The MasterCard Foundation Scholars at Michigan State University are committed to giving back. Throughout the year, Scholars volunteer at places like Nyaka AIDS Orphans Project where they provide support for the annual fundraising drive. Locally, Scholars have spent time at the Hunter Park GardenHouse of the Allen Neighborhood Center, where they worked in the greenhouse and helped to prepare garden beds for winter planting.
The MasterCard Foundation Scholars are being equipped with skills that will help them continue their acts of service even after they graduate from MSU. The MasterCard Foundation Scholars Day of Service – in unison with the Spartan Day of Service – is a recurring event that happens every October. The Spartan Day of Service is an MSU tradition, organized and upheld by the university's Center for Service-Learning and Civic Engagement, an establishment that works to "advance community engaged learning at Michigan State University and prepare students for lifelong civic and social responsibility in an increasingly diverse and complex global society." Each year The MasterCard Foundation Scholars also dedicate themselves to service on Martin Luther King, Jr.’s Day of Service where they provide support to such places as the Greater Lansing Food Bank or the Red Cross. In July, the Scholars again organize service activities in support of Mandela Day, an international day that honors Nelson Mandela.
As an added benefit, many studies have demonstrated ways that ‘giving back’ can actually benefit a volunteer personally just as much as their community. The Corporation for National and Community Service published research that revealed that volunteerism was an effective way to increase one’s odds of finding employment. Additionally, a 2013 UnitedHealth Group study found that volunteering makes employees feel better physically, emotionally, and mentally. An astounding 76% of participants said that volunteering made them feel healthier and 94% said that volunteering improved their mood.
Considering the holistic and reciprocal benefits that giving back has on our Scholars and communities, we can ill afford to understate its priority in our program. MasterCard Foundation Scholars are expected to have a tradition of service in their home communities as a pre-requisite to their application. During their required internships, Scholars must also dedicate time to community service. That spirit of service is promoted on MSU’s campus in congruence with the values of the larger student body, and it continues with a commitment to return to the African continent and serve their home country after graduation.