For every student
October 8, 2009
On the online banner are seven students’ faces, and if you click on the faces, you learn about the students: One studies chemistry; one studies art. One plays rugby; one dances in Rangeela. One wants to make Christian films; one wants to train Christian leaders. And one is currently painting bicycles maroon and yellow.
The seven students are the poster children for the Every Student Challenge, a new giving initiative from the Calvin Annual Fund. Their seven faces represent all Calvin students, and the aim of the challenge is to locate a financial gift to support every student at Calvin—all 4,092 of them.
"We’re looking for a new or upgraded gift for every student on campus this year,” said annual fund director Souzan Karadsheh. “Alumni, friends, parents, faculty, staff and business organizations—everybody is invited to give.”
One fund, many opportunties
The Every Student Challenge was designed to put a face, or, more accurately, faces, on the Calvin Annual Fund, she said. The initiative highlights what is special about the fund: “Putting these students’ faces on this challenge was important because contributions to the challenge and the annual fund will go toward supporting students immediately and directly.”
The annual fund is essential to the everyday operation of the college, Karadsheh explained. “These are unrestricted dollars that the college can use immediately,” she said, “and they go where they are most needed.”
The annual fund supplies the resources that students need every day, Karadsheh said: “Really, annual fund money goes everywhere. I could take a walk on campus one day, and I could point to places and programs the annual fund supports: service-learning, internships, off-campus study, library resources and bicycle racks. Annual fund money often supports faculty research and sabbaticals. It supports the 40 worship and discipleship opportunities we have on campus every week. It even supports student performances like Airband and Rangeela.”
This past year, the annual fund benefitted students in the form of increased financial aid. “Especially in rough economic times, when endowment is low, and where more financial aid is needed, the annual fund becomes more vital,” Karadsheh said.
Vice president for advancement Ken Erffmeyer agreed: “We want to make Calvin more affordable for all students, and the annual fund is one of the best ways to do that,” he said.
The annual fund staff aims to expand the reach of the fund by raising additional dollars this year. The Every Student Challenge, which runs through June 30, 2010, was designed to increase alumni and donor participation in the fund. When the goal of 4,092 new or upgraded gifts (one gift per enrolled student) is reached, the annual fund will receive an additional $100,000 challenge grant from donors committed to the annual fund.
"The annual fund is where anyone can participate, and every gift counts,” Karadsheh said.
She is gratified that the students who represent the fund are themselves representative of the breadth of the Calvin educational experience:
"Each student’s experience at Calvin is very unique. For one student, it’s the academic excellence. For another student, it’s the spiritual development. For another student, it’s the experiential learning and study abroad. And for another student, it’s simply living in the community in the dorms. What I know is, all of these opportunities are there for every student …,” Karadsheh said. “And they’ve all received a well-rounded liberal arts education while being surrounded by a solid community of faithful believers.”
She confessed a personal connection to the fund she now directs. “I couldn’t have come to Calvin without the annual fund. I came to Calvin from Egypt. My father was a pastor,” she said. “Keeping Calvin within the reach of families like mine is really a passion for me.”
~by Myrna Anderson, communications and marketing