In an academic year already marked with record enrollments, Elmhurst College friends, alumni, faculty, staff and students came together on Thursday, May 3, and set another record, raising $287,810 during the College’s second annual #JayItForward Giving Day.
More than 1,000 donors from 33 states contributed to the 24-hour fundraiser to benefit Elmhurst students, with the final number exceeding the original goal by nearly half.
President Troy D. VanAken announced the final results Friday morning during a campus celebration also shared on Facebook Live. As Giving Day ambassadors showed each digit one by one, cheers erupted when the record-setting amount was fully revealed.
“That’s a new record,” President VanAken said, “and it’s a testament to the fact that when we pull together, we can do anything.”
The money raised will support numerous causes at Elmhurst College, including the student scholarship fund, the Honors Program, student research, the American Dream Scholarship for first-generation college students, student leadership programs, Bluejay Backers Athletics, the Bluejay Nest Fund, and more.
On Thursday, the campus was busy from end to end with #JayItForward Giving Day events showcasing Elmhurst College students, their accomplishments, and the opportunities an Elmhurst education can provide.
The day kicked off with the Scholarship Breakfast, an opportunity for donors to meet with scholarship recipients and learn firsthand how their gifts benefit them.
Singer Matthew Cloud, a sophomore and winner of the 2018 EC on the Rise student talent competition, performed for the attendees. Describing Elmhurst College as his “dream school,” he thanked the donors and said there was no way he could attend without scholarship support.
Shortly before 9:00 a.m., Valerie Day, vice president for development and alumni relations, announced that donations had just exceeded $100,000—halfway to the goal of $200,000—thanks to a $38,570 gift from two donors attending the breakfast, Susan Howard ’76 and her husband, Craig.
“What an amazing gift they gave to our students,” President VanAken said.
Their gift foreshadowed a steady outpouring of gifts throughout the day and into the evening. At the same time, $70,000 in gift challenges were matched, giving the donations an even greater impact.
A number of other activities were held on campus for anyone wanting to be “A Jay for the Day,” including a Bluejay Academy talk with physics professor Brian Wilhite; a campus arboretum tour; a Bluejay barbecue; and even a cooking class with the head chef of the campus dining operation.
It also was a day to celebrate student achievement, with the presentation of numerous academic and leadership awards during the Founders’ Honors Convocation. That evening, students and faculty presented scholarly research, gave musical presentations, held panel discussions and more during the 16th Annual Research and Performance Showcase.
At a social hosted late Thursday afternoon by the College’s Staff Council, President VanAken announced that Elmhurst had officially met its $200,000 goal. He promptly set a new goal of $230,000, confident that the College’s friends and supporters would come through.
Donations continued to flow in throughout the evening. In a surprise challenge, four premium Chicago Cubs tickets were offered in an effort to raise the total number of donors to 1,000. By midnight the College had recorded gifts from 1,007 donors.
During the “reveal” event Friday morning, President VanAken thanked all of the donors not only for their monetary gifts but also for their strong, collective commitment to Elmhurst College, its students and the future.
This has been a fantastic event and we’ve had a phenomenal year—it’s because people are pulling together.President VanAken on the Giving Day success
He closed by calling for a continuation of the campus’ culture of giving and working together, with the goal of “setting new records and doing big things” to benefit students and their experience at Elmhurst College.