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Amazing Results: Students Raise Money to Help Local Families


December 16, 2015

For the third year, LeBow freshmen, peer leaders, faculty and staff worked on a project to raise money for the local nonprofit Bringing Hope Home, which provides “unexpected amazingness” for local families fighting cancer through financial and emotional support.

This year, the effort was expanded to include numerous creative grassroots initiatives, and the students succeeded at raising more than $8,100 for the nonprofit – nearly four times more than was raised last year.

LeBow’s 44 peer leaders – sophomore business students selected from a large group of applicants to help with freshmen onboarding and acclimation – were tasked with developing and implementing plans to raise funds for Bringing Hope Home during fall term. Through their University 101 classes, the peer leaders and the groups of students assigned to them engaged in a competition to see which section could raise the most money. Some of the ideas implemented included a coin jar competition, sponsored events at Landmark and Cosi, a crepe breakfast, t-shirt sales, candy bar sales and bake sales.

Peer leader Grace Mellor proposed a 10-mile walk event, utilizing social media to raise funds, to her group. “I got the idea to do a walk-a-thon as a fundraiser after reflecting on my volunteer experience at the Avon Breast Cancer walk in NYC that I participated in for a few years back in high school. I also know that many freshmen tend not to venture out into Center City until Spring Term. So, I created a 10-mile route online that was fun, easy and educational. We walked up the Schuylkill River Trail to the Philadelphia Museum of Art, down Ben Franklin Parkway, around Love Park, through Rittenhouse Square, Penn’s campus, and ended the walk where we started, in front of Gerri C. LeBow Hall.”

Out of her class of 41, Grace reports that 22 of her students participated in the actual walk, as well as a few other LeBow students and even her parents. “Originally, as a class, we had a goal of raising $820 (which is $20 per student). Our end total was $931.”

The winning University 101 class – Team Summer – raised $1,180 through candy and bake sales, a Cosi fundraiser, and asking friends and family to make donations. LeBow peer leaders Nidhi Shah and Kenneth Hill led this team.

The students’ creative fundraising efforts culminated in LeBow’s third annual freshman dodgeball tournament – which pits LeBow’s University 101 classes against each other. LeBow’s Learning Communities are so far three-for-three in this tournament: this year, the LeBow Commuters beat out the reigning champions, Business Learning Community (BLC), which had won both previous tournaments. LeBow Commuters celebrated by drenching Dean Frank Linnehan with a pitcher of Gatorade.

Caitlin Mahon, a development coordinator at Bringing Hope Home, says her organization found their experience with LeBow to be so positive, and the end result so great, that they are going to utilize the experience as a model to engage other colleges throughout the tri-state area.

At a recent event held to celebrate and thank peer leaders, Bringing Hope Home CEO Paul Isenberg said the $8,100 raised by LeBow students will help 10 local families struck by news of cancer this holiday season.

Julia LaRosa, an associate clinical professor and LeBow’s peer leader faculty advisor, worked with the students to help them develop their fundraising efforts and maintain enthusiasm among their freshmen groups. “The thing that’s remarkable to me is that they raised all this money – pennies, nickels, dimes, dollars, from a population that doesn’t have a lot of extra money to give,” she says. “The peer leaders were so remarkably enthusiastic, and many of them raised money in memory of family members. The charity struck a chord with them due to family connections.”

She says they learned that fundraising isn’t easy. “And they also learned that you can come up with great plans, but implementation is difficult and requires tenacity in order to be successful.”

LaRosa is very happy the students raise money for this particular charity. “The way Bringing Hope Home advocates for people – they don’t just take $100 and pay their electric bill. They call the electric company and convince them to forgive the next three electric bills as well. So, the $8,100 our students raised will go so much farther than $8,100 would usually go.”