Tisch Council for Philanthropic Leadership announces fundraising plans

Barnum Hall, home of Tisch College, is pictured on April 20, 2018. Rachel Hartman / The Tufts Daily Archives

The Tisch Council for Philanthropic Leadership has received approval from the Jonathan M. Tisch College of Civic Life and the university to fundraise for this year’s grant focus: racial equity in education. The goal of TCPL is to support organizations that have 501(c)3 recognition or operate under a fiscal agent and that serve in Medford, Somerville, Chinatown or Fenway/Mission Hill.

According to Julia Proshan, co-president of TCPL, the group’s mission statement for this year’s focus is “to support organizations that empower youth of color, particularly young women [and] to seek equitable treatment in their holistic educational experiences.”

Proshan, a junior, explained the processes the council underwent to narrow its grant-making scope.

“Last semester, the Council participated in an exercise where we nailed down our collective interests and values,” Proshan wrote in an email to the Daily. “In this exercise, each member filled out a form and selected the three issue areas they were most interested in … after selection, we each wrote our issue areas and values on a virtual whiteboard, tallying [where] there was overlap.”

Proshan said that the three most popular issue areas were racial equity, women’s empowerment and youth development, from which council members developed the impact area and mission statement.

With the grant focus in place, TCPL’s goal is to eventually select a specific organization to donate the proceeds of its fundraising efforts. According to Tisch College’s official description of the organization, TCPL “function(s) as a foundation board that allocates funding to nonprofits in Tufts’ surrounding communities.” In addition to its grant-making efforts, the council also “organizes service projects, coordinates a philanthropic leadership speaker series, and promotes conversations about the social sector.”

Gus Robinson is co-president alongside Proshan. Both Robinson and Proshan explained that they are looking for programs that do one or more of the following: facilitate interactions between educational institutions and students of color, provide resources that help promote equitable educational environments, emphasize anti-racism training for educators and develop new approaches to disciplinary action.

There are also a number of evaluative questions TCPL uses to consider candidates. Robinson provided an update as to where they are in this process.

“Currently, we have narrowed down our selection pool to six organizations and are evaluating each based on their mission/vision, financial health, and past success, among other factors,” Robinson, a sophomore, wrote in an email to the Daily.

The selection process will culminate with a council ranked-choice vote. 

“For each organization, council members will vote on the criteria … rank[ing] the organization on a scale of 1 to 5,” Proshan said. “In terms of mission criteria, they select which of the bullet points the organization fulfills.”

She also noted that TCPL has been reaching out to its potential finalists to determine how they would use the grant money. 

From 2017–19, TCPL received funding from the Highland Street Foundation. 

“This support was a part of The Highland Street Foundation’s youth philanthropy initiative designed to empower young people to get involved with philanthropy,” Robinson said. “Each year, The Highland Street Foundation set aside $10,000 of its annual giving budget to be allocated by TCPL.”

However, Proshan explained, philanthropic foundations usually fund specific initiatives — like TCPL’s work — for only a limited number of years, so the Highland Street Foundation has moved on to other projects. This development means that TCPL is fundraising in a new way this year.

“We have been working through the approval process since Spring 2020 and are excited to have recently obtained permission from the University to fundraise through tuftsgiving.org. We will also be accepting checks through Tisch College,” Robinson said. “In addition to this approval process, we have also been busy preparing a promotional campaign to spread awareness about our work within our personal networks and amongst community partners.”

He added that in the coming weeks, the group will finish its selection process and will seek support from the greater Tufts community for the selected organizations. He noted that the fundraising and grant-making cycle should be completed before the end of the semester. 

“It’s definitely a learning-through-doing process that we’re going through,” Rebecca Qiu, director of grant-making for TCPL, said.

However, Robinson said he views the change as a positive opportunity to pivot to a new phase for the organization.

“We are excited to be pursuing more diverse funding sources going forward and are looking forward to using this opportunity to engage with the wider Tufts community while sharing the important work of the organizations we support,” Robinson said. 

Qiu expanded on how the new process has affected TCPL. 

“Through this period we’ve definitely learned that we’re a lot more resilient and flexible than we thought we were,” Qiu said. “I think it’s shown that we have the ability to do things we’ve never done before.”


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