Foundations of Community Philanthropy

February 6, 2020

group shot of philanthropy interns and community members

In November, a group of Sewanee students, faculty, and staff gathered for lunch in a meeting room in McClurg Dining Hall to meet an educational pioneer: Dr. Sybil Hampton, president of the Winthrop Rockefeller Foundation, based in Little Rock, Arkansas. A lifelong proponent of social justice and education, Hampton was part of the second group of students to integrate Arkansas’ Central High School following the groundbreaking Little Rock Nine. That evening, she would deliver the keynote address, “Playing the Long Game,” at the Philanthropy Internship Grant Awards Ceremony. 

Both the lunch and the ceremony were the culmination of a yearlong process for a group of six students who had been chosen as philanthropy interns. In the spring semester, they attended a class led by Nicky Campbell Hamilton, C’99, who develops community partnerships in her role with the Office of Civic Engagement. Then in spring and summer, they shadowed the grantmaking process of the South Cumberland Community Fund. Finally, after learning philanthropy theory and seeing that theory put into practice by an innovative community organization, the students were empowered to make their own grants. 

“I thoroughly enjoyed our discussion of time, treasure, and talent [in the class],” said Teressa Colhoun, C’20. “It can be difficult for young people to feel adequate to engage in philanthropy because we so often associate philanthropy with the giving and taking of money. However, talent is also vital to the success of philanthropies.” 

Colhoun was also moved by connections she made in the community. “It was inspiring ... to hear that so many individuals, all of whom lead busy lives, are going out of their way to develop programs, engage in their communities, and help others.” Colhoun has been encouraged to engage in philanthropy and community work “throughout my life.” 

Eight grants totaling $29,887 were awarded at the ceremony and are now at work providing basic services, education and enrichment for inmates, financial literacy training, mathematics education enrichment at a local high school, promotion of a recreational trail, and youth sports.

This work is supported by the Fund for Civic Engagement; Antoinette and Ben Brewster, C’70; Lisa Green Brock, P’14, P’16, and Charles Brock, C’87, P’14, P’16; the Chisholm Foundation; and Dr. Charles Robert Clark and Joanne M. Clark, P’80, P’82, P’85. The University hopes to raise an endowment to sustain this innovative partnership between a community fund and a university as they work together to build conditions of thriving. 

To make a gift to the McCardell Fund for Community Philanthropy, a new endowment supporting this important work, contact strongertruergifts@sewanee.edu.