Flash philanthropy wows crowd at commencement

Communities / Article

It’s not often you get to witness an experiment that you know will make a difference in your community. Tonight, at Queens University of Charlotte, I had just that opportunity.

Eric Newton, senior adviser to the president of Knight Foundation, was the Commencement speaker for the 2013 Hayworth College and Graduate Schools at Queens.

He had this idea to give flash philanthropy a try. Here’s how it worked: three nonprofits delivered persuasive testimonials in short videos, making a case for funding and then the students used their cell phones to text their votes on which project should get the support. The surprise kick: all three of the nonprofits will get grant dollars of different levels based on the recommendations of the graduates. The organizations include  – Communities in SchoolsGoodwill of the Southern Piedmont and Loaves and Fishes.

Queens was the perfect setting for this experiment in flash philanthropy.

For one thing, Queens has commitment to giving back to the community. Last year alone, students logged 80,000 hours of community service. And its Knight School of Communication is laser-beam focused on digital media literacy. It wants to end the digital divide that makes some people second-class citizens by helping the city’s residents better understand, create, share and act on information in cyberspace.

That’s exactly what these students did tonight when they used their phones to help feed, employ and educate their fellow residents.

I hope the students remember this night of media literacy and flash philanthropy. I certainly will.

Congratulations to all!

By Susan Patterson, program director/Charlotte

The full transcript of Eric Newton’s speech “A Noble Life in the Digital Age” is available online.