Back in 2009, in the throngs of economic downturn, college advisor Wayne Tukes noticed a recurrent problem among his students – many of them could no longer afford to pay for their education. Tukes, who has been a mainstay at Columbia for over thirty years, collaborated with a group of other staff, faculty and the college’s Office of Institutional Advancement to start the Columbia Faculty and Staff Scholarship Initiative.
“We understood from the heart and mind that students could use some resources,” said Tukes. “All the money we’ve been able to raise goes directly to students.” According to Tukes, the initiative has been able to raise approximately $130,000 since its inception, all of which was directed to Scholarship Columbia and then matched by the college. Proceeds are matched 1-to-1 for every dollar donated by Columbia staff and faculty, and 2-to-1 if the person is also a member of Columbia alumni.
“Knowing this initiative was grass roots, that it came from my co-workers, definitely influenced my decision to contribute,” said Matthew Green, Director of Online Student Communications.
Tukes said that although funds raised by the initiative are currently put into other scholarships for Columbia students, there is the chance that it might one day become its very own scholarship as the program continues to grow.
The initiative has held several fundraising events such as a silent auction and Columbia’s Got Talent, a faculty staff talent show. In 2010, it was also acknowledged with a silver award for the Best Event on a Shoestring by the Council of the Advancement and Support of Education (CASE).
The talent show, hosted in December 2010, raised $16,300 for Scholarship Columbia this year, bringing the total contribution to the fund to $123,300 since it’s inception in 2009.
Tukes described the initiative as “kind of a love letter” from faculty and staff to students. “We want to help students be creative artists that contribute to the world,” said Tukes. “This is beyond just a paycheck and job description. This is something we firmly believe in – supporting, helping and educating students.”