GV United Way campaign breaks donor records

GVL / Courtesy GVNow

GVL / Courtesy GVNow

Constance Turnbull

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Grand Valley State University faculty and staff broke records to raise over $165,000 for the 2014 United Way Campaign. While the number of donors was less than previous years, the money contributed by donors kept the amount raised within the campaign average.

Sue Sloop and Steve Lipnicki, co-chairs of the 2014 campaign committee, explained that there was an average increase of about $6 per donor to the campaign.

“Over the past few years, there has been heightened awareness of the campaign,” Sloop said. “That could be one of the reasons why we are seeing an increase in donor support.”

United Way has also worked to give incentives to donors. Supporters at the different United Way branches across Michigan were entered into a drawing for a car, trip or motorcycle if their donation exceeded last year’s amount.

Sloop explained that GVSU partners with United Way to raise money to be able to give back to the community, funding programs such as Schools of Hope, Stuff the Bus and Project Blueprint. The main contributors to the fund are GVSU faculty and staff, but many students get involved in the other programs founded by United Way.

Within GVSU, a committee also works to raise funds and promote support for Heart of West Michigan United Way. Members of the committee work in areas of finance, special projects, campaigning and working to create a timeline of events for fundraising.

Sloop explained that, although she is no longer co-chair of the committee, she will continue to work with the campaign, focusing on the Schools of Hope project.

“Schools of Hope is a program where we encourage GVSU students to help improve the literacy skills of Grand Rapids Public School students through tutoring,” Sloop said. “The committee works to recruit students, faculty and staff to participate in Schools of Hope. We facilitate training and get the students ready to go out into the schools to tutor.”

One way GVSU encourages staff to get involved with the program is by offering, with supervisor approval, the option that staff and faculty do not have to use personal or vacation time to tutor students. This provides a great incentive for members of the GVSU community to get involved, Sloop said.

Recently, in addition to raising large amounts of money for United Way, an increasing number of students, faculty and staff have gotten involved with the Schools of Hope program. President Thomas Haas is one community member that has been very supportive.

“President Haas has been great,” Sloop said. “He believes strongly in the program.”

Junior Rachel Deppe, an education major, worked with the Schools of Hope program during her sophomore year.

“For my English 308 class, I tutored two students through Schools of Hope,” she said. “It was an amazing experience, and I really got to know the students while developing my educational skills. I would absolutely recommend that other students get involved.”

Although many individuals from GVSU are already involved in Schools of Hope, Sloop explained that many more volunteers are needed.

“We would love to have hundreds of students involved,” she said. “They’re really needed.”

To find out more information about how to get involved with Schools of Hope United Way, visit www.hwmuw.org/events/schoolofhopetraining/114.  

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