Students in Public Policy 45: Introduction to Public Policy Research taught by Professor Ron Shaiko, Associate Director of the Nelson A. Rockefeller Center at Dartmouth College, provided two Upper Valley nonprofit organizations—the Fairlee Public Library and the Claremont Learning Partnership—with $5,000 grants for their work in the Upper Valley.
During the last third of the fall term class, student teams are matched with Upper Valley nonprofit organizations in need of assistance in writing grant proposals for foundation support. The student teams were matched with nine nonprofit organizations, five of which were provided by the Center for Social Impact as part of its Social Impact Practicum course designation. Four additional nonprofits were identified by Professor Shaiko. In addition to the teams crafting letters of inquiry and full grant proposals for their clients, the teams also identified three foundations that provide grants in the programmatic areas identified by the clients in meetings with the teams. The students on each of the teams had one final responsibility relating to this project.
On Tuesday, November 15, each student team made a five-minute presentation to the class. The class members served each team as the board of the foundation to which the team had solicited for funding. As each group presented, students took notes and then asked questions of the presenters. Once all nine teams had presented, each student was tasked with selecting the top three "most worthy" organizations, based on the presentations made by the teams. Students were allowed to vote for their own projects if they believed the project to be one of the top three presented. Students provided ranked order votes for first, second, and third places. Once the votes were tabulated, the Claremont Learning Partnership and the Fairlee Public Library projects received the most votes in total.
The organizations were unaware of this last step in the class project. So, on Thursday, the team of Allison Burg '25, Alexander Clarke '25, Kai Etheridge '25, and Elizabeth Rudnick '23, presented their five-minute via Zoom to Beth Reynolds, library director of the Fairlee Public Library, and then surprised her with a check for $5000.00.
Beth Renynolds shared with us, "I was so grateful to this group of students for coming to spend some time on a busy Saturday morning. They were so kind and asked such thoughtful questions. I so appreciated how attentively they listened and worked all of my major points into their presentation. Of course I cried when they told me about the $5,000. This amount can make such an impact in our little community.
Since 2020 we've had a major uptick in people needing to zoom for telehealth and for our other reasons, some of which can be very private. Our hope is to use this money as the starting point for some renovations to our building to better serve our community. We have always been very service oriented, but in today's world we find it even more necessary to try and provide what people need, or at least help them figure out how to access it. What a difference this gift of money will make towards meeting some of those goals and being better able to help those patrons looking for consistent internet and a private space."
Later on Thursday, the team of Anne Guidera '25, Prescott Herzog '25, and Sophie Saraisky '25 made their five-minute presentation via Zoom to Cathy Pellerin, executive director of the Claremont Learning Partnership and also surprised her with a check for $5,000.00.
Cathy said, "The grant we received from Dartmouth's student philanthropy project is coming at the best time ever. With this year's rise in utility costs, CLP has been struggling to find funding to cover the additional cost of fuel this winter. This unexpected gift will allow us some breathing room and make it so that we can comfortably cover the overage in our fuel costs. This is very, very important as we will not have to take money out of other much needed program's budgets to cover the shortage. I would like to extend my deepest thanks to Professor Shaiko and all of the students involved with this project."
Not only were Beth and Cathy were caught off guard and were overwhelmed by the generosity of the students, the students were greatly affected by the project as well:
"This project was impactful for me because it was the first time I've done work in class that has had a real-world impact. It was really inspiring and motivating to see firsthand how our work positively affected the organization we worked with." – Sophie Saraisky '25
"This project particularly meant a lot to me because I grew up in the town that my nonprofit was in. I had known about some of the Claremont Learning Partnership's work before working on the project, but combining my actual lived experiences in Claremont with my project team in delivering effective messaging for the CLP was a once-in-a-lifetime way of giving back to my hometown. I'm so excited that our project was able to deliver $5,000, and potentially an additional $17,000 through the grant we wrote, to an organization doing frontline work to protect some of the most vulnerable members of our community." – Prescott Herzog '25
"For me, this project has been an opportunity to use the skills which I have learned at Dartmouth to tangibly give back to the Upper Valley community. Helping the Fairlee Public Library finance its upcoming renovations has been a very rewarding experience!" -Alexander Clarke '25
This project was special for me because of its real-world involvement. Working with a struggling population in the local community opened my eyes to the issues Dartmouth's neighbors face. It was extremely meaningful to put time and effort into this project, knowing the results would have a significant impact on those in need. -Anne Guidera '25
The gifts are without restrictions and may be spent as the two directors see fit for their organizations. The funding for this class project was provided by a grant from the Jack and Dorothy Byrne Foundation.