Celebrating Philanthropy at NWU
As students made last-minute adjustments to their semester-long research projects for the research symposium, crammed for finals and planned life after graduation, Nebraska Wesleyan held its first-annual Philanthropy Week April 19-22 to celebrate all the good our students do on campus, in the Lincoln community and around the world. Students shared their philanthropic passions and learned about how alumni and friends of the university support their current experiences.
Philanthropy is vital to the well-being of the Nebraska Wesleyan community. As an independent liberal arts university, we rely on the generosity of alumni, parents, faculty, staff, and friends of the university to make the NWU experience accessible for our students. Every year, individuals who believe in NWU’s mission—a transformative liberal arts experience—show their support by collectively contributing over $1,000,000 to the Archway Fund.
Philanthropy Week kicked off on Tuesday, April 19 with a student-led philanthropy fair. Representatives from eight student organizations and campus offices—Theta Chi, Phi Kappa Tau, Delta Zeta, Alpha Gamma Delta, Global Service Learning, the Intersectionality Resource Center, Greenhouse Project, and the Advancement Office—talked with their peers, staff, and faculty members about the philanthropic efforts of their organizations.
First-year student Tea Cushman (‘25) is a member of Global Service Learning, which coordinates monthly service projects within the Lincoln community as well as annual trips within the US and internationally. GSL has traveled to Peru and Guatemala in the past and now goes to Puerto Rico each year to help with continued hurricane relief. During winter break, GSL traveled to Arizona for a full week of service, partnering with the organization Iskashitaa Refugee Network. Iskashitaaa helps asylum seekers and refugees in the community combat food insecurity and hunger by collecting surplus fruit from local producers. While in Tucson, GSL assisted Ishakistaa by volunteering at a local food bank, planting a community garden, and engaging with the local Ugandan community.
Tea prioritizes philanthropy because, “we should all use our gifts and blessings to promote the welfare of our community and participate in building a better community.”
On Wednesday, April 20, we celebrated community philanthropic partnerships with our friends at Runza on Holdrege & 56th Street. Since 2014, this Runza location has held 16 Dine out for NWU at Runza days, where they donate 15% of the day’s sales to the Archway Fund. On April 20, they helped us raise $1,118. Since September 2014, this Runza location has contributed a total of $14,791 to Nebraska Wesleyan!
Thursday, April 21 was the main event, Giving Day. On Giving Day, we ask the entire NWU community to help us celebrate students and their achievements by supporting their NWU experience through the Archway Fund. The Archway Fund makes the NWU experience possible through scholarships and financial aid, department funding, professional development opportunities for faculty, athletic funding, study abroad support, new technology, and campus beautification. A successful Giving Day—a fun and frenzied 24-hour sprint that brings the whole community together—supports the Archway Fund and the full Nebraska Wesleyan experience.
Twenty-seven staff, faculty and students volunteered to engage with their peers about Giving Day and the Archway Fund at booths around campus. Students wrote over 200 thank-you notes to donors, and staff and faculty members made their annual Archway Fund contribution.
All gifts were matched dollar for dollar by generous corporate sponsors and alumni. One such matching gift came from alumnus Greg Bergt (’71). Greg makes supporting NWU a priority, "Nebraska Wesleyan was responsible for my success in the business world; giving back is my way of saying thank you. It speaks well to NWU. Once you graduate, you become part of a family. We must support Nebraska Wesleyan to ensure its stable future."
Several alumni also created class challenges to encourage their peers to give. David Joekel (‘02) organized the celebration of his class’s twenty-year reunion. Thanks to his encouragement, 21 class of 2002 graduates contributed $6,325 on Giving Day. NWU planted the seed of philanthropy in David, and he is confident in the lasting transformations that NWU provides for its students, “NWU truly lives out its core values by creating learning opportunities that are customized for each student to pursue a degree in a way that fits their life and personal situations.”
Over 500 donors came together on Giving Day to raise $243,689 for students.
We rounded out our celebration on April 22 by thanking everyone who made Philanthropy Week “sweet.” Students, faculty, and staff who got the “Scoop on
Philanthropy” gathered in the sunshine to redeem tickets they earned throughout the week by engaging in philanthropy for a free sno-cone courtesy of Mishayla (’11) and Timothy Freburg and Tropical Sno. Thank you to the 179 in-person and digital volunteers who helped make Giving Day, Philanthropy Week and this year a major success. And thank you to Mishayla and Tropical Sno for the sweet treat!
The future looks bright for NWU because of our strong and dedicated community. Exciting projects are on the horizon to provide students with more opportunities to serve the community and develop their passions. Every undertaking is made possible by the generous donors who believe in the mission of Nebraska Wesleyan and the students who call it home.
Story by Quynn Kennedy ('23)