Central students secure grants through philanthropy course


Two nonprofits in New Britain will benefit from the hard work of nine students enrolled in Central Connecticut State University’s “Psychology of Giving and Introduction to Philanthropy” course.

CCARC, Inc. and Boys and Girls Club of New Britain were awarded $5,000 each based on grant applications written by the students and submitted to the American Savings Foundation. Central has offered this unique approach to philanthropy since 2019 in support the university’s community engagement efforts. This year, Associate Vice President for Community Engagement and Experiential Learning Dr. Beth Merenstein led the course. Merenstein also serves as executive director of Central’s Center for Community Engagement and Social Research. 

“Psychology of Giving and Introduction to Philanthropy” explores the roles and responsibilities of the philanthropic and nonprofit sectors, while challenging students outside the classroom. Students spent the semester learning about fiscal responsibility, grant writing, understanding community needs, and how the nonprofit sector addresses those needs. Representatives from philanthropic, civic, and community organizations were brought in to share their expertise, and students spent time engaging with local nonprofits and learning about the people they serve.

At the end of the semester, the students presented their final projects to a panel comprised of American Savings Foundation staff and committee members. The students’ projects showcased their research around a specific challenge faced by members in the New Britain community. They also prepared and submitted a grant application on behalf of a local nonprofit organization working to address those needs. 

“It is very important for our students to realize how philanthropists add to the greater good of the community,” said Central President Zulma R. Toro. “It is my sincere hope that as they become graduates from Central, they will continue to give back to others and become role models among their peers.”

The CCARC grant will support a new art initiative that offers a series of art classes and potential entrepreneurship opportunities to artists with intellectual and developmental disabilities. Funds will be used to purchase art supplies and equipment needed to launch this new program.

The Boys and Girls Club of New Britain will add an art education component in their after-school program offering painting, drawing, sculpture, music, dance, and theater for participants ages 6 to 14. Funds will support a part-time instructor and art supplies.

“What sets this course apart is the tangible outcome of two grant awards, which are a direct result of the students’ hard work during the semester,” said Maria Falvo, president and CEO of American Savings Foundation. “It is not just the local non-profits who benefit from this class. The students learn a tremendous amount about the nonprofit organizations that serve our community, and potential career and volunteer pathways they may not have otherwise considered.”

Since 2019, American Savings Foundation has awarded $30,000 to local non-profits as a result of student-led presentations during The Psychology of Giving and Introduction to Philanthropy course.