Lara Aknin awarded SSHRC Partnership Engage grant for nurturing the next generation of philanthropists

October 15, 2019

Simon Fraser University psychology professor Lara Aknin, who received the Distinguished SFU professor award this year, has also been awarded a Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) Partnership Engage Grant for her project, “Can Repeated and Reflective Giving Nurture Canada's Next Generation of Philanthropists?” For this project, Aknin and social psychology master’s student Jason Proulx have partnered with co-applicant Ashley Whillans from Harvard University and collaborator Ernesto Peña from the Charitable Impact Foundation (CHIMP), a Vancouver-based registered Canadian charity, to investigate the influence of the Play Better Program and the Charitable Allowance Program. Their research will help uncover how youth athletes and students respond to these CHIMP programs and what benefits they may gain from them.

"Fewer people are giving to charity nowadays and organizations like CHIMP aim to address this concern by nurturing the next generation of philanthropists. Kids spend a bunch of time in school and community sports learning core subjects like math and science or focusing on how to win the next big match,” Proulx says. “But rarely do they get the chance to experience and discuss the impact of charitable giving not only for others, but for themselves. We are motivated to see how and whether CHIMP’s programs impact youths’ long-term relationship with charitable giving and if these programs are one viable option to start shifting current and future giving trends.”

Aknin and Proulx’s advice for prospective graduate students and postdoctoral fellows emphasizes the value in bringing together practitioners, educators and academics to apply what is learned in the lab to give back to the communities they seek to inform.

“Through our partnership with CHIMP, we can apply their research to inform interventions which may improve lives for our local community and beyond,” Aknin says. “We highly recommend reaching out to organizations and applying your research skills to help solve real world issues. Get involved early to facilitate scholarly-practitioner partnerships, including study design and grant writing, to help build a skill set which will be integral for a research career both in academic and organizational contexts.”