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Damus Board students

Hands-on learning about giving

Damus Board

About the Damus Board

The Damus Board is a philanthropic project, fully funded by individual donors, that supports the development of ethical business leaders working for the common good. Students selected to be a part of the Damus Board collaborate to award funds to nonprofit organizations invited to apply for the grant. The Board has awarded over $25,000 per year to nonprofits in our community.

Students on the Board engage in professional development activities and learn consensus decision-making strategies. They work together to create an application and evaluation criteria for the organizations, visit and interview finalists, select the awardees, and host a celebratory awards event.

In recent years, the Damus Board has funded organizations working to address racial inequities in our community. As part of its decision-making process, the Board decides how to further focus this goal to support racial justice.

Student Process

Applications available annually each August
Student application deadline mid-September

Nonprofit Process

Application invitations sent mid-November
Application deadline mid-December
Selective site visits in late February/early March
Award notifications by late March

Damus Board video

Developing Advocacy Skills

Experience the unique opportunities of serving as a board member and participating in philanthropy as a student at St. Thomas. The Damus Board awards grants to local non-profit organizations.

Quick Facts

program alumni
granted to non-profits
unique boards since 2009

Featured Damus Board Alums

Luca Arcuria

Luca Arcuria

Classes that center around operations, communication, and negotiation provide essential knowledge, but learning to apply this knowledge in a practical environment can be challenging. In this way, the Damus Board is a fantastic initiative that not only benefits the organizations, but the board members as well!

Sophie Zwak

Sophie Zwak

I think the best way to learn about racial injustice is by hearing from people about their experiences. I will never know what it is like to be a black person in the United States, and as much as I can read and research historic events, the most important way to see what needs to be changed is by discovering how the lives of people today in my own community are being affected and learning how I can help.

Jordyn Odagwe

Jordyn Odagwe

I am a strong believer that no matter what the issue or problem is, it can be worked out through communicating. I do not shy away from conflict; I face it head on, because I recognize that conflict is simply two people who are seeing the situation from different perspectives. The Board requires having difficult conversations about racial inequality that may be uncomfortable for some, so it is important that there can be open and honest dialogue.

Adam Morris

Adam Morris

Serving on the Damus Board is a unique opportunity that cannot be found anywhere else within St. Thomas. It’s an opportunity to learn more about how to approach nonprofits and be able to engage in an intellectual conversation with them about their needs. Knowing that I can make a difference in a major way because of my involvement in this program—building lasting connections to continue in my philanthropic efforts in my life—is irreplaceable.

Jennifer Nieto

Jennifer Nieto

I have seen first-hand what it takes to positively change someone’s life. I have seen the power of unconditional support and believing in someone’s potential. Growing up in a low-income community, I met leaders who showed me their unconditional support by investing their time and resources. Through this opportunity, my hope is to be that same kind of leader.

Charles Schwinck

Charles Schwinck

Every business has a social responsibility to create a better tomorrow. Regardless of the career path I find myself in a few years from now, I would like to have more complete knowledge of how businesses and non-profits can make a direct impact in the undoing of centuries of injustices.

Community Impact

Here’s what some recent nonprofit Damus Award recipients have said about the process:

Rae Wood, The Family Partnership

“We were inspired and energized working with the students of the Damus Board, who approached this process with thoughtful questions, curiosity, and a clear vision of how they wanted to make a difference in our communities. We work with many funders and grant-making organizations, and were blown away by the Damus Board students’ professionalism, organization, and passion!”

Joshua Crossen, EdAllies

“The Damus Award selection process was one of the most rewarding and meaningful processes I've ever experienced as a nonprofit leader.”

Terre Thomas, Small Sums

“We are still glowing from last night's event. It is a rare thing to have a grant award come with such a nice honoring ceremony. You all are marvelous and we are honored to be among such a great set of other nonprofits. The Damus Award program is so cool and it clearly blesses everyone involved.”