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News & Stories: 2009-10

A challenge, a success
June 14, 2010

As she has gone from class to class or pushed a dust mop around the floor of the new fieldhouse during the past year, Leondra Fair has gotten used to people recognizing her: “They kept saying, ‘I saw you on the website'— even people I didn’t know,” said the Calvin junior and worker in the physical plant department.

Leondra FairFair’s is one of the seven student faces adorning a maroon banner featured this year on the Calvin Web site, on postcards and flyers and in ads in the Calvin alumni magazine Spark. Also featured are seniors Michael Rodriguez, Sarah Tasker, Aaron Cole-Rouser, juniors Sam Suh and Aletheia Shin and sophomore Ahna Terpstra.

The challenge

The banner is the signature artwork for the Every Student Challenge, a special Calvin Annual Fund giving initiative offered for the 2009–2010 academic year. The faces were there, along with profiles of each student, to remind potential givers that contributions to the the annual fund  directly benefit every student.

"The message that the annual fund helps every student at Calvin really resonated with our donors," said annual fund director Souzan Karadsheh. "They understood that the seven faces used on the banner represented all students who are part of the Calvin experience every day. We would get notes from some donors, saying, “Please make sure this goes to the ‘Every Student’ effort.”

The Every Student Challenge launched in October with a goal of attracting 4,192 new or upgraded gifts for 2009–2010: one for every student enrolled at Calvin; to date the challenge program has brought in more than 6,000 gifts.

Karadsheh believes the challenge appeals to alumni and others because the dollars given to it are unrestricted and because every gift—large or small—makes a difference. Annual fund gifts are not dedicated to a particular Calvin facility or program; donations flow to wherever student need is greatest.

The response

In the 2009–2010 year (because of the uncertain financial climate) a large portion of those donations  flowed to financial aid. "Our annual giving has tracked consistently 17 to 18 percent ahead of last year in total gifts received primarily due to ‘upgraded gifts,’” said vice president of advancement Ken Erffmeyer. “We have very loyal alumni and friends who want to help our students in these difficult economic times.”

Suzy Karadsheh holding an Every Student Challenge postcardKaradsheh agreed: “Our goal is to keep Calvin within reach of our students and their families,” she said. She's excited to work on a fund devoted to student needs. And she’s pleased that the success of the challenge has highlighted the Calvin Annual Fund:

"The Every Student Challenge is not about any specific project. It is about the project named Calvin College,” said Karadsheh. "Supporters of annual fund are excited about the day-to-day at Calvin. They are also excited about investing in the lives of students like Ahna, Michael, Aletheia, Sara, Sam, Aaron and Leondra.”

Fair has enjoyed having her profile raised. ”I know Calvin’s really generous with its scholarships, so I’m really happy that my face was used for that,” she said. “I always wanted to be on something like a flyer.”

~by Myrna Anderson, communications and marketing

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