UCA’s Day of Giving raises more than $1.2 million in its biggest giving day of nearly a decade
UCA’s annual Day of Giving event on March 9 saw the largest dollar amount raised in its nine-year tenure. With a total of more than $1.2 million raised, the university is at 94 percent of its $100 million goal for the UCA Now: Impact Arkansas and Beyond campaign. And while the Day of Giving may be counted in dollars and cents, the lasting impact for students, faculty and community is immeasurable.
Funds raised during UCA’s Day of Giving assist students in several ways including emergency funds, the Bear Essentials Food Pantry, scholarships, new learning equipment and research funding. Additionally, the Day of Giving promotes morale by giving everyone an opportunity to participate.
This year’s event saw the College of Education raise their highest total to date. Dr. Victoria Groves-Scott, dean of the college, said these funds make “a huge, huge difference for our students.”
Emergency funds help students in many ways, such as providing gas for student teachers who commute to area schools during their internships. “That’s what really drives the enthusiasm is that we can have contact with these students, we know them, we know their situations, and we know that this money can really make a difference,” she said.
The food pantry at UCA also benefits from Day of Giving Funds. With an average of 428 visits per month, the Bear Essentials Food Pantry is a tool to prevent food insecurity for students, faculty and staff.
“We rely on donations from different groups to help keep the pantry afloat,” said Food Pantry Coordinator Will Baker. “In April, we had 606 visits to the pantry. That’s roughly 150 people per week. We raised $5,260 during this year’s Day of Giving and that has helped us buy a lot of food to help support our UCA community. We are just so thankful to have people to help support us. We would like to just say ‘thank you’ for helping us help someone else.”
Scholarships and new learning equipment along with funding for research are other vital parts of UCA’s campus benefiting from the Day of Giving’s immense impact. “The amount of money that’s given to scholarships and the number of students that will benefit from a college degree because of those scholarships changes everything for the individual and their family, so that is a huge legacy,” said Groves-Scott.
Students can also be a part of the Day of Giving through either giving or volunteering. Student Government Association (SGA) 2022-23 executive president Courtney Clawson ’23 said Day of Giving has many benefits for the student body. Every year, SGA matches the amount given by students and then they choose a different UCA Foundation scholarship fund to support in order to help as many students as possible.
Students also volunteer by taking donations at the SGA’s table on Day of Giving at the Ronnie Williams Student Center. Clawson said the best part of that is the opportunity to see students getting involved and giving back in whatever way they can. Students supporting each other builds a connection. “And, so I think students are seeing that [and] they’re like, ‘Oh! We can actually do this,’ and it builds morale on campus,” she said.
Different colleges participate in Day of Giving with creative approaches that bring in faculty and student participation. The College of Education had a table in front of Mashburn where students could drop a quarter in a bucket and receive a hand-made trinket. This allows all students to participate and have a reminder that they gave. “Every little bit helps, and we want them to know that right away,” said Groves-Scott.
Fans of UCA’s Athletics program also played a significant role in the Day of Giving event by committing more than $250,000 this year. Athletics Director Brad Teague said, “It is empowering to see how our alumni and campus community have embraced it. It affords our institution great awareness.”
Matt Whiting, associate athletic director for external relations, agrees, “Gifts received on Day of Giving have a tremendous impact on our athletics program. These gifts enhance the student-athlete experience at UCA, provide a significant boost to all of our programs, and help us achieve our goal of competing for championships in the classroom and in competition. The generosity and support from all donors is felt throughout the athletics program, and we are very appreciative of their leadership on this day.”
The area community also benefits from UCA’s Day of Giving. The Main Stage EdUCAtion Series program at Reynolds Performance Hall offers Arkansas K-12 students the opportunity to watch and engage in performances by professional national-touring artists which raises cultural awareness and puts an emphasis on the importance of the arts. Reynolds Performance Hall raised their largest total to date this year proving their dedication to expanding the curriculum for local students and impacting their future.
Amanda Horton, executive director of public appearances, said the Main Stage EdUCAtion program exposes children to the arts. “We are planting a seed for future artists and arts lovers, but also future college students, and [this exposure] broadens their view of the world, helps them understand different perspectives and embraces critical thinking.”
Horton continued, “In addition to show expenses, we also provide access for all students regardless of their economic status. Therefore, we donate free tickets to around 40 percent of our students that qualify for free/reduced lunch. For many years our Day of Giving campaign funded the tickets for students who were not able to afford the $5 ticket price.”
UCA is a big-small university: a big-small university with a heart for giving back. Students participate in the Day of Giving knowing they are supporting each other. Faculty want to watch their students excel during their time here, so they volunteer and give enthusiastically to add to that excellence. Alumni give and further their legacy with their generosity and kindness. Donors and friends are also giving and seeing the great impact giving has for so many.
The UCA Now: Impact Arkansas and Beyond campaign now sits at more than $94 million of the $100 million goal, and that is because of all who gave.
“The current campaign total is the result of the continued engagement of our entire community of students, faculty, staff, alumni, donors and friends,” UCA President Houston Davis said. “They are dedicated to UCA and to supporting the positive impact our graduates make in communities across our state and beyond.”
The UCA Day of Giving shows a campus community aware of the needs of students, faculty and staff. It also shows the university’s unwavering dedication to giving back. Alumni, donors, friends, faculty, staff and students, all are welcome to give and grow, making UCA’s Day of Giving more than just a day for numbers. It is a day that shows the generosity of the UCA family and the impact of giving as a characteristic of leadership. When we all give, we all grow — together.