Having now completed its fourth semester at Chapman University, the Panther Experiential Philanthropy Project (PEPP) has grown over the last year and half in terms of size and scope. By aligning fieldwork assignments with course learning outcomes, PEPP exposes students to the work going on in the nonprofit sector. It offers Chapman students the opportunity to become grant makers and address some of the most urgent issues facing Orange County communities and nonprofits.

Focus on Anti-racism and Black Communities

This fall, Chapman courses embedding PEPP fieldwork assignments and projects focused on social justice issues, particularly looking at nonprofits that support anti-racism efforts and serve Black and other marginalized communities. The PEPP program was incorporated into three sections of Attallah College of Educational Studies’ Integrated Educational Studies (IES) courses (IES 103: Philosophy of Helping and IES 315: Non-Governmental Organizations) and Schmid College of Science and Technology’s ENV 350: Corporate Sustainability Management course.

Whitney McIntyre Miller, Ph.D., associate professor of leadership studies and PEPP co-director, said the goal for the Fall 2020 PEPP program was to give Chapman students the opportunity to increase their awareness: “By researching organizations that address these issues in meaningful and practical ways, students can gain deeper understanding of the Black Lives Matter movement and anti-racist work.”

Mackenzie Crigger, instructor of Schmid College’s ENV 350 course, found the Fall 2020 PEPP program focus a good fit for her course and it’s goals.

“One of the driving reasons Schmid College started teaching a course on corporate sustainability was to help students understand that a business can do well, but can also do good in the community,” said Crigger. “Being able to connect with the PEPP program really helped us bring that home: sustainability is not just environmental sustainability; it’s social sustainability and human sustainability.”

Fall 2020 Grant Awards

A total of $7,000 was awarded to four organizations during the end of semester PEPP presentation in December 2020:

Two of the organizations are less than a year old. The OC Justice Project was founded in January 2020 by Arush Mehrotra, a senior at University High School in Irvine, California. Intersectional Environmentalist was founded by Chapman alumna Leah Thomas ‘17, who is an environmental activist and author of the Vogue magazine article “Why Every Environmentalist Should Be Anti-Racist.”

“We learned so much about the intricacies of the nonprofit sector,” said Allie Persing ’21, a student in the IES 315 course led by Attallah College Assistant Professor Jorge Rodriguez, Ph.D. “Our goal was to use all we’ve learned so far to select a local organization that we feel embodies social service and social change, solidarity in the community, and working with individuals from an empowerment lens.”

“My students engaged in an assignment that will have a real impact in the community,” said Dr. Rodriguez. “This money will directly impact anti-racism in Orange County, and that’s powerful.”

Combined, Chapman students in PEPP courses have distributed more than $15,000 in grant awards to Orange County nonprofits.


The Chapman PEPP and its courses are supported by Chapman University and private funds. To support PEPP, contact Alisa Driscoll or visit the PEPP Support webpage.