2-minute read

United Way supports Ohio State Marion class in a big way

United Way of North Central Ohio visited The Ohio State University at Marion’s Guthery Community Room in Maynard Hall, Thursday, February 22nd to officially present a check for $5,000 to the campus’s Pay It Forward Project. 

Taught by Senior English Lecturer, Amy Tibbals, the Pay It Forward Project provides students in English 2367.01S course, entitled Language, Identity and Culture in the U.S. Experience, with the opportunity to oversee a competitive grant process all while meeting the goals and objectives of a second-level writing course.

The check was presented to Tibbals by United Way of North Central Ohio CEO, Amber Wertman. Since the partnership between Ohio State Marion and United Way began thirteen years ago, 350 students have participated in awarding upwards of $75 thousand to area non-profit organizations. According to Wertman this has been the best partnership. 

Head and shoulder of woman in blue blazer

“It is one that we feel is even more impactful because so many people are involved, especially the students, from fundraising to writing grants, test writing grants, reviewing applications for funding, and then also interviewing those folks,” said Wertman. 

Wertman feels the program is one-of-a-kind when it comes to providing a great student experience.

“This is an all-encompassing experience that students are not going to get anywhere else,” she said.  



“The partnership with Ohio State Marion is a win-win for us because they are already so supportive of United Way in our local community, and then getting to come in and talk with the students. You can’t get much better than that, so we appreciate it,” Wertman said.

Wertman explained, “students walk away from the Pay It Forward course with a better understanding of the community's needs, how local non-profits are trying to make a positive change in the community, and how each person can make a difference.” 

“They also understand the benefits and the responsibility of having to make tough funding decisions,” Wertman added. “Many students say it is an experience that they will remember longer than one semester.”

Tibbals shared that since United Way of North Central Ohio began as a community partner for Pay It Forward in 2013, they have annually connected students to the importance of giving back to the community. 

“Immediately, they saw the value in having students learn first-hand about philanthropy,” said Tibbals. “They have not only provided funding but have also provided us with use of their application materials and connections to their member organizations,” she added. 

“United Way of North Central Ohio enjoys working directly with our students, walking them through the grant process that mimics their own larger grant process for the community,” she said.



Tibbals explained, “The course gives community organizations a platform to share what they do with students not only with the hope of gaining financial support (a grant award), but also with the hope of gaining advocates for the work that they do. This directly connects to our university's educational mission to build engaged citizens.” 



Students involved in the program see the program as both a personal investment in rounding out their education and their first real eye-opening experience to the needs of the community.

Ohio State Marion business major, Keegan Retzler shared that the Pay It Forward course has given him tools he can carry into his future career.

“I’ve learned a lot about writing about how to write to different companies.  In the business world, I want to show them I am educated,” Retzler said. The class has shown him that Marion is a community where United Way helps a bunch of different organizations in the community and they try to make it a better place every year,” he added.

If you would like to make a donation to the Pay It Forward Program, visit https://buckeyefunder.osu.edu/project/40783 or contact Amy Tibbals at tibbals.3@osu.edu. Currently at 81% of their fundraising goal, the current campaign runs through March 4, 2024.