Students, teachers and community members gathered together Friday night for “Party with a Purpose” in Downtown Binghamton.

A collaboration between the Master of Public Administration (MPA) Graduate Student Organization and the College of Community and Public Affairs (CCPA), the sixth annual event was a chance for students and faculty alike to network, mingle and raise money for a local nonprofit, and was entirely orchestrated by students in the MPA program.

The party, held at Terra Cotta, a catering hall on State Street, was a fundraiser for the MPA’s Philanthropy Incubator, which raises money to be donated to local nonprofit organizations.

The event included appetizers, a DJ, an open bar and a raffle of prizes donated by local businesses, such as a Dunkin’ Donuts gift card and a gift basket from Tom & Marty’s. A number of graduate students in the MPA program, professors from the public administration department, business owners and Mayor Rich David, were all in attendance.

The $40-per-person fee will go to a cause determined in April by the students in the MPA course, Public Affairs 552: Issues in Not-for-Profit Administration. This feature of the class is funded by the Philanthropy Incubator and is meant to help graduate students learn about funding non-profits.

“The Philanthropy Incubator bridges the classroom and the community by encouraging students to reflect and act upon the ways in which philanthropic and nonprofit organizations can meet community needs,” said Leana Testani, the MPA philanthropy chair. “As future public administrators, it is important for us to understand the needs of the public and learn ways to provide those needs. Philanthropy is tied directly into how nonprofits can provide those needs.”

The class, taught by CCPA assistant professor Susan Appe, is also part of a program called Students4Giving, which grants graduate students of select universities money to teach public administration, and teaches social work students skills in raising and allocating money and resources to nonprofits.

“The idea of the class is to teach people how to fund nonprofit organizations. So the students in the graduate class this year are someday going to be nonprofit managers,” Appe said. “So they need to understand funds, and how do funders get money. Giving the students the reigns to coordinating this event, they are allowed themselves to be the funders and they can see how the process works.”

The project is part of a larger goal within the CCPA and the MPA program: to integrate the school and program into the Binghamton community and its nonprofits while teaching students professional skills.

“The event is really for the advancement of Binghamton. I mean, we go to school here, but besides the main campus there’s a whole community here that has needs and does great things,” said Lisbeth Pereyra, a first-year graduate student studying public administration. “So I feel like it’s only right to put the effort toward the community that’s so great to us as students and houses our students. We’re only here for so many years, but while you are, you’re part of the community. You’re contributing, you’re taking from it, so it’s a great way to give back.”

The project is the brainchild of public administration department chair David Campbell, who established the Philanthropy Incubator in 2008 in hopes of teaching the students skills in the public sector.

“I really love that it’s student-run, and that the students in the MPA program are learning to be leaders,” Campbell said. “And this event helps them practice and showcase what they’ve learned.”