April 4, 2010; South Bend Tribune | It may seem odd that a program that teaches the virtues and promise of philanthropy is being aimed at those who appear to have nothing to give. Still, Philanthropy Boot Camp, started by two former Valparaiso, Ind., teachers is also helping high school students at risk of dropping out learn that by giving they also gain a lot.
Over the course of the 24-week after-school program, students learn about service and charitable groups and the work they do to benefit the community. In turn, they teach what they learn to younger students. In addition, program participants choose to raise funds for a local group and then distribute any grants and donations they secure. For the first year, the students donated $4,250 to support local youth programs. Michelle and Chad Bush started the program after the sudden death of their five-year-old daughter, Reilly, in 2007.
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The program had its pilot year in 2009, and according to the South Bend Tribune evaluation results showed that students, who previously showed little engagement in the classroom, performed better and discipline referrals also dropped. More than anything, this program is showing that even those with little have the potential to give quite a bit.—Bruce Trachtenberg