Students in the West Virginia University College of Business and Economics spent this semester learning how difficult it can be to give.

The students in the Corporate Citizen Project class learned Tuesday (Dec. 10) that giving can also be satisfying after distributing $25,000 among nine nonprofit organizations in Monongalia, Preston and Taylor counties.

Two B&E alumni �€Howard Knicely and Robert Reitman �€made the grant possible through donations from TRW and the Robert S. and Sylvia K. Reitman Philanthropic Fund. The gift allowed students to participate in the only class of its kind in the nation, one where they learn to make tough decisions with real consequences in their community.

“This class teaches students about how business can make a significant positive impact on local communities and rise above the �€~business as usualmentality,”said Gerald Blakely, professor of the course.”They learned how nonprofit organizations operate, how to assess the needs of the local community and how to go about making difficult decisions in a responsible way. These are important professional and personal skills.”

To determine which local charities should receive a grant, the class solicited proposals for projects that would benefit the greater Morgantown community, developed a set of criteria for judging them and selected the winners from among nearly 40 proposals. The nine winning organizations and their projects were:

  • Casa For Kids, recruit/train volunteers

  • Hospice Care, provide three-day camp for bereaved children

  • In Touch and Concerned, transportation

  • Literacy Volunteers of Mon/Preston, matching funds for purchase of learning materials

  • Rape and DomesticViolenceCenter, playground for women/children

  • Sundale Nursing Home, virtual dementia tour training for staff, volunteers, students

  • Taylor County Humane Society, spay/neuter program

  • The Advocacy Project, operating expenses, equipment

  • WadestownCommunityResourceCenter, walk-in freezer for food bank

For many students, this class was their first real introduction to not-for-profit businesses.

“Its a whole other world out there I wasnt aware of,”said Jonathan Marshall, a political science major from Grafton.”Now I see nonprofit businesses as a significant force in society that will grow even more as government continues to withdraw from providing social services. With the need Ive seen and my new awareness of the nonprofits out there, I know I am more willing to help than I was before.”

Courtney Cable, a marketing major from Buckhannon, said she started out skeptical but changed her mind as she began to see the importance of supporting community activities.

“I was really amazed at all the volunteers and donors I saw, giving so generously,”she said.”Because of this class, I know I will give that way too when I get established in business.”

This is just what Knicely and Reitman hoped for when they arranged for the grant. Knicely, who earned a B&E master’s degree in 1960, is executive vice president of human resources and communications at TRW , a global technology, manufacturing and service company. Reitman, a 1955 B&E graduate, is a former chairman and CEO of Tranzonic Companies, a Cleveland-based personal care products and industrial textiles company.

“It is important for the business world to nurture a sense of social responsibility and to share in community policy-making,”Reitman said.”In suggesting and supporting the Corporate Citizen Project, our family hopes to better prepare the next generation of business leadership for its critical role in this process.”

B&E Dean Jay Coats said the class clearly demonstrates the leveraged power of giving.

“With a single gift and a vision, two men were able to contribute to the education of a dozen students, enhance our curriculum and outreach programs, and improve the quality of life in our community,”Coats said.”That’s the kind of power giving we hope our students are learning about.”