Learning about business can also mean learning to be a good community member. Thats why West Virginia University students at the College of Business and Economics handed out $20,000 Thursday (April 26) to local charities.

They were participants in a class called the Corporate Citizenship Project, an undergraduate course that uses actual money to cause studentsdecision making to have actual consequences in the real world.

Funded through alumni donations and the College of Business and Economics since 2001, the project has given out $120,000 to scores of charitable organizations and has sent graduates into the world who know more than the average person about philanthropy. This year, the class had nearly $60,000 in requests from 18 needy charities, but only $20,000 to work withmuch like philanthropic organizations and corporate foundations that are forced to make difficult decisions about helping their communities.

Students used a spreadsheet with key areas of importance encompassing the beliefs and principles of the class. These areas were then placed on a scale and averaged to assign values to each funding request. Students discussed the ratings, skirting outright confrontation, and used critical thinking skills to come to a final decision.

We had to make decisions concerning what community to serve, what criteria we would judge applicants by, what causes and values were most important to us, and most importantly, how much funding we should provide the organizations we chose to support,said Alice Hudson, a senior management major from Oak Hill.The Corporate Citizenship class exposed me to another side of business success by teaching how to use resources and influence for the betterment of our communities.

Ryan Kelly, a management senior from Beckley, said,This class taught me that values, beliefs, opinions, emotions all play significant roles in decisions. This process was complicated and gratifying, highly emotional and fulfilling. Also, each student completed 30 hours of community service and a done-in-a-day project for the Mountaineer Boys and Girls Club of Morgantown. I will carry these life lessons about philanthropy, debate, management, and critical thinking with wonderful memories of the graduating class of 2007, the College of Business and Economics and West Virginia University.

This years Corporate Citizenship Project Grant Recipients include:

  • Mountain Heart Foundation to fund four children for camp
  • CASA for Kids to provide holiday gifts and train new volunteers
  • Monongahela River Revival for equipment and materials to build website
  • Bartlett House, Inc. for a new commercial stove and freezer
  • Scott’s Run Settlement House for the Step Out program
  • Mon Co. Family Resource Network for Jakes Run/Buela World Servants outreach
  • Pace Tec, Inc. to expand&maintain AR2R program
  • Sundale Nursing Home to purchase a label maker for resident clothing
  • Coopers Rock Foundation for 10,000 maps
  • Christian Help, Inc. to support food pantry