Learning by Giving Philanthropy Grant

Since 2003, Davidson College students enrolled in POL 381, "Philanthropy and the Nonprofit Sector," have allocated grants to local non-profits as a central part of the course. A total of $120,000 in grants have been disbursed over the past 19 years. The endowed funding for this course was made available through the generosity of the Learning by Giving Foundation, established by Doris Buffet, to promote student learning about effective and responsible philanthropy.

In spring 2022, $20,000 will be allocated by the class. The grant money will be awarded to non-profits submitting what the class judges to be the most promising projects.

The grant has two equally important purposes:

  • Pedagogical: to promote student learning about grant writing, project proposals, and effective philanthropy.
  • Stewardship and service: to ensure that these funds are allocated to the most worthy project proposals generated in the broader community.

The students are responsible for almost all aspects of the grant, including determination of eligibility requirements, application procedures, and selection of grantees. Neither the Learning by Giving Foundation nor Davidson College plays any role in these deliberations.

The Grant

A total of $20,000 in grant money is available to eligible non-profit agencies through a competitive application process. Grant requests may range from $2,000 to $10,000. 

We invite proposals from registered 501(c)(3) organizations with sustainable projects in the greater Charlotte and Lake Norman areas, including Alexander, Iredell, Catawba, Rowan, Lincoln, Gaston, Cleveland, Cabarrus, Mecklenburg, Union, Anson, and Stanly counties.

Both secular and faith-based organizations are welcome to apply, although proposals for projects with proselytizing goals or requirements to attend religious services cannot be considered. Proposals may request funds to launch a new project or support an ongoing one.

Of the $20,000 in grant money, $5,000 is earmarked for proposals from non-profits operating in one of the four towns in the immediate vicinity of Davidson College: Huntersville, Cornelius, Davidson, and Mooresville. The remaining $15,000 is open for all non-profits in the Greater Charlotte area.

The students will use the following criteria in assessing the applications: project design, project impact, organizational capacity, finance and budget, and application quality.

Application Form

Download the grant application form (PDF).


Applications may be submitted by email attachment or mail. Email and attachments must be received by March 16, 2022 at 11:59 P.M. Applicants will receive acknowledgement of receipt of application by email. Applicants will be notified of grant allocation decisions in the second week of May.

Contact Information

Applications should be emailed to Prof. Ken Menkhaus at pol381@davidson.edu 

For clarification or more information, please contact Prof. Ken Menkhaus at kemenkhaus@davidson.edu or at 704-894-2291. Do not contact the Learning by Giving Foundation or Davidson College administration; they have no direct role in the grant.

View past grant recipients (PDF).