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Student Philanthropy Council Awards Annual Grants

June 12, 2020
Student Philanthropy Council

Caroline Nelson had a spring to remember.

The Tennessee native graduated from The College of Idaho with her degree in elementary education and is now preparing to pursue her graduate degree. And, as president of the Student Philanthropy Council, she had the pleasure of informing 10 local non-profits that their grant applications had been approved.

“The email, it feels so good to hit ‘send’ and all the responses you get back from it,” Nelson said of the approval process. “It’s really rewarding in the end.”

The rewarding end wraps up what was a challenging spring for many: classes moved online, most students moved away from campus, clubs, and activities were canceled, and traditions paused because of the COVID-19 pandemic. It disrupted the SPC as well but, as Nelson and staff advisor Lauren Schilli noted, there was still work to be done.

“Seeing them take initiative and want to help the non-profits hardest hit by this unexpected event was moving,” said Schilli ‘16, also a graduate of the College. “The students took this curve ball and changed to make sure they still went through a grant process and interviewed all non-profits while social distancing and staying safe. They learned and grew as students and learned about how philanthropy works in a time of crisis, which is a very unique opportunity compared to other years.”

Schilli said, because of the pandemic, the council’s routine had to change. The in-person site visits were out, replaced with more extensive phone interviews and online meetings to discuss applications. As the council’s president, Nelson had to take on extra work. Applications were sent out at the first of the year. Once they started coming back in, the interview process began. Since the council as a group wasn’t able to visit the non-profits in person, Nelson wound up needing to compile everything and make sure the entire council received all the information so the group could make the best decisions possible.

The end result was 10 grants totaling $10,000. Nelson said a factor that was considered by the council was the timeliness of the request. Some applicants were smaller agencies with immediate needs that the grant could fulfill. Once the decisions were made, the recipients were notified by Nelson.

The 2020 Student Philanthropy Council grant recipients:

  • Caldwell Meals on Wheels
  • Boise Rescue Mission
  • Hands of Hope
  • Idaho Humane Society
  • Kids First Cast
  • Mentoring Network
  • Community Cakes
  • Catch Program
  • Peregrine Fund
  • 4H Leadership Club

Nelson is passing the council leadership torch to another student for the upcoming academic year but says she won’t lose her connection with the group.

“I hope when I’m back for my 20th reunion, I can ask about it and people will say, ‘yeah, we’re doing it,” Nelson said.

Students interested in participating in the Student Philanthropy Council should contact Schilli for more information.

The College of Idaho has a 129-year-old legacy of excellence. The College is known for its outstanding academic programs, winning athletics tradition and history of producing successful graduates, including seven Rhodes Scholars, three governors, and countless business leaders and innovators. Its distinctive PEAK Curriculum challenges students to attain competency in the four knowledge peaks of humanities, natural sciences, social sciences and a professional field—empowering them to earn a major and three minors in four years. The College’s close-knit, residential campus is located in Caldwell, where its proximity both to Boise and to the world-class outdoor activities of southwest Idaho’s mountains and rivers offers unique opportunities for learning beyond the classroom.  For more information, visit