Getting Ready for Grantmaking

11, 12

To develop the course’s vehicle for grantmaking funds to be secured and accessed by students and to identify partners (inside the school and out) that will assist with the success of a Hands On Philanthropy course.

This lesson covers the groundwork for the creation of the grantmaking fund and program of a philanthropy course. It specifically provides background on the particular approach taken by Kentucky Country Day, which included: 1) to create a dedicated fund at the local community foundation that continues to support grantmaking for each successive class of students; and 2) to form a “board” with class members serving in board positions (such as Chair and Treasurer) and teaching some board basics (like member responsibilities and the importance of by-laws).

PrintTime required to set up the class before it begins will include creating documents that provide an overview of the content and student board, drafting and sending correspondence, and holding individual meetings with potential supports and partners.

The teacher will:

  • Learn about potential structures for student grantmaking (internal and external to the school);
  • Understand how student boards operate and the process by which they conduct grantmaking;
  • Work with school leaders, development staff, community foundation staff, and potential donors to create a dedicated fund for the course’s grantmaking and decide whether the philanthropy class will function as a “student board” or conduct grantmaking without this structure and by-laws.

Hands On Philanthropy Course Description and Outline

Example Class Calendar

Example Board Meeting Notes

Community Foundation Fund Information & Examples:

  • Artemis Fund History and Mission Statement
  • Community Foundation of Louisville and Artemis Fund presentation
  • Community Foundation Balanced Fund Example
  • Community Foundation How to Read Your Statement
Teacher Preparation 

As you begin laying groundwork for a course at your school, take steps to secure buy-in from your school to create and build enthusiasm for the course. Involve school leadership, students, teachers, staff (of the development office), and parents (that might serve as speakers or donors) to start the conversation about what the course can look like and how it can become part of the school. Specific steps for your preparation to spread interest and support for the course and to plan for, and design, its grantmaking and fundraising platforms are included in the Instructions section.


  1. Spend time talking with your head of school (or administrator responsible for course approvals) and your advancement office to pique their interest and gain support to offer a philanthropy course. Provide an overview of what students will learn, how a donor and community members can be involved, and the financial needs for student grantmaking.  Before you have conversations, review “Hands On Philanthropy Course Description and Outline,” “Artemis Fund History and Mission Statement” and “Example Class Calendar” (see Handouts) so that you understand the creation, history, purpose, objectives, and activities of the Kentucky Country Day philanthropy course.

  2. If the head of school / administrator and advancement office support the effort, the course will require a fund from which grants would be awarded to address community needs defined by its students. This fund would also be the recipient of any donations secured by each year’s class through their fundraising efforts. You will want to work with your advancement office to consider the best vehicle for your course’s grantmaking fund. One option is for the school to identify funds for the class from the operating budget. A second might is to secure a direct gift from a donor to the school for program costs or to endow the program. A third option is to create a donor advised fund through your local Community Foundation. If your administrator decides that a gift must be secured from a donor to fund the course, work with the advancement office to first identify and cultivate a donor(s) willing to make the investment needed to start a philanthropy course. Certainly, the donor may have a preference about which way they would like to give a gift for the course’s creation.

  3. Meanwhile, you may want to meet with the local Community Foundation to explore how a donor advised fund is created (including the minimum investment required and the cost of maintaining the fund) and how the foundation might be able to help your class each year. Before visiting the Community Foundation, review the KCD documents “Community Foundation of Louisville and Artemis Fund presentation” and “Example Board Meeting Notes” (see Handouts) which provide a snapshot of the relationship between Kentucky Country Day School and the Community Foundation of Louisville and the role students can play in functioning as a grantmaking board. Also, as you consider creating a fund at the foundation, the documents “Community Foundation Balanced Fund Example” and “Community Foundation How to Read Your Statement” (see Handouts) show you the type of reports you (and the student board) would receive if the foundation served as a fiscal agent for the class’ grantmaking fund; at KCD, the board learns to read the fund’s statement and to communicate the fund’s grantmaking amount, fundraising income and total value with its donors. Learning about KCD’s approach may be useful as you begin a conversation with your local community foundation. The Hands on Philanthropy class at Kentucky Country Day was created with a $10,000 donation that started a donor advised fund (known as the Artemis Fund) at the Community Foundation of Louisville. Within ten years of the initial gift, and the addition of annual fundraising by students, the fund was worth more than $100,000. 

  4. Your Community Foundation can be an extremely helpful resource and partner in several ways for your course, regardless of whether you decide to create a fund there.

    • First, the Foundation’s staff will likely be willing to take your class through a mock grant review session during which students learn how professionals review grant proposals (what to look for and criteria for approval).
    • Second, there are few resources in your community that have greater expertise on the needs of the local community and the landscape of nonprofit organizations, youth-serving programs and philanthropists in your community – the staff can help your students understand their city or county in a much deeper way and can make recommendations for guest speakers.
    • Third, you will need to develop a grant application form designed for interested nonprofits to apply for grants from your class. If you are working with your local Community Foundation, it will likely have a standard form that can be adopted by you or your class for use.
    • Finally, the Community Foundation can help your class each year by sending out a “request for proposals” with community organizations across the local community when your class is ready to start receiving and considering grant requests. 
  5. Prepare yourself to teach the course:

    • If the concepts and practices in philanthropy and the nonprofit sector are new to you, spend time reading in this area of study and learning about your city’s nonprofits and community issues. 
    • If you are not a classroom teacher, ask for training to prepare you for academics of the course as well as routine classroom practices like how the students communicate, how attendance is taken, grading, etc.
  6. Create groups to help you launch the course:

    • If you have decided to use a student grantmaking board model for your course, create a one-time “startup” class or student committee that will develop by-laws and a marketing plan, and set a path for future classes. Empowering students to have real input in the class will create buy-in from students and the school. The Community Foundation can be a resource to help you create by-laws.
    • Invite community members to serve on a Board of Advisors to the class (this can include guest speakers, school administration, respected community members).
  7. Marketing:

    • Create a course logo:  Find and work with a marketing firm that will donate its services to create a class logo or have the students develop a logo using Canva or Adobe illustrator.
    • Create a marketing plan: Advise students as they develop and begin to implement a plan that includes a website outline, stationery (thank you notes, letters to grant recipients), social media plan, stewardship reports, and grant promotion to organizations.
Cross Curriculum 

Read about the service-learning project called The Freshman Project by Lausanne Collegiate School students who were taught using this Getting Ready for Grantmaking lesson to guide student learning and action.

Ms. Douglas is an upper school counselor and learning specialist who sees great value in teaching philanthropy and service to her students.