Do you know what a “foundation” is? Have you thought about preparing to work for one? Or to lead one? Or maybe, even, to start one?
Foundations are businesses of a special type. They earn money from investments, or in some cases from donations, and spend their earnings doing good works in the world. Frequently entrepreneurs create foundations with their accumulated wealth in order to give back to society. Operating under special regulations and tax status, foundations designate the special charitable causes they wish to promote. Typically, a foundation will request from agencies, schools and qualified individuals proposals to achieve specific objectives. The foundation accepts some proposals, pays for the activities proposed, and thus gets other people to work to achieve the foundation’s aims. Believe it or not, spending money to achieve results that serve the foundation’ mission is a difficult and exacting task. It offers all the challenges of ordinary commerce while serving ends beneficial to society. This is good work!
Foundations are great targets for liberal arts job-seekers. They require program officers and staff who have great people skills and who are endlessly curious, broadly educated, quick-studies. Furthermore, the foundations industry is booming. Yet, most liberal arts students have not explored the possibilities here and many are simply unaware of the foundations world.
The WISE Foundation offers Beloit students the opportunity to learn about foundations by running their own. The WISE (What is Social Excellence?) Foundation is a continuing unit of CELEB. Its mission is to investigate the elements of a truly good society, one that would offer joy and fulfillment to its members. Defining the nature of the good society is a task not soon to be completed but the quest is one that all liberal arts students take seriously. WISE may promote panel presentations of various experts, engage students and others in careful discussion, commission white papers on particular topics, bring entrepreneurs and students together for sessions to promote values-clarification, or write proposals to real-world foundations to support such activities. While WISE staff work to shed light on what makes social life good, they also research the industry and visit the executives of actual foundations so as to learn about this special corner of the business world.