University of Wisconsin-Madison

270 Bridges Built by The StartUp Learning Community

We couldn’t be more pleased to have had the opportunity to get to know the 15 students at the University of Wisconsin as Legacy Philanthropy Group facilitated their Hands On! Philanthropy workshop as part of their MHR-321 Social Entrepreneurship class. The StartUp Learning Community at UW-Madison is comprised of around 60 freshman who live together on one floor of a dormitory based on their shared interest in entrepreneurship. These students live together and study together, creating bonds that often last well beyond their years at the university. During each semester there is a class offered exclusively for the StartUp Learning Community students. The spring class on Social Entrepreneurism  introduces students to the key concepts of starting and running a socially-engaged business and demonstrates how entrepreneurial approaches can serve to increase effectiveness in the nonprofit sector. 


Professor John Surdyk teaches the MHR-321 class and acts as a UW School of Business advisor to the StartUp students. He also runs the annual Business Plan Competition at the Wisconsin School of Business which provides students an opportunity to develop and pitch a startup idea to a panel of outside judges. John recognized that the Hands On! Philanthropy workshop would be a perfect complement to the spring class curriculum – building on many of the entrepreneurial instincts that brought these students together in the first place. 


During the workshop, the students explored key concepts around strategic philanthropy, learned about the power of purposeful philanthropy, and refined key personal and professional skills like communication, collaboration, decision making, storytelling, and the sharing of values. They were challenged to understand and articulate what social causes really matter to them and why. And in the end, they sought out nonprofits that shared their vision and presented Dream Big Community Impact Awards to the nonprofit partners they selected.


Congrats are in order for the three Dream Big Community Impact Award recipients:

These worthy organizations received a significant grant and were all participants in the final celebratory session on May 2, 2018.


Hats off again to the students, Professor John Surdyk, and the three terrific nonprofits who participated in the workshop. We look forward to another engaging program next spring!


Bridges Built = (14 Colleagues + 3 Nonprofits + 1 Sponsor) x 15 Participants = 270

Download the Case Study

Read more about this extraordinary group of students and their journey to becoming Purposeful Philanthropists!  


The case study contains some great quotes from Professor Surdyk, the nonprofit award recipients, the students and Jay Weisman, who facilitated the workshop.

Download