Over this past quarantine, I was asked to get involved and participate in the OC Cares project Y's University of California Irvine Philanthropy course.
OC Cares is a nonprofit organization that was founded by Dr. Katherine Ahn Wallace and is located in Orange County, CA. Their mission is to inspire social entrepreneurship in young teens, which is called Project Y. The hope is that these young teens acquire the necessary skills to make a social impact in their communities.
This program called "Philanthropy in the Community", was an opportunity to participate in and experience a college-level course about contributing and making a positive difference in your community. Here is a description of the course for OC Cares members in more detail:
Through this program, I read an insightful book, Just Giving: Why Philanthropy Is Failing Democracy and How It Can Do Better, in which I learned about the history of philanthropy, how it evolved, and the role it plays in communities, as well as the rest of the world, today. I also had the opportunity to learn from virtual lessons from the UCI "Philanthropy in the Community" professor herself, and listened to other interesting lectures relating to the course.
What was most giving from this class was the chance to learn the theories and develop the skills necessary to give away mini-grants to local nonprofits. The OC Cares students met weekly to discuss what we were learning from the course material. We also spoke and shared our ideas when we researched local Orange County non-profit organizations, and how we would look into whether or not our chosen organization would be best to give away a mini-grant, which is specifically how philanthropy works.
My group specifically researched and connected with the Southern California Indian Center, which is an organization that "promotes social and economic self-sufficiency for American Indian, Alaskan Native, and Native Hawaiian people" (SCIC). We were able to learn about the organization, and the positive impact that they are making in the lives of native families that are struggling in their society.
Taking this UCI college class was beneficial not only for the volunteer opportunities and the many lessons that I learned, but most importantly for the connections that I was able to make with individuals involved in philanthropic and non-profit work, and experiencing what it is like getting deeply involved in this work of philanthropy as a practitioner myself.
To learn more about OC Cares and what they are doing with their work, click on this link HERE to explore and get involved!