Grantwell was founded in 2008 at Brigham Young University to address the joint needs of community donors, graduate students, and the Romney Institute. Graduate students needed real-world experiences, community donors needed fresh advice on practical giving solutions, and the Romney Institute wanted to increase in name-recognition and positive community relationships. With a board of directors com-posed of students and professionals and an executive team composed of students, Grantwell gives students the opportunity to be leaders in the public and social sector, and allows them to work with real nonprofits and foundations to gain valuable experience. Since Grantwell’s foundation, the program has given hundreds of students practical experience and has consulted on millions of dollars worth of grant allocation.
Students make Grantwell work. From top leadership to individual team members, each student plays a vital role. Choosing to be involved in Grantwell provides students with real opportunities to immediately apply what they are learning in the class-room.
Grantwell also works on behalf of clients. Large donors in the community willingly give students the opportunities to work on real philanthropic projects. In many cases, they sacrifice their time and share their expertise so that students have meaningful experiences.
Working together, students and clients create a mutually beneficial relationship that allows both parties to grow and flourish. The benefit to students is immediately apparent in the quality of the learning experience provided by real-world philanthropy. For their part, clients benefit by adding an entirely new layer to their impact. They continue to fund and develop worthy causes, but also prepare the rising generation of nonprofit leaders with a uniquely rich experience.
Because clients are also invested in students, there is a central guiding principle for Grantwell administrators: the student experience is paramount. Every decision should be viewed in this light. This fundamental perspective may require declining certain projects or, worse, letting students fail. Grantwell administrators may be tempted to take on a project for an impressive client, but that has little value for the students. The greater, and more insidious, temptation will be to take the work away from students for fear of disappointing the client.