additional $5,000.

The seven students on this year's Gibney Student Board are Lauren Becker, Danielle Cotton, Laura Farley, Kylie Gayan, Tyler Manning, Andrew McPherson and Renae Pappas.

All have completed "Business 200: Learning Through Service," a noncredit course required of all majors and minors in the university's Opus College of Business.  Most students complete the course in their sophomore year and collectively contribute about 32,000 hours of service to communities in the Twin Cities and around the world each year.

Dr. Barbara Gorski, coordinator of Business 200, also oversees the Gibney Award.  The two programs, she says, teach lessons that are not learned in a typical classroom.