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Students reward philanthropy and nonprofits

April 5, 2006

KALAMAZOO--Two lucky local nonprofits will win $3,000 each and 50 hours of student volunteer time, while a local business will win $3,000 to be given to the nonprofit of their choice thanks to a student-driven awards program undertaken by members of the American Humanics Student Association at Western Michigan University.

Finalists for the "best philanthropic business," "best established nonprofit" and "best emerging nonprofit" awards will be announced at a news conference at 3:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 11, in the United Way building, 709 S. Westnedge Ave., Kalamazoo. In all, eight finalists will vie for the AHSA awards: two in the business category, four in the established nonprofit category and two in the emerging nonprofit category.

Winners will be announced at the Nonprofit Awards Dinner two days later, starting at 6 p.m. Thursday, April 13, in the Fetzer Center on the WMU campus. The awards dinner will feature Dr. Robert Long, vice president of programs for the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, as keynote speaker. Musical entertainment will be provided by the Kruziki Transatlantica Quintet, made up of current WMU music students and graduates and winners of Best Jazz Instrumental Group and Best Classical Chamber Group in the 2005 Student Music Awards presented by DownBeat magazine.

A three-course meal will be provided by WMU Catering. The cost to attend is $25 for the general public and $5 for students. To attend the dinner or for more information, contact Janice Maatman, director of nonprofit education programs, at jmaatman@wmich.edu or (269) 387-8945.

The awards initiative grew out of expanded fund raising and networking efforts that the AHSA mounted after being awarded a $10,000 grant from the W.K. Kellogg Foundation a little more than a year ago. Students wanted to go beyond the traditional bake sales and car washes and do something to enhance their nonprofit backgrounds.

"We wanted to raise awareness in the community about nonprofit organizations and educate ourselves about what's out there in the community," says Amy Ostrander, AHSA president. "We also wanted to encourage networking between for-profit businesses, nonprofits and the University and bring everyone together."

The AHSA supports certification of students through American Humanics Inc. The awards program will promote nonprofit excellence, further professional relationships between nonprofits and the business community, provide students an opportunity to work on a major event and at quality businesses and nonprofits, and increase the visibility of two WMU nonprofit programs: undergraduate certification in nonprofit leadership and a master's in public administration with concentration in nonprofit leadership.

Ostrander is a senior majoring in Spanish and international studies with a minor in business and nonprofit leadership. She plans to work in international aid and will probably join the Peace Corps before working for UNICEF.

Fellow ASHA member Erriane Bundle, who is majoring in organizational communication with a minor in nonprofit leadership, hopes to work with AIDS patients in South Africa before eventually getting a job in marketing. She says the awards program has broadened her outlook.

"It's been a good experience talking to the various organizations," Bundle says. "I worked with one lady, who started a nonprofit for personal reasons. I think it's great that she went out on a limb to do something for other people."

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

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