New Sillerman Prize gives philanthropy a boost on campus

Competition aims to nurture innovation in philanthropy

Why do people give? What would it take to increase philanthropy among university students? How can we develop programs to engage students directly in philanthropy?

The Sillerman Center for the Advancement of Philanthropy at Brandeis University’s Heller School has decided the best way to answer these questions—and jumpstart philanthropy on college campuses—is to launch a competition with thousands of dollars in prize money and the potential for more funding to get the winning idea off the ground at Brandeis.

The center will award up to $8,000 in prizes to up to three Brandeis University student-led teams that offer the best plan to build a culture of giving on college campuses or create innovative strategies that increase student philanthropy. The winning team will receive $5,000 and if other quality plans are submitted, two runners-up may each receive $1,500 in cash.

“Increasing knowledge of effective philanthropy, and interest in it, is consistent with the underpinnings of social justice at Brandeis University, and vital at this moment in history when the scales of need and giving in society are becoming even less balanced,” said Claudia Jacobs, director of capacity building at the Sillerman Center and prize manager.

The competition requires contestants to form teams of students from at least two of the following Brandeis schools or organizations: undergraduates, the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences; the Heller School of Social Policy and Management; the International Business School; Rabb School of Continuing Studies; Brandeis Osher Lifelong Learning Institute, and the Brandeis National Committee. Brandeis faculty may provide consultation, but are not eligible to be team members.

The competition is designed to bring together teams of students and older generations in the Brandeis community with diverse backgrounds and interests. “Connecting all the constituencies of the Brandeis community is critical to the success and innovation we hope to create,” said Jacobs. “Just as community service and service learning spread across college campuses, fresh ideas created in this competition have the potential to spawn a movement as well.”

The Sillerman Prize for Innovations in Philanthropy will launch with a series of informational workshops. The first workshop will be held Friday, September 25, 2:30-4:00 p.m., in Heller Room 163, in the Heller/Brown building. For more information about the competition, eligibility, and rules, please visit the Sillerman Center Web site or contact Claudia Jacobs at

Return to the BrandeisNOW homepage