With a smile or a nod, with a handshake or an embrace, and with heart behind each envelope handed on, UTPB’s Students in Philanthropy saw the fruits of two semesters’ labor on Tuesday as the organization awarded nearly $16,000 in grants to area nonprofits during its annual grant ceremony.

With sponsorship from the Abell-Hanger Foundation, UTPB Students in Philanthropy presented $15,913.48 in funding to 11 local agencies during its ceremony in the Mesa Building on campus, marking the culmination of a year’s work in raising funds, reviewing grant applications, making on-site visits to organizations and, finally, awarding grant checks on Tuesday.

Students presented each grant to agency representatives throughout the ceremony Tuesday, sharing about each organization they’d grown to know through the year with the group.

“This is what it’s all about for us,” junior SIP student president Saul Natividad put it simply, just after the event.

“It’s rewarding to be able to actually grant them the money that they requested, and to see how many different ways we’re able to help our community.”

The group’s grant spread to different local agencies active in various causes, like those working in counseling, education, medical relief and the fight against hunger.

“It’s the culmination of everything that we’ve done all year,” senior Patrick Pippins said. “It’s really the moment that makes it the most rewarding, I would say.

“We spend all year raising money, and we spend all year getting to know the people that we’re in SIP with, and then today is when everybody gets to dress to the nines and you get to see all your hard work come to fruition, I would say.”

On top of general fund donations, SIP was able to fully fund several projects for area organizations through its grants, like with its $991.18 grant to Hillcrest School to cover the purchase of a PA system for its performing arts center, or its $375 donation to the House of the Sycamore Tree, covering cost of headphones for each of its computers.

“I was super, super impressed with their enthusiasm and their desire to be committed to the community,” said Montie Garner, president of the board with Odessa Meals on Wheels, speaking of Tuesday’s presenting students. The organization’s $2,027 grant to Meals on Wheels is set to help provide a special holiday meal for enrollees on July 4.

“They had done their homework, they were so prepared and did such a great job, and we certainly appreciate the donation very much — and it will put to great use,” she added.

Representatives from all 11 accepting agencies were on hand at Tuesday’s ceremony.

“It’s very, very rewarding and we feel very fortunate. There’s so many nonprofits out there — hundreds upon hundreds,” said Clint Garner, who accepted a $2,500 grant on behalf of West Texas Gifts of Hope. “They could’ve leaned in their direction, but they chose us, so it’s an honor.

“The students, the whole group, they’re all amazing,” he added. “They really have their act together and they’re making a splash in the community as young people.”

After working to raise money in the fall semester, participating students spent much of the spring semester sifting through grant applications from area agencies, working through interviews with applicants and making on-site visits to different organizations on their way to choosing where to send the grants.

It’s a process that helps teach students how to keep involved in philanthropy upon graduation, and one that drives students to new causes, said both students and SIP coordinator Cristy Batte.

“It’s very rewarding to watch the students get to give away the money they worked so hard for,” Batte said.

“Some students definitely have found a soft spot for certain agencies, and it’s neat to see students finding their passion,” she added.

Pippins said several of his classmates found those passions through this year in SIP.

“It kind of awakens that part inside you that says, ‘I really need to help people; I need to try and make things better for my community,’ and then it gives you the skills so that you can serve your community, no matter where you go,” Pippins said.

UTPB Students in Philanthropy 2018 grants:
  • Agape Counseling Services, $1,500
  • Aphasia Center of West Texas, $1,025
  • Big Brothers Big Sisters, $1,500
  • Buckner Children’s Home, $2,500
  • Gammy and Papa’s Helping Hands, $750
  • Hillcrest School, $991.18
  • House of the Sycamore Tree, $375
  • Midland-Odessa Area AIDS Support, $1,000
  • Meals on Wheels, $2,027
  • Permian Basin Petroleum Museum, $1,745.30
  • West Texas Gifts of Hope, $2,500