Murray State University Nonprofit Leadership Studies program presents Giving Back Endowment Grant to the Homeplace at Land Between the Lakes

By Elsie Kieffer | Dec 3, 2021

Giving Back Endowment check presentation

The Murray State University Nonprofit Leadership Studies program has presented the 2021 Giving Back Endowment Grant Award to the Homeplace at Land Between the Lakes in recognition of its long-term success in youth development across the community.

MURRAY, Ky. — The Murray State University Nonprofit Leadership Studies program has presented the 2021 Giving Back Endowment Grant Award to the Homeplace at Land Between the Lakes in recognition of its long-term success in youth development across the community.

Land Between the Lakes, also known as LBL, is a 170,000 acre National Recreation Area located in western Kentucky and Tennessee. LBL is a 40-mile long peninsula that was formed when the Tennessee River and Cumberland River were impounded, creating Kentucky Lake and Lake Barkley, respectively. On the north end of LBL, the lakes are connected by a mile-long canal. In 1963, President John F. Kennedy designated these federal lands as Land Between the Lakes National Recreation Area. The project was intended to demonstrate how an area with limited timber, agricultural resources and industrial resources could be converted into a recreation asset that would stimulate economic growth in the region. The Homeplace at Land Between the Lakes provides children and other family members important lessons regarding cultural history. The Homeplace focuses on educating visitors, including school groups from the surrounding area, about life on a 19th century farm. 

The grant is made possible by the Murray State University Giving Back Endowment, which is dedicated to advancing the understanding, appreciation and application of the principles of altruism, generosity, caring and service to others. The Student Engagement Initiative provides an opportunity to operate a comprehensive grant making process while studying “giving, philanthropy and grant making.” The students conducted a community needs assessment and identified youth development programs as required by the Giving Back Endowment.

Applications were reviewed with the following types of guiding criteria: the scope and scale of youth development programming, the qualifications and experience of the volunteers and staff and financial health and sustainability. After extensive deliberation and thorough review, the Homeplace at Land Between the Lakes was selected in recognition of its commitment to youth development. Students praised the application and the critical youth development work being done by the organization. 

Amy Levering of Murray, Kentucky, a student in the course, said this in regards to their decision: “The Giving Back Endowment is a wonderful opportunity that is given to local nonprofits in the Murray/Calloway County area. As a group, we collaborated together to compose an application that was shared with several nonprofits. It was interesting reading the applications that we received back. We held a ‘debate’ in class discussing the pros and cons of each application and afterward made a decision to award this grant to Land Between the Lakes. They will be using these funds to build a program that will highlight the Trail of Tears, which will be a major educational asset to this area." 

Sophomore Alissa Peal of Kingsport, Tennessee stated, “The Giving Back Endowment Grant is a great way to give Nonprofit Leadership students a hands-on learning opportunity. Not only do we write and create our application, but we review and choose who gets the grant. Land Between the Lakes created an incredible program that will bring to light the history of the Trail of Tears in our area. It will be a focal point for our community and the surrounding area for years to come.”

Luke Shultz, a sophomore nonprofit leadership studies major from Murray, Kentucky, stated in his assessment, “LBL’s application was well thought out and had met every requirement that our class thought was fitting for the grant. Growing up in Murray, I experienced how beneficial and knowledgeable LBL was to me as a youth, so I believe with The Giving Back Endowment, LBL will be able to have a greater impact on today's youth for tomorrow's future.”

Graduating Murray State senior Caitlyn Smith of Russellville, Kentucky added, “The Giving Back Endowment Grant is such a great way for non-profit students to get their hands-on experience and opportunities within the community, which is important during college years. It was interesting reading the applications we have received and being able to help Land Between the Lakes in making Trail of Tears come to life."

The award was presented on November 30 to the Homeplace at Land Between the Lake leadership. They received a $1,000 check from the Giving Back Endowment. Present to receive the award were Interim Executive Director John Rufli and Darrin Samborski, Environmental Education Specialist with Friends of Land Between the Lakes. 

Jim Taylor, Chief Operating Officer of Friends of Land Between the Lakes said, “We value our relationship with Murray State University and we are so grateful for the nonprofit leadership studies program’s efforts to support children and others within our extended community of influence.”

Dr. Elise Kieffer, who assumed the role of Program Director and Assistant Professor of Nonprofit Leadership Studies in July 2021 said, “The Giving Back Endowment initiative, made possible by the generosity of Dr. Robert and Mrs. Patricia Long, provides uniquely impactful benefits. Not only are students able to learn about the grant process in a personal, hands-on experience, but they are empowered with the emotional goodwill of giving and serving others through philanthropy. Likewise, local organizations benefit from the opportunity to submit their programs for potential funding. The GBE is a beautiful manifestation of the relationship between Murray State University and the Murray/Calloway community. It was really my honor to facilitate this experience for students in the Nonprofit Leadership Studies program."

The Nonprofit Leadership Studies Program is a part of the Department of Organizational Communication and Leadership which is dedicated to “develop student competence in the application and synthesis of those communication processes, theories and skills that enable individuals and groups to organize effectively in an increasingly complex and global society.” As a part of the Arthur J. Bauernfeind College of Business, the department and program are committed to advancing careers in dynamic environments of leadership and management.

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