Denison Venture Philanthropy Club

Our purpose is to effect positive and meaningful change in the lives of others by increasing the capacity of local organizations. We accomplish this by:

Denison Venture Philanthropy Club students in 2011

  1. Investigating pressing community needs and learning about the organizations that attempt to address them.
  2. Training ourselves to make timely, effective, and well-administered philanthropic allocations to build in the capacity of local organizations.
  3. Offering stewardship and support through direct service to recipient organizations.

This blog is a project of three Venture Philanthropy Club members: Denison students from across the US that are spending the summer chronicling their experiences exploring a wide array of social change news, strategies, and stories. It is our intent that this blog (and the thoughtful work that goes into it) will support our organization’s ability to fulfill the purpose stated above. We hope that this blog proves to be a useful platform for sharing, interrogating, and applying ideas of use to VPC-ers– and to friends/readers (new and old) around the world.

The Denison Venture Philanthropy Club (VPC) is a campus organization at Denison University in Granville, Ohio (this blog is not managed by the University, though). Check out these documents that summarize the VPC story in 2011-2012:

Spring 2012 Community Brief (PDF)

“The $10,000 Question” Coverage in TheDEN

Investment History, 2008-2012 (PDF)

2012-2013 Request for Proposals (Proposals due Sept. 21, 2012)

 Our Process

In our Request for Proposals (RFPs– see link above), we invite Licking County, Ohio organization to identify the way they would use grant funds to build their capacity to serve the community. Students in the Club evaluate the proposals and conduct careful appraisals of the organizations in order to determine which we believe will optimize the use of the funds that we can make available.


In order to evaluate proposals in an informed way, we draw on college and community resources to learn more about the focal issue we’ve identified. Our process also requires us to develop and exercise the skills of analysis, advocacy and public presentation.

Once the recipient has been selected by the Club, we pledge twenty hours of support per club member, to assist the community organization with its project. Working alongside community partners allows us to steward our grant, to build relationships with community leaders, and to learn practical skills as we join the effort to create positive change.

The History

The DU Venture Philanthropy Club was formed in 2008-2009 through a generous gift from Denison alumnus David Kuhns (’68) and is maintained through the support of Mr. Kuhns and other supportive members of the Denison community. Our founding students were Fiona Baker, Lydia Boote, Brian Cox, Will Curto, Caitlin Fondessey, Rachel Mattingly, Steven Profitt, and Xerxes Unvala. Membership is open to the Denison community.

Since 2008, Denison VPC has contributed thousands of hours and tens of thousands of dollars to the Licking County, Ohio community. Previous recipients of Denison VPC capacity-building grants include: The Reading Foundation of Licking County, Pathways of Central Ohio, and the Licking County Coalition for Housing.

Denison VPC members regularly distinguish themselves on campus and beyond. Denison VPC counts several winners of the University’s highest honors among its ranks of current members and alumni (including 3 President’s Medalists and 7 Distinguished Leadership Award winners). This spring, VPC was honored both with the 2012 President’s Award for service learning excellence at Denison and as a Finalist in the national Sillerman Prize for Innovations in Philanthropy competition. VPC students have gone on to positions in the Fulbright program, Teach for America, the Peace Corps, consulting, banking, and community development, among other fields.


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