BTN LiveBIG: Nebraska students learning by giving

A decade ago, Doris Buffet – Warren Buffet’s older sister – started the Learning by Giving Foundation. Her goal was to teach a new generation about philanthropy though experience, providing young people with the opportunity to learn about charity and make a financial impact on a worthy cause.

The University of Nebraska-Lincoln is part of a group of universities that utilize curriculum from The Learning by Giving Foundation. This past semester, a senior-level class titled “Leading People and Projects” was given $10,000 by the foundation with the charge to give it all away.

Over the past few months, the class evaluated 27 applications from organizations in the Lincoln, Neb. area. On Dec. 4, it awarded the $10,000 grant to a local organization, “Hear to Learn.”

“Hear to Learn” is a parent-initiated pilot program in Lincoln Public Schools. Founded by Beth Brady and Susan Stibal, two local parents, the program’s goal is to increase student learning by improving the classroom listening environment. Where students sit is critically important in how much they’re able to hear, and consequently, learn.

“This project has been a real testament to what people can do when they decide to truly collaborate,” said Brady, who is a speech-language pathologist. “We’ve worked with the Lincoln school community and the University of Nebraska to improve the classroom environment in our schools.”

The “Hear to Learn” organization is installing 150 classroom-amplification systems in local elementary schools for the 2013-14 school year. The systems consist of a main speaker with two microphones that project sound evenly across classrooms, allowing students to hear and learn no matter where they choose to sit.

The relationship between “Hear to Learn” and the university is deeper than the grant, though. Earlier this year, Brady and Stibel met with Dr. Sherri Jones, the Director and Department Chair at the Barkley Center at UNL.

“The Barkley Center is doing research so we can quantitatively look at the outcome for kids in the classroom and prove that they’re hearing – and learning – better,” said Brady. “It’s been a significant commitment from the university to our program.”

To learn more about the “Hear to Learn” organization, visit their Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/heartolearn

To learn more about the Learning by Giving Foundation, go to: http://www.learningbygivingfoundation.org/

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