As the fall semester wraps up, many students may be feeling a time and monetary strain from attending school. Thanks to this year’s NAIT it Forward campaign, staff raised over $100,000 for students to help their cause.
The NAIT it Forward campaign raises money for student scholarships, emergency bursaries, student learning spaces and student counselling services.
Erin Kuebler, the annual giving officer at the Department of Advancement said
her staff’s salaries come from the NAIT operating fund.
“We are fortunate enough at NAIT that 100 per cent of your donation goes to where you designate it,” she said. Garry Wilson, president of the NAIT Academic Staff Association said students write thank-you cards every year to the staff that donate to the NAIT it Forward program. “It’s appreciated to know that our money has gone to somebody specific,” he said.
“I’ve been a student here. Now, I’m paying it forward to future students.”
Wilson recognizes many differences from when he was a student. “The government used to pay for apprenticeship training, [now] most students will get their employment insurance after they finish school.”
In his experience, he’s seen students that can’t pay rent, buy food or afford
“As an instructor, I feel it is part of our responsibility to make sure students have the ability to come to school and learn and not have to have a lot of that stress aspect from outside forces,” Wilson says.
A staff donation campaign for students has been around since 2001 in partnership with United Way. However, in 2014, the program was split into two different campaigns: one for United Way and one for the NAIT it Forward
“We said, maybe we need to break it apart to give a little more focus to NAIT,” said Erin Kuebler. “It really let us shine a light on giving to [NAIT it Forward].”
Before the split in 2014, only about $30,000 was raised for students at NAIT but afterwards that number more than doubled to $80,000.
The reach initiatives that are funded by NAIT it Forward include Flynn, the therapy dog, increased hours at the NAIT Counselling Centre, the learning space tables in the CAT Building and various scholarships, including the
NAIT Family Endowment, athletic scholarships and program-specific scholarships.
In comparison to other post-secondary institutions, Kuebler said NAIT excels in terms of staff participation.
“We’re really focused on growing that culture of philanthropy. We were astounded this year to see such an uptake,” Kuebler said. “In terms of percentage, last year we were at 25 per cent and this year we’ve gained at least two or three per cent, maybe more. We hold our own if not do better.”
In 2016, 600 faculty and staff contributed more than $91,000.
– Randy Saccafien