WMU News

Students snare $10,000 Kellogg Foundation grant

Jan. 5, 2005

KALAMAZOO--A human services student organization at Western Michigan University will expand fund raising and networking with local human service agencies, thanks to a $10,000 grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation of Battle Creek, Mich.

The American Humanics Student Association, which supports certification of students through American Humanics Inc., will use the grant to create two annual fund-raisers. Money the events generate will pay for students to attend the American Humanics Management Institute, which is required for certification.

The association will stage two communitywide, fund-raising events--a fall auction and spring awards ceremony. Both activities will bring students in much closer contact with local human service agencies and their supporters than traditional fund-raisers.

The fund-raising plan grew out of a retreat the association held last February at the Kellogg Foundation, says Bradley Wells, association president. Organization members invited Dr. Robert Long, the Kellogg Foundation's vice president for programs, philanthropy and volunteerism, to attend the brainstorming session, and his attendance played a key role in securing the grant.

"He got very excited about our ideas and said, 'This is something I think we could fund,' " Wells recalls. "They liked our idea because it can be replicated at other universities."

Members had checked with humanics associations at other institutions and found that most of them raised funds in traditional ways that did not really enhance their training or experience.

"This gets students away from bake sales and car washes and into what they will be doing at an actual non-profit agency," says Janice Maatman, director of Nonprofit Education Programs in the WMU School of Public Affairs and Administration. Maatman helped students pull together the new fund-raising plan.

The awards fund-raiser will include a meal, speaker and awards program that will recognize overall excellence in non-profit leadership, top new non-profit organization and exceptional business commitment to the non-profit sector. Representatives from local nonprofit agencies, businesses and nonprofit support programs as well as WMU students will attend the event.

A committee of community members will evaluate nominees and select the award winners.

Association members conducted a phone survey of local nonprofits and businesses and found strong support for both attending an awards fund-raiser and signing on as an event sponsor, Wells says.

The auction will give area nonprofits a chance to network with WMU student organizations as well as bid on such prizes as WMU student volunteer time, professional consulting time, recreation materials, office supplies, and reference books and materials on nonprofit-related topics. The event will focus on connecting students with nonprofit organizations as resources in the community and vice-versa.

Students expect the fund-development plan to expand networking between the University and community, increase fund-raising capacity, create a fund-raising strategies model that can be used elsewhere and give students an opportunity to fulfill nonprofit competencies, while allowing the association to continue to provide students with certification in nonprofit leadership and help build nonprofit education.

The association also believes the projected revenues from the two events will be sufficient to sustain them in the future. If they get off to a strong start, the association anticipates being able to obtain scholarships for the awards and University funding for speakers as well as increase the cost of participation, find table sponsors and receive donations for promotional materials.

Though he has worked hard to create the new funding strategy, Wells might not be able to see much of the plan take shape. He leaves in January for Kiev, Ukraine, where he will study at the National University of Kyiv-Mohyla Academy.

"It's tough, personally, because I would absolutely love to attend," Wells says. "But I will be trying to make it back for AHSA events in the future."

Media contact: Mark Schwerin, 269 387-8400, mark.schwerin@wmich.edu

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