The amount of money young alumni and students give to their liberal arts colleges nationwide has decreased greatly in recent years and continues diminish. Lawrence, while still receiving a relatively good amount from students and young alumni, follows this national trend. Many students are unaware of the importance of giving back to Lawrence.
The Lawrence Fund is what keeps the university running. It helps pay for everything from music stands in the Conservatory to lighting in the dorms. It also keeps the tuition rates much lower than the actual cost. Every student has a hidden grant that comes from the donations made by alumni in order to cover the costs of their tuition. Many students are ignorant of these grants and have a lax attitude towards giving back to Lawrence. The Lawrence Fund Student Ambassador Program is attempting to change this attitude and educate the student body on what The Lawrence Fund does for them.
Although TLF SAP has been present on campus for quite some time, most students are unaware of the group’s presence or purpose here at Lawrence. In the past students involved in the group were educated about the importance of philanthropy and how gifts to The Lawrence Fund are used to benefit students and keep the college running.
The official mission of TLF is, according to senior J.R. Vanko, “to promote The Lawrence Fund to the student body through active and creative engagement and education, while instilling the importance of philanthropic giving with the student giving campaign Be The Light! Throughout this process, students become ambassadors of The Lawrence Fund, learning invaluable skills for life after Lawrence.”
Last spring the group was revamped, and this Fall Term is the start of the group’s first year following the changes. While students involved are still educated about The Lawrence Fund and participate in events that help them prepare for life after Lawrence, the group is now working to educate other students about the importance of giving back.
Although it is still early in the year, the ambassadors are currently planning campus-wide events for this school year, with plans to organize an education concert Fall Term that will feature on campus bands, as well as presenting to various groups on campus about The Lawrence Fund throughout the year.
Senior Sam Stevens, a TLF Student Ambassador said, “Obviously we are only two weeks into the year so there has not been a large event yet, but there are a couple of ideas floating around for the next few weeks.” Through these upcoming events and presentations the group hopes to raise awareness of the importance of The Lawrence Fund and giving back to Lawrence while still in school.
Senior Paige Koebele, a leader of TLF SAP, said, “In general, people on campus need to have a better understanding about why donating to Lawrence is so crucial. Any donation can make a difference! The newest alumni tend to be our weakest contributors, which we as ambassadors hope to change. Five dollars is better than nothing, and most people have five dollars in a given month that can go toward the school that helped shape them and make them the person they are today.”
Stevens agreed, “The Lawrence Fund isn’t maintained through huge alumni gifts, but instead comes from smaller gifts from our network of alumni and friends of the college.” Both Stevens and Koebele hope to promote the importance of giving back to Lawrence with whatever one can while in school and once graduating through the activities they are planning for the 2012-2013 school year.
Additionally, all of the senior class officers are involved in TLF SAP, and since most of them will soon be young alumni, they are working to change students attitudes on giving back starting with their class gift which will be their legacy to Lawrence. Senior Class Secretary and TLF SAP member Nhi Nguyen stated, “One of the goals that our senior class really wants to accomplish is to raise the money for our class gift.”
Nguyen continued, “In the past years, even just 10 years ago, the money raised was substantially higher to that of last year or the year before. We really don’t know why people are not giving back as much as they used to, but the trend is downhill and kind of embarrassing.” The class officers want to leave their mark on Lawrence and hopefully start changing the downhill trend in giving at liberal arts colleges.
TLF SAP is trying to teach students the importance on giving at any level. They are not asking students to necessarily give while they are in school, but the group does want students to be aware of how important it is to give back to Lawrence. Everything about the group is student planned and student run. Any students interested in the Student Ambassador Program may contact Koebele, Vanko or Cassie McDonald in Annual Giving.