Philanthropy and Academy

Academy students volunteer across all three divisions

9th graders prepared for families staying at the Ronald McDonald House.

From sorting food at Roadrunner Food Bank to volunteering at Locker 505, Albuquerque Academy’s students incorporate philanthropy into most aspects of their lives. Philanthropy is derived from two root words, philo and anthro. Philo means, “loving, fond of, tending toward, which comes from the Greek philos, meaning “dear, loved, beloved.” Anthro means “pertaining to human beings.”
Philanthropy is literally tending dearly toward fellow humans. Philanthropy can range from day-to-day acts to broader donations of time and/or money, such as picking up trash off the grass or contributing thousands of dollars to your local nonprofit. Passion and a commitment to service are all one needs in order to begin their journey in philanthropy. Here at Albuquerque Academy, students practice philanthropy beginning from their time in sixth grade to their senior year through our community service program.

One of the public service poster put together by a 8th grade advisory. (Courtesy of Amanda Busby)

As the 8/9 community service coordinator, Ms. Amanda Busby works with students at our school closely. “In 6-7 we mostly try to introduce students to what philanthropy is and what community service is, and we try to just introduce them very gently to what that means.” She explains that “A lot of them have this idea of when [their] toys are old and [they’re] not really interested in them anymore, or when [their] clothes are outgrown, [their] mom takes them to Goodwill. They have that kind of thought process…they have this seed of knowledge.” Ms. Busby and the 6-7 teachers work to instill community service habits through work in classes and the 6–7 community service project, which revolves around creating a website for a fictitious non-profit. in TechApps. Additionally, there are additional service projects for 6-7 students to participate in, such as collecting Christmas presents for children experiencing homelessness. Furthermore, in seventh grade, students partake in volunteering during WOW Week, a week dedicated to urban adventures.

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In the 8-9 division, students begin participating in more hands-on philanthropy, designing a physical poster instead of a website. “In eighth grade, we focused back on a project. When we introduced this to the eighth graders, we said, ‘Remember when you did this with Mrs. Geores in sixth grade?’ and they were all like ‘Oh yeah!’ They all remember it. This is kind of the next step,” Busby explained. Eighth graders create posters for non-profits, which at the end of the year can be given as gifts to the respective organizations. At the end of the year, there will be a symposium where they can view all of the posters. Ninth graders attend trips off campus, where they work with various non-profit organizations and spend time volunteering. Students go on a range of trips, from volunteering with students experiencing homelessness to working with homes for the elderly and sorting donations at local food banks. “The ninth grade trip was really beneficial because it helps community bond,” says Ashley Montoya ‘23.

Once students have reached the 10-12 division, they have matured as active philanthropists and begin an independent service project. Although the recent pandemic has thrown off the normal timeline, students typically begin their service projects in the fall of their junior year. This project provides students with an opportunity to follow their passions, while still being active members of their community. Halie Leland ‘23 spoke of her experience with her independent project, saying, “ For my commitment to service project, I did about fifteen hours of volunteering at a nursing home in town, the David Specter Shalom House. I helped with administrative work and any tasks that residents needed help with. It was a very special experience because a lot of elderly people in our community struggle with loneliness coming out of COVID, and getting to help make their lives a little bit better was a very sweet and grounding experience.” Ms. Busby commented upon the continuing importance of community service across grade levels, saying, “What’s awesome about that is what we hope to do at the Academy from sixth grade to twelfth is to build upon that experience. Just like we do with every other class, and what we do here.”

Philanthropy has become a day-to-day activity for many of the Academy’s students. Audrey Lee ‘23, a devoted philanthropist since sixth grade, even outside of Academy’s projects said,

For me philanthropy has really been important because it’s given me the opportunity to see different people’s lives through different perspectives, and it’s given me the opportunity to take all the fortunes that I have been given and offer opportunities to other people.

— Audrey Lee '23

Many Academy students feel similar to Audrey. Caiden Fine ‘23 captured the importance of community service and philanthropy by saying, “Philanthropy means thinking about someone, and not just thinking about yourself.” Philanthropy is very personalizable; students participate in diverse and unique ways. Although community service and philanthropy can mean different things to our students as individuals, they are an essential part of our community here at Albuquerque Academy.