Michelle Bush

Philanthropy Boot Camp is an all new program coming to Thomas Jefferson and Ben Franklin Middle School. This program is a comprehensive approach to educating youth about philanthropy and the nonprofit industry. Students are engaged in lessons taught by community experts in the nonprofit community.

During the 20-week program, each one-hour session is offered twice per week at each of the participating schools. Each school selects students to participate in the program, and we encourage open enrollment for a total class size of 25 per session.

At the beginning of the program, students conduct research regarding the needs of their communities. Once a need has been identified, the students learn the various aspects of fundraising, including why people give and how to raise funds through special events, asking directly, and grant writing.

Over the course of the program, students design, market, and host one fundraising event, design a grant application, solicit applications from community nonprofits, and using their earnings, award grants to nonprofit organizations and Enrichment Scholarships for children in need.

Various field trips to nonprofit facilities and volunteering efforts are also included in our session curriculum. Student not only will learn about their community but will also learn various life skills like public speaking and working as a team.

Each lesson is facilitated by a trained community volunteer and may include a guest speaker with expertise in the highlighted field. Teacher certification is not required, but facilitators and guest speakers must have a passion for teaching youth ages 11-14, the ability to teach community value, and the enthusiasm to encourage service learning.

Each session is designed as a stand-alone lesson, so that if a student only chooses to participate in a single session, he/she will still benefit from that one lesson. Upon completion of Philanthropy Boot Camp, each participating student will develop the ability to recognize the needs in their environments and the will and confidence to take the necessary steps to change it.

Students are encouraged to continue their philanthropic efforts independently.

The program will run from January through May at each school. Thomas Jefferson Middle School will host the program on Mondays and Wednesdays after school from 2:50-4 p.m.

Ben Franklin Middle School will host the program on Tuesday and Thursday after school from 2:50-4 p.m. For more information contact Michelle Bush, Home School Advisor, at mbush@valpo.k12.in.us.

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This column solely represents the writer's opinion. Michelle Bush is Home School Advisor and philanthropy boot camp coordinator.


Annette is Porter County Community Coordinator for The Times. She has been with the paper for 20 years. A resident of Hobart, she graduated from Purdue University with degrees in English and German.