York College shifting courses for new generation


York College has been taking notes on the younger generation.

The school has seen an influx of activists, go-getters and students who want to extract more than a GPA from their college experience, officials said, so they're shifting curriculum.

The college this fall introduced a course called Philanthropy, Social Impact and the Nonprofit Sector, co-taught by York College staff members Karin Swartz and Tom LaForgia and aimed at teaching students how to understand the nonprofit mission and generate community support for that mission.

Swartz said the course aims "to introduce the idea of philanthropy and how philanthropic dollars are used."

At the end of the semester, students will demonstrate what they have learned by giving $5,000 to the York community.

Giving money: At the beginning of September, Swartz and LaForgia brought in 15 local nonprofits to brief students on organizations, including Olivia's House, DreamWrights Youth and Family Theatre and the York County Community Foundation.

Students are to partner with one of the local nonprofits, communicating with the executive director, making site visits and immersing themselves in the organization's mission.

Throughout the semester, students will sit in on panels of local philanthropists who will discuss the production and impact of philanthropy.

At the end of the class, students will team up to decide which organization or organizations should receive $5,000 in grant money.

Connecting students: LaForgia said the class stands out because "the strategy is entirely organic and student-driven."

Swartz said York College President Pamela Gunter-Smith has worked to "increase the connection between York City and the college, impacting the local city and community," and her office partly funds the grant program.

"The millennial generation is so focused on philanthropy and giving back to the community. They look through a different lens," said Swartz.

She noted, though, that college students are vulnerable to grinding into the daily campus life, stepping from dorm to class to dining hall in the everyday trodden path.

She said the course will "connect students with everything the city has to offer."

A theater major might practice his passion at DreamWrights, or a student who has lost a loved one might find comfort in volunteering at Olivia's House, for example.

After meeting several of her incoming students, Swartz said, "Students are really excited and are very civic-minded people. They understand the importance of taking what they learn into their community."