UCI faculty and students gathered on April 2, 2019 for the “Learning to Give Back” Awards Ceremony to present donations to these Orange County nonprofit organizations: Project Kinship, The Wooden Floor, Latino Health Access, Mariposa, and #HashtagLunchbag.

Students chose the nonprofits as part of the course University Studies 10, Introduction to Civic and Community Engagement. The course is led by Dr. Victoria Lowerson Bredow and sponsored by ENO Brands— a jewelry manufacturing company whose Senior Special Projects Liaison, Ellen Chen, Chief Operating Officer, Stephanie Tsao, and Chief Strategy Officer, Kevin Tsao, a UCI alumni, all believe in giving back and want to instill this same drive in younger generations.

University Studies 10 is a core course for UCI’s Civic and Community Engagement minor, which “provides students with knowledge, skills, and opportunities to engage as citizens and community members in the 21st century,” according to its website. The course requires students to actively engage with philanthropy by researching nonprofit organizations and choosing which to support. The funds for the donations are generously provided by The Philanthropy Lab, an organization that aims to “spark and expand students’ interest and participation in philanthropy.”

The students selected these five nonprofit organizations:

Chancellor Howard Gillman, speaking at the awards ceremony, underscored the social importance of giving back to one’s community.

“It is deeply important that in addition to whatever work you’re doing on your own for yourself, your family and your friends, that you feel a sense of obligation to your neighbors, to your world, to do what you can to address the issues you feel strongly about,” he said.

“When you give that gift, you should feel as grateful for the opportunity to give that gift as the organization is to be receiving it. In the end, you should feel as though you’ve been given a gift.”

Celine Ton, a third year Biological Sciences major in the class, felt firsthand how fulfilling it can be to make a difference by giving a gift.

“To see how we took that money and actually created a change in a matter of 10

weeks, and to be able to evaluate that change in the years to come is something that’s

going to be really exciting for me,” she said.

Celine most appreciated the community-involved approach many of the nonprofits take.

“Medicine is a lot more than just biology, you know?” she said. “You have to have that community engagement aspect, and that’s what I learned from all the non-profits that we visited.”

“You can say you stand for a certain topic, but does that matter unless you’re engaging with your constituents?”

Charline Minifield, a graduating senior majoring in Criminology, Law, and Society and minoring in Civic and Community Engagement, was inspired by her experience with the course.

“Everyone in the class shared their projects, the stuff that they were passionate about,” she said, “and it really instilled something in me, instilled a passion that I hadn’t seen anywhere else.”

“It was amazing to think that, through this course, we had the privilege of connecting and pooling our knowledge, resources, and skills together to be advocates of change and support the hard workers of this community.”

For more, email Cherry Yip, Program Coordinator for the Civic and Community Engagement Minor.