Real estate investors C.T. “Sparkey” & Merrie Beckham from Park Cities Baptist Church in Dallas received the Russell H. Perry Free Enterprise Award during an online event hosted by Dallas Baptist University in partnership with WFAA-TV and Shelly Slater Strategies. The award is presented to individuals whose lives are testimonies of excellence in business leadership while demonstrating a spirit of generosity and service to the community. Pete Delkus, WFAA-TV chief meteorologist and DBU trustee, served as the emcee for the virtual event. Sparkey Beckham has served as chairman of the board of trustees for both Baylor Healthcare System and Baylor University Medical Center. Merrie Beckham helped establish one of the first Mothers of Preschoolers programs in Texas, in addition to serving with several civic and educational institutions.
Students in Baylor University’s “Philanthropy and the Public Good” class directed $90,000 to seven Waco-area nonprofit organizations. After spending the semester evaluating 50 prospective grant recipients, the class announced the award winners in a virtual ceremony on Nov. 23. The two largest grants are $25,000 to Esther’s Closet, a self-sufficiency program to assist unemployed women in Waco and help them escape poverty; and $21,700 to the Talitha Koum Institute, a mental health therapeutic nurture center that focuses on the brain development of at-risk children from infancy to 5 years old. Other grant recipients are the Advocacy Center for Crime Victims and Children, the Care Net Pregnancy Center of Central Texas, CASA (Court-Appointed Special Advocates) of McLennan County, the Community Cancer Association and The Cove, a nurturing center for homeless teens. Jeremy Vickers, associate vice president of external affairs, and Holly Burchett, director of community relations at Baylor, taught the fall 2020 “Philanthropy and the Public Good” class. The Baylor/Waco Foundation, led by the Solid Gold Neighbor Ambassador Council, provided funding for the course this semester. The council is composed of 25 local community members representing the five areas of focus of Baylor’s Solid Gold Neighbor community engagement initiative—economic development, health, education, cultural wealth and city growth. Additional funding was provided by Aramark and the Philanthropy Lab. Since fall 2014, a class of Baylor students has stewarded and given away nearly $800,000 in grants to nonprofit organizations in partnership with the Philanthropy Lab. The Fort Worth-based Philanthropy Lab and its donor partners have given more than $9 million to build philanthropy education at 29 universities across the United States since 2011. More than 3,115 students have participated in philanthropy courses affiliated with The Philanthropy Lab.