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Community & Nonprofit Leadership students win $50,000 grant award at the Philanthropy Lab Ambassadors Conference

Attendees at the Philanthropy Lab Ambassadors Conference, including School of Human Ecology students, pose with a large $50,00 check in a conference room.

Community & Nonprofit Leadership students Brelynn Bille and Morgan Peters represented the UW–Madison School of Human Ecology at the 2022 Philanthropy Lab Ambassadors Conference. 

Brelynn and Morgan competed with undergraduate student ambassadors from 14 U.S. colleges and universities for a $50,000 grant for a nonprofit organization they chose to represent during their Philanthropy Lab course. 

Below, Brelynn and Morgan share in their words what this experience meant to them.

Being School of Human Ecology students, we learn about a wide array of social issues and how to address the great need in our world. As a university that prides itself on its commitment to public service, we feel that it is our duty as a university to have more classes on philanthropy, especially in fields where the focus typically may be more self-serving. That’s why we were excited to take Professor Cynthia Jasper’s Philanthropy Lab course and serve as representatives of the course at the national Philanthropy Lab 2022 Ambassadors Conference.

Logo with a black background and white text that reads "ReGeneration International Inc."

While taking the CSCS 400 Philanthropy and Civic Engagement course, our class decided to focus on the nonprofit ReGeneration International Inc. to build a grant proposal around. ReGeneration International Inc. works with children and adults who have faced sexual abuse, exploitation, and trafficking in the Philippines since 2012. The Philippines is the global hub for child pornography and online exploitation, with the average age of victims being 11, and the youngest official report being of a two-year-old. ReGeneration International Inc.’s most recent projects include building the very first home for sexually abused and exploited boys, allowing them to receive aftercare services, therapy, social work assistance, education, medical treatment, and love.

We had about four weeks to prepare a formal grant proposal, create a project budget, and provide tax information and annual budgets by working with two of ReGeneration International Inc.’s passionate leaders.

—fundraising chair Jocelyn Huey and founder Charisa Stauffacher.

Our proposal focused on duplicating ReGeneration International Inc.’s work of building a boy’s home by supporting the funds required to build a girl’s home just a few houses away.

Each house can hold up to 15 kids, ages 0-17. The main need identified for this proposal was that there are no aftercare facilities designed to take in siblings after they are removed from their abusive situations. Not only will this grant build the entire physical structure, but it will also open opportunities ReGeneration International Inc. has to apply for future grants.

There were 14 schools including Northwestern, Harvard, and Notre Dame at the Philanthropy Lab Ambassadors Conference that were divided into three groups. After pitching our initial proposal in an 8-minute presentation and Q&A, we then connected with our representative at ReGeneration International Inc. to answer all the questions our peers had to help them decide who should receive the $50,000 grant.

Two college students stand together holding a large $50,000 check for ReGeneration International Inc.
Brelynn Bille and Morgan Peters at the Philanthropy Lab Ambassadors Conference in Dallas, TX.

The first round of voting resulted in us moving to the final round, while the other three organizations tied for second. After a few more rounds of voting, ReGeneration International Inc. and one other grant proposal were selected for the final round. We then held Zoom calls with a representative from each organization to learn more about the work they do.

After a long and difficult discussion, ReGeneration International Inc. and the other finalist faced a tie vote. To break the tie, we organized a new split-vote system, allowing everyone to have three votes instead of one. This resulted in ReGeneration International Inc. securing the final grant by one vote.

We were speechless because one of the most important things we learned at the conference was that giving is hard. What is even harder is the realization that other equally deserving proposals and nonprofits would not receive funding.

However, we came together as a strong group and were praised for our collaborative and mature spirits moving through the whole process. 

The most rewarding part of the conference was being able to then surprise ReGeneration International Inc.’s leaders Jocelyn and Charisa with the exciting news. We texted them and said that the conference group had one last question for them to clear up before we could make our decision. The question: “Will you accept this check for $50,000?”

Both Jocelyn and Charisa were at a loss for words, and tears quickly started streaming down their faces. We immediately could see the impact this had on their hearts and their organization, and we hope to come see the girl’s restoration home that will be funded by this grant when it is completed. We plan on staying in close contact with ReGeneration International Inc. and the kids it serves.

Throughout our time in the Community & Nonprofit Leadership (CNPL) program, we have had the opportunity to learn about the ins and outs of nonprofit organizing, management, and philanthropy. Being able to take all of that knowledge and put it into practice is one of the most rewarding parts of being CNPL students.

Our coursework doesn’t just teach us about why we should make change, it gives us the chance to truly go out and do it! We believe that any student who wants to be a world changer would benefit from the CNPL program and the School of Human Ecology.

Regeneration International Inc.’s work is not done yet! With this $50,000 grant going to build a girl’s restoration home, there is still just over $20,000 that needs to be raised to fully furnish the house and have it ready. 

If you are interested in giving these girls some painted walls, windows, sinks, etc., you can donate on their website at https://www.regenerationinternationalinc.com/donate