Students in Philanthropy 101, one of Penn Charter’s upper school summer elective courses, completed their class by giving a gift of $8,000 to Pegasus Therapeutic Riding Academy to support scholarships for low-income students who could not otherwise afford the program.
Pegasus Therapeutic Riding Academy, in the Rhawnhurst section of Northeast Philadelphia, exposes students to the movement of the horse to strengthen muscles, and to improve balance and coordination for walking. Founded in 1982, Pegasus is the only therapeutic riding program in the city and the only program in an urban setting in the U.S.; Pegasus serves more than 100 riders each week.
“We split into two groups and each determined which areas we were interested in,” rising junior Daniela Guillen said, explaining how the class chose to give to Pegasus. “One group was interested in animals and people with disabilities and the other was interested in education and children. We tried to combine the ideas and Pegasus was perfect because it works in all those areas.”
Pegasus Social Media Director Alexandra Manwarren visited the Penn Charter campus in East Falls in late June to receive the gift from students.
“The level of research, time and initiative to find out about our programs is incredible,” she said. “This gift will change lives.”
The Philanthropy 101 students, taught by Jim Ballengee, founder of Penn Charter’s Center for Public Purpose, spent a month hearing from nonprofit officers, experts and philanthropists to learn about effective and impactful grantmaking, measuring nonprofit outcomes and trends in the philanthropic world. Students thought carefully about how they can give, how they can make a difference.
“The most important thing I learned in the course was about high-impact philanthropy and ensuring your gift dollars go as far as they can,” Isiah Powell-Taylor, a rising senior.
Ballengee crafted a syllabus that merged classroom-based, hands-on and field-based learning. Students visited multiple local charities, including the Whosoever Gospel Mission, the Mercy Neighborhood Ministries and Face to Face. Students heard directly from grantmakers and nonprofit experts from the Barra Foundation, Patricia Kind Family Foundation, the Philanthropy Network, and the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for High Impact Philanthropy.
Funding to make the grant to Pegasus was made possible via course fees, a gift from Ballengee and a grant from the Patricia Kind Family Foundation. Laura Kind McKenna, managing trustee of the foundation, encouraged students to think like grantmakers. McKenna’s four children graduated from Penn Charter and she has been involved in the course for several years.
When in the classroom, students met in small groups to review the public financial records (IRS Form 990) of several local organizations to learn what those documents reveal about the health and stability of an organization, particularly its ability to manage a large grant and the organization’s potential to have a positive impact in the community. “I was interested in this course because giving is a large part of my religion, Quakerism,” said Ryan Hood, a rising junior from East Falls.