PFA Intern Sadie Polson met with Zac Donley to talk about the nationally recognized, student-led, fundraising campaign K-State Proud. Donley is a senior from Wichita, KS studying Life Sciences with a minor in Leadership Studies, and is serving as a K-State Proud Co-Chair for the 2018-2019 term.
PFA Intern: Zac, thank you so much for sitting down with me today. The K-State Proud student campaign is a relatively young, yet highly valued K-State tradition. Tell K-State parents and families about K-State Proud and what makes it so special.
Zac: K-State Proud is the largest student-led philanthropy on campus. The mission “Students Helping Students” invites K-State students to support their peers with whom they attend classes everyday. For a minimum donation of $20, K-State students receive a highly coveted K-State Proud t-shirt which is student-designed every year. Donations to the campaign support Student Opportunity Awards for current students who are facing a temporary financial crisis. Without the help of K-State Proud, these students would likely have to drop out of K-State, decreasing the likelihood of graduation. K-State Proud is unique in that students are providing support for their peers. The culture of Family at K-State is seen first-hand when a student wears their K-State Proud t-shirt. It’s so cool to walk through campus and see students, faculty, and staff dressed in a K-State Proud t-shirt. We look out for each other and I’m so lucky to attend a University where supporting each other is number one on our values list.
PFA Intern: The annual student-led fundraising campaign is a relatively young tradition. What kind of impact has the campaign had on K-State? How many students contribute to the campaign each year?
Zac: Over the past 12 years, K-State Proud has raised more than $1.2 million and has supported more than 650 students. K-State Proud is nationally recognized because in such a short amount of time, we have raised a substantial amount of money all because of the generosity of the K-State community. Each year, students, faculty, staff, alumni, and other K-Staters participate in the campaign and donate to K-State Proud because they see the direct impact Proud has on our student body. Last year, 1,200 shirts were distributed and we expect that number to increase during the 2018-19 school year!
PFA Intern: It seems like I see students wearing the K-State Proud t-shirts everywhere. How’s this t-shirt different than any other shirt a student might own?
Zac: I think it goes back to the meaning behind the K-State Proud t-shirt. I can go to a store and buy a t-shirt, but that is only for my benefit. When you donate for a K-State Proud shirt, you not only receive a good-looking shirt, but also the knowledge that because of your donation, a K-State student will continue their path to graduation and a future career. I have become increasingly aware of students wearing K-State Proud t-shirts on campus in the past couple months and it warms my heart to see the culture of philanthropy present on our campus.
PFA Intern: What are the goals for the K-State Proud student campaign this year?
Zac: Our main goal is to receive more donations than prior years. That is pretty unoriginal, but makes the most sense! We want to continue to grow so more students can stay at K-State. We are also trying to reach out to alumni, community members, and parents during the campaign this year. Most of the student body recognizes K-State Proud, but we want all K-Staters, including those not located in Manhattan, to be aware of our message and have access to donate for a K-State Proud t-shirt. Parents and families are always invited and encouraged to donate. If interested, they can visit the K-State Proud website.
PFA Intern: How can a K-State student get involved with the K-State Proud student campaign?
Zac: There are plenty of ways for a student to get involved with K-State Proud. The first being as a campaign volunteer. We host a volunteer training in mid-October, but can always meet with students one-on-one if needed. This is a great way for students of all ages to give back to a University that has given so much to us. K-State Proud is led by Student Foundation. Applications for membership to Student Foundation will be available beginning this Winter with interviews in the Spring semester. I encourage all students to apply to not only volunteer with K-State Proud, but also to be surrounded by philanthropic student leaders and University donors. Students can also apply for a Student Opportunity Award if they are facing financial struggles or students can nominate a student who they feel deserves to receive an award.
PFA Intern: I bet you need a lot of student volunteers to lead the campaign. What do you look for in a campaign volunteer?
Zac: There is not one type of K-State Proud volunteer. The campaign helps many different types of students including in-state, out-of-state, and international students for example. To be of service to the campus community, we must relate as well as efficiently get Proud’s message out to the student body. We do this through word of mouth, established relationships, and social media platforms. A campaign volunteer should be excited, passionate, and from any part of campus. We encourage all K-State students who are interested to attend our volunteer training to get a better idea of the duties of a Proud volunteer.
PFA Intern: Most importantly, if I know a student who could benefit from a Student Opportunity Award, how can I help direct them to support?
Zac: Student Opportunity Awards (SOA) are the backbone of the K-State Proud student campaign. We work year round to increase the amount of SOAs we are able to distribute to students. An SOA can change the course of a student’s K-State experience and I have seen the impact they have on students who need the award the most. If your student is in need of financial assistance or you know of another student who is struggling, please visit the K-State Proud website and click the Student Opportunity Award tab. Need-based scholarships are becoming more important and K-State Proud is able to provide this financial help to K-State students.
PFA Intern: Who decides whether a student receives a Student Opportunity Award? How long does the process take for a student to receive support?
Zac: We have a Student Opportunity Award committee who meets weekly. The committee is made up of students coming from different backgrounds, locations, and viewpoints. Additionally, we are joined by Asst VP for Student Life/Director for Student Financial Assistance and Admissions Larry Moeder. Since the committee meets every week to review Student Opportunity Award applications, we are able to respond quickly with a decision and distribution of funds. It’s our goal to allocate SOAs as quickly as possible because we understand the physical, mental, and academic struggles a financial crisis can have on a student. Past recipients have had overdue medical bills, were victims of fires and floods, and international students whose funding was cut. Student Opportunity Awards are for K-State students and provided by K-State student generosity. Our motto of Students Helping Students has become rooted in K-State’s history and will continue to provide access to Student Opportunity Awards for years to come.
PFA Intern: Zac, thank you so much for educating parents and families about K-State Proud and why it has become such a valued K-State tradition. Good luck with the campaign. I look forward to donating again this year!