Notre Dame philanthropy class assists Michiana nonprofits

Twenty-four students in Notre Dame’s Philanthropy and the Common Good course are picking several Michiana non-profit organizations to award grants. The course receives $50,000 to $70,000 each fall, and students act as a board of directors to research organizations to receive the funds.

Philanthropy and the Common Good is offered in the fall semester by the political science department, the Hesburgh program in public service and the constitutional studies minor. The course is designed to teach the history and importance of philanthropy in the U.S. through an experiential learning style.

Current students say they appreciate the class’s immersive approach. 

“It’s one of my favorite classes I have ever taken,” senior Rachel Stockford said. “Especially as a senior being able to be involved in the communities.”

Sophomore Liam Redmond said the class was a good opportunity for him to expand his boundaries as a student.

“It’s a great avenue to get out of the Notre Dame bubble and really serve people. It’s been my favorite class and so rewarding,” he said.

The non-profits chosen by the class address a range of causes. St. Margaret’s House and United Religious Community in South Bend are two organizations they have been in communications with this semester.

“It’s clear how much of a variety in these different nonprofits there are, whether it’s food related or people related,” Redmond said. 

The students work in groups and each research two organizations. They must conduct one in-person site visit and one virtual interview to gather adequate information that can be reported back to the class. 

“It’s a very unique experience to be able to go out to these and see what these nonprofits are like,” Redmond said. 

Afterwards, the class reviews the organizations’ funding requests and holds two to three board meetings as a class to make their final decisions. 

Grants will be given to three to five charities at an award ceremony scheduled for December. The minimum grant amount the course awards is $5,000 and the maximum is $20,000. Last year’s recipients included the Youth Service Bureau, Motels4Now, Cultivate Food Rescue, Center for Community Justice and A Rosie Place for Children.

The 2022 sponsors for the course include The Philanthropy Lab (a Texas based program that sponsors similar programs nationally), Notre Dame public affairs, the de Nicola Center, Center for Citizenship and Constitutional Government and Brian Hegarty, class of 1976. 

Jonathan Hannah, who has taught the course since it was first offered in 2019, said he expects the “fall class will award just over $50,000.”

It will be offered in fall 2023 for its fifth year, and Hannah expects to be teaching it again. 

“We have so many amazing nonprofits in the Michiana area, and the students always put in a great deal of effort to ensure that these grants advance the common good in our community,” Hannah said in an email to The Observer. 

Supporting the Michiana area, Redmond said, is important and necessary work.

“There are people really struggling only miles away from campus, and they really need our help,” he said. “They need our funding, and they need our support.”

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El Campito to host third annual Taco Battle fundraiser

El Campito Child Development Center, a bilingual early childcare center in South Bend, will host its third annual Taco Battle fundraiser featuring local vendors on Tuesday.

The event will be hosted at two United Federal Credit Union locations on Ireland Rd. South Bend and Main St. in Mishawaka from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. In the evening, the event will be hosted at El Campito in South Bend from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m.

A $10 ticket gets tacos from local vendors and the ability for attendees to vote for their favorite. The flyer for the event states that the revenue will work to “promote the educational, social and economic success of culturally diverse children and their families at El Campito.”

Two El Campito students pose with plush tacos. / Courtesy of Aleyna Mitchell.

Aleyna Mitchell, director of development and community outreach for El Campito, noted that the fundraiser will include much more than just tacos.

“The night event is great because it’s for the whole family. It’s not just … you come in, you eat, you leave … it’s a party,” Mitchell said.

The event is El Campito’s largest annual fundraiser and helps the center support its families.

“We serve [primarily] Latino families,” Mitchell said. “It’s in our nature as a bilingual center … Low-income, sometimes non-English speaking families are our main base that we provide for.”

El Campito’s curriculum is taught in both Spanish and English, and it is “the only licensed, NAEYC accredited bilingual child development center in Northern Indiana,” according to their website.

Shelley Pulaski, board member and treasurer for El Campito, stressed the financial importance of the fundraiser for the organization.

“What’s so crucial about this fundraiser for El Campito is it gives us unrestricted funds that we can spend on our institution,” Pulaski said.

The money raised in the Taco Battle will be put towards a new HVAC unit as well as other technological improvements for the almost 100-year-old facility.

“This is where the Taco Battle is so important,” Pulaski stated. “It gives us the ability to improve the [building] quality for the children … to [install] air purifiers, better Wi-Fi, all the electronics that are needed in this day and age.”

Tatiana Botero, teaching professor of Spanish at Notre Dame and El Campito board member, teaches a community-engaged learning class that gives her students the opportunity to document the immigration stories of many El Campito families.

For students who are not involved in Botero’s project, the Taco Battle gives the tri-campus the opportunity to become involved in and gain a greater awareness of the South Bend community. Students will also be able to learn more about possible volunteer opportunities with El Campito.

“I always want to encourage my students to try to break the walls of a classroom and be able to experience what’s happening in the classroom outside, not just on the campus of Notre Dame but also in the greater South Bend area,” Botero said.

Contact Caroline Mereness at