Can You Teach College Students To Be Charitable?

(Here is a story I did for the WAMU 88.5, a Washington D.C., NPR member station. The radio version of story here.)

My human services class presents a check to Brainy Camps. (Photo Credit: Tyler Daniels)

GWU human services class presents a check to Brainy Camps. (Photo Credit: Peter Konwerski)

By: Tyler Daniels
May 23, 2014

Washington, D.C., has the highest concentration of nonprofit organizations in the country — over 12,000 of them. Many of these nonprofits compete with each other for a limited amount of funding from foundations of all shapes and sizes.

Students at the George Washington University Human Services Program are experiencing nonprofit philanthropy in a different way. In a class taught by Dr. Peter Konwerski, students learn about the grant giving process, and local nonprofits reap the benefits.

The Human Services Program at GWU is an interdisciplinary major. “The goal of it is to produce future citizen leaders. This class is [the students’] senior capstone”. Konwerski says.

Ultimately, Konwerski says, the class ran a grant competition which ran about six weeks and collected 25 grants — the board group manages the selection of the grantees and also the allocation of the funding.

Through funding from the Learning by Giving Foundation, students allocated $10,000 in grant funding to local nonprofit organizations. The students set up their own foundation, sent out a request for proposals, created evaluation criteria and invited back eight of 25 applicants back for a final presentation to the class “board”.

On a Wednesday night at the University, representatives from all eight nonprofits invited back waited in the hallway to give an eight minute presentation to the class board.

Elizabeth Doherty from Keen DC, which provides recreational opportunities to people with developmental and physical disabilities, was the first presenter. She told the class about what makes KEEN, “different and unique” from other nonprofits.

Later on, Dan Hoagland from The Washington Area Bicyclist Association tried a different strategy — asking questions of the class.

“How many of you guys know how to ride a bicycle?,” Hoagland asked, at which point all the students raised their hand. “How many of you were taught by that person how to ride on city streets?” This time only three students raised their hands. “Nobody in this country is taught how to ride a bike on city streets as a child,” Hoagland said.

The Washington Area Bicycle Association wants to teach low-income, urban kids how to safely ride a bicycle in an urban environment.

Andrea Stark from Playworks asked the students to get up and play a game, called Roshambo Rockstar. It is basically a tournament of Rock Paper Scissors. The class board played the game for two minutes and afterward appeared re-energized and excited.

“Kids need that kind of break in their day too”, Stark said. That’s why she is working to bring more games to D.C. schools at recess.

After the presentations, the class board discussed the pros and cons of each organization. The class agreed to give funding to four of the eight finalists: Keen DC, Playworks, Common Good City Farm and Brainy Camps.

From this experience, college students gained nonprofit foundation experience, while the local organizations gained funding. For Konwerski this was exactly the goal.

“I think the nonprofits are taken a little aback when they actually see the professionalism of the students.” Konwerski said. “At the end of the day they’re running the most professional process possible to support nonprofits in the Washington area.”

The organizations which applied for the funding supported the teaching initiative as well. Elizabeth Doherty from Keen DC, said “I love that [teaching philanthropy] is becoming more prominent on college campuses and that more people are thinking about it and realizing: yes, they can be philanthropists but they also can have careers in the nonprofit sector.”

George Washington University and its neighbor Georgetown are among three dozen colleges and universities across the country offering these sorts of philanthropy classes. And the Learning by Giving Foundation offers an online version, open to anyone in interested in learning how to give.

GWellness Foundation Grant Winners:

GWellness Foundation Grant Finalists

Music: “Philanthropy Intermission” by Audible Lab Rats from Project Philanthropy


An audio Profile of Foggy Bottom, D.C

(Here is a story I did for WAMU 88.5, a Washington D.C., NPR Member Station. The radio version of the story is here at 1:30)

A view of Foggy Bottom from the Washington Monument (Photo Credit: Tyler Daniels)

A view of Foggy Bottom from the Washington Monument (Photo Credit: Tyler Daniels)

By: Tyler Daniels

February 28, 2014

Dixie Woodard moved to Foggy Bottom in 2000 after 21 years overseas.

“Being a retired professor, I found my neighbors to be retired professors as well. So it was a mixture of retired professors and students and some young professionals — young people,” she says.

She says Foggy Bottom — just about a block from the Watergate and a couple of blocks from the Kennedy Center — is a historic district with “beautiful trees.”

“People take pride in their yard and sit on their steps and in their yards. So you know people up and down all the blocks. If I really needed something, I’ve got people I could call anytime – night or day.”

Even though Foggy Bottom is in the heart of the city, Woodard says it has very little crime.

“Both the GW police and the D.C. Police patrol the streets all the time,” she says.

“After all these years of living here we are so lucky that we found this place. I love Foggy Bottom.”

Music: “No, Girl” by John Davis from Title Tracks


Remembering Veteran Journalist Jack Germond –

(Here is a story I did for the NBC’s Meet the Press blog, press pass. The NBC version of story here.)

By: Tyler Daniels

Publication Date: August 13, 2013

Jack Germond on Meet the Press (Photo Credit: NBC Press Pass Blog)

Jack Germond on Meet the Press (Photo Credit: NBC Press Pass Blog)

Jack Germond, a longtime political reporter for the Baltimore Sun, died this morning at age 85. During his 50 year journalism career Germond gained notability through his political columns, campaign books, memoirs and regular appearances on Sunday talk shows like Meet the Press. Germond’s career started at the Monroe, Michigan Evening News and he served as a reporter for the Rochester Times-Union. He was later a Washington Bureau Chief for Gannett Newspapers and finally became a reporter and eventual columnist at the Baltimore Sun. Over the years Germond gained a reputation as a candid and cynical columnist as well as a legendary political horse race handicapper.

Germond made 39 appearances on Meet the Press.

He was a regular commentator for Spivak as well as for MTP moderators Bill Monroe and Tim Russert. He appeared alongside notable guests such as Senator George McGovern, President George H.W. Bush , Governor Nelson Rockefeller , Senator Bob Dole, Senator Robert Byrd and Sargent Shriver. Germond made his last appearance on the program on July 11, 2004 with Tim Russert. Watch Germond’s entire appearance above during the 2000 campaign when he memorably said, “Why do we have to be theater critics?” when asked about Al Gore’s performance on television.