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Philanthropy Column

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While Andrew Carnegie and John D. Rockefeller may be names more familiar from American-history lessons on industrialization, they will soon be cropping up in a new place in New York City schools: philanthropy class.

With the help of a $292,000 grant from the Surdna Foundation, the Student Service and Philanthropy Project was launched in three of the city's high schools in 1991. The project will be expanded to 20 high schools next fall.

The foundation gave each pilot class $7,500 to award grants to student-run community-service projects. (See Education Week, March 18, 1992.)

Students in the class create a foundation, define its mission, solicit grant proposals and decide which to fund, monitor their grantees' progress, and write a final evaluation. They also study the history of philanthropy and community service and visit foundations and nonprofit organizations.

At James Monroe High School, one of the projects funded by the Dreams Become Reality Foundation was an H.I.V./AIDS peer-education program.

The students who started it "are now looked upon citywide as leaders in that field,'' according to Tom Porton, an English and drama teacher at Monroe who is also the coordinator of student activities.

With the help of the student foundation's funding, the H.I.V./AIDS program established a mobile AIDS-information van for community outreach and organized conferences to help other schools launch programs.

Janelle Askew, a junior at Monroe, said the class taught her leadership skills that proved valuable when she was elected president of the student body. "Instead of complaining about it, you have a chance to solve [a] problem,'' Ms. Askew said.

Yojaina Almonte, a sophomore now enrolled in the class, said she and her classmates enjoy the independence they are allowed. "This is the first time I've had to deal with the fact that if you make a mistake, there are actual consequences,'' she said.

The Student Service and Philanthropy Project recently published a guide on how to establish a student-run foundation. The 104-page guide features sample lessons on topics ranging from launching a foundation and deciding on its focus to evaluating grant proposals.

Free copies of the publication are available from Linda M. Frank, Student Service and Philanthropy Project, 310 West End Ave., Apt. 10B, New York, N.Y. 10023; (212) 877-1775.

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