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Season of miracles

Season of miracles

Michelle Tedford December 20, 2019

The hard work of four University of Dayton students has made it possible for more children on Dayton’s east side to build skills and realize dreams in a fun, creative and supportive environment.

The students were among 20 enrolled in the fall business writing course of adjunct instructor Tim Azbill who were split into teams tasked with writing grant proposals for five Dayton-area charities. Abzill evaluated the proposal of each team and decided on the grant written to benefit Dayton’s East End Community Services as the one to put forward to a local, private family foundation for consideration.

“Writing to request something — in this case money — represents a realistic scenario that most students will face in their professional careers,” said Azbill, who in the past has asked students to write proposals for a fictional $1 million donation. “The opportunity to help a charity as a result of a school project motivates the students to do well. In this class, the results showed as it is the best collection of proposals my students have turned in.”

Teacher plays the guitar while students sing and hugThe funders agreed, and the foundation granted East End $5,000 to support two elementary school-aged students to attend its Miracle Makers program at Ruskin PreK-6 Neighborhood School for an entire year.

Olivia Jez-Belden, a senior marketing major, learned her team proposal was funded as Christmas break was arriving. She said this assignment was unlike any opportunity she’d had previously.

“I knew that the more time and effort I put into it there would be a tangible and financial impact at the end,” she said. “In most classes, you write papers to have your professor read them and get a grade. But for this course, we worked the entire semester on improving our ability to write in a professional manner then used that information to support a real nonprofit in Dayton. I was able to dive deeper into the problem of the educational/achievement gap in Dayton through extensive research, which made this project even more meaningful.”

Students build on a Lego tableAdded teammate Grant Holland, “Knowing that we were making a difference made this less of an assignment and more of something that we wanted to do.” Holland is a junior double major in operations and management information systems. Other members of the capstone grant-writing team were junior Jessica Clark and senior Ryan Fox.

Miracle Makers provides after school English and math tutoring to struggling students. East End reports that greater than 90 percent of Miracle Makers’ participants demonstrate growth in both subjects.

This project provided an opportunity for students to use the power of writing to make a real difference in the community, said Azbill, who plans to continue this assignment in future classes.

“I look forward to helping students grow as writers and philanthropists,” he said.


Thanks to East End Community Services for the photos.

Photovoice project from Ruskin's Miracle Makers