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SCCF Joins with University of the South for Philanthropy Project

The University of the South will expand its current partnership with South Cumberland Community Fund (SCCF) to develop a program that gives Sewanee students the opportunity to learn first-hand about community-based philanthropy. Working through the Office of Civic Engagement (OCE), the two organizations are initiating a Community Partnership Philanthropy Internship, also known as CPPI, thanks to a major gift received by the University to support the Office of Civic Engagement and to develop student philanthropy.

“This project adds a new dimension to the programs currently available in the Office of Civic Engagement,” said professor Jim Peterman, OCE’s director. “Already our students can participate in outreach trips, community-based learning and internships with partners across the region. Now they will be able to learn about philanthropy by observing South Cumberland Community Fund’s grant-making program and then using their knowledge to make grants on their own.”

SCCF has conducted an annual grant program on the Plateau since 2012, investing more than $450,000 in nonprofit organizations on the Mountain. As part of the CPPI, a selected group of Sewanee students will be introduced to issues in philanthropy through readings, visits and local speakers. They will then shadow SCCF’s Grants Committee as it reviews and evaluates proposals in the spring.

SCCF’s maximum grant amount is currently $10,000. CPPI will allow the possibility for an organization to receive up to $20,000 in support. Organizations that receive funding from SCCF in May will be invited to submit a related proposal to CPPI in the fall. Working with SCCF staff, CPPI will have up to $30,000 a year to award in grants.

“We believe this is an excellent way to expand the funds available to our community partners and an opportunity for SCCF to share what it has learned about grant-making on the Plateau,” said Margaret C. Woods, SCCF board chair. “We are delighted to partner with the University and are grateful that they want to invest in the community in this new and innovative way.”

The application process for students is underway. Beginning in January, the students selected for CPPI will learn about the history of philanthropy, learn about different types of charitable giving, and learn from guest speakers. They will attend SCCF’s grant information sessions to learn about proposal writing and observe SCCF’s Grants Committee as it deliberates. In the fall, CPPI will review the invited proposals and make recommendations to SCCF’s board for grants that will be awarded in November.

“This is a unique opportunity to engage students’ interest and participation in philanthropy by embedding them into the process of evaluating and making grants funds to nonprofit organizations right here in our community,” Peterman said.

CPPI expands an already existing and vibrant partnership that was started in 2014 when the University and South Cumberland Community Fund joined in an application for Americorps/VISTA. Nicky Hamilton currently serves at both organizations: as Senior Associate Director of Civic Engagement at the University and as Director of Capacity Building for SCCF, through which she oversees the VISTA program and capacity building work for SCCF.

Established in 2012, South Cumberland Community Fund works to improve the quality of life across the Plateau by increasing philanthropy and supporting leadership of the area’s communities, schools, and nonprofit organizations. It works to ensure that the Plateau is a place of hope and prosperity for all its residents and communities. 

For more information about the Office of Civic Engagement go to


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