From the 20th till 23rd of June 2019, UCI undergraduates Audrey Casas and Wendy Ruiz attended the Philanthropy Lab 2019 Ambassadors Conference in Dallas, Texas, where they earned $25,000 to support Project Kinship, a nonprofit organization that, according to its about page, aims to “provide support and training to lives impacted by incarceration, gangs, and violence through hope, healing, and transformation.”

The Philanthropy Lab is a program that seeks to increase student interest in philanthropy, primarily by providing them with actual philanthropic experience. The organization forms a partnership with a university, then funds the creation of a course on the benefits of philanthropy to be taught at the university.

At UC Irvine, that course is University Studies 10, a 10-week core course for UCI’s Civic and Community Engagement Minor. University Studies 10 is taught by Dr. Victoria Lowerson Bredow and sponsored by ENO Brands— a jewelry manufacturing company whose Chief Strategy Officer, Kevin Tsao, a UCI alumni, is passionate about philanthropy and wants to instill this same drive in younger generations.

During the Spring 2019 quarter, students enrolled in University Studies 10 researched local Orange County nonprofit organizations, then decided which to donate to with the funds provided by the Philanthropy Lab. These are the nonprofits they chose:

Each year, The Philanthropy Lab hosts an Ambassadors Conference, inviting each university partner to send two of their student Ambassadors as representatives. Representatives from some of the top universities in the country attended the conference to compete for a chance to win $25,000 in additional funds for their organization.

“The course and annual conference is a great experience for our students,” said Vice Provost for Teaching and Learning and Dean of Undergraduate Education, Michael Dennin. “This is another example of how active learning can help students gain practical applied knowledge, which is a wonderful thing and it really fits our current goals and traditions of being in partnership with the community.”

The students of UCI’s University Studies 10 class of Spring 2019 chose to send Audrey Casas, who graduated from UCI in June 2019 with a major in English and a minor in Civic and Community Engagement, and Wendy Ruiz, a third year majoring in Political Science and minoring in Civic and Community Engagement.

At the conference, Audrey and Wendy pitched the prospect of further funding Project Kinship to the other student ambassadors and, after a series of presentations and a phone call to Project Kinship, took 2nd place, earning $25,000 in additional funds for Project Kinship.

“I now know that there are many organizations working with philanthropic means to diminish inequity in the world, and if we just reach out we can make a difference…” said Audrey. “I am proud to have represented UC Irvine and helped support Project Kinship’s mission to transform the juvenile justice system in Orange County.”

“At the Ambassadors Conference, it was amazing to see how passionate people were about the nonprofits they were representing,” said Ruiz. “I am so glad that I received the opportunity to represent project kinship and sharing their work and mission with those who attended the conference. I was able to meet professors and students from different universities around the U.S. and learn about their experience in philanthropy.”

To learn more about UCI’s philanthropy course or to become a sponsor, email UCI’s Associate Director of Development, Matthew Princetta at or call him at (949) 824-2974.