K-State Proud close to reaching $1 million in donations


K-State Proud is celebrating its 10th year as an organization and has a new logo, goals and campaign kickoff planned this year.

“We are really trying to make this year big by dreaming above and beyond, to push a lot of participation within students, and really just make it the best year that it can be,” Katie Ahern, president of the K-State Student Foundation and senior in communication sciences and disorders said.

K-State Proud is a scholarship fundraising campaign led by K-State students that encourages others to make donations for Student Opportunity Awards. Ahern said that in the last nine years K-State Proud has raised $933,000 and is close to hitting the $1 million mark this year.

“We really couldn’t do what we do now and be able to celebrate hitting a million dollars and our 10th year as a program without the phenomenal support and dedication of our students,” Ahern said.

Jenna Harmison, K-State Proud adviser, said she estimates that 80 to 85 percent of the donations come from students. She said the remaining sponsorship comes from GTM Sportswear, K-State Super Store, K-State Athletics, Learfield Sports and Cox Communications to cover the expenses of t-shirts, marketing and promotions.

To keep the trend of student support going, K-State Proud wants to engage as many students as possible. This year, Ahern said K-State Proud has a goal stating, “10th year, 10,000 participants.”

“We know that it is a steep goal and we know that it is a pretty big undertaking, but we know the culture of K-State, we know how to do philanthropy here at K-State and we are just trying to inspire a positive culture here,” Ahern said. “We think it can be done.”

In past years, K-State Proud has reached between 3,000 and 6,000 participants depending on the year, according to Ahern. According to Harmison, the current goal of reaching 10,000 participants is a little more than 40 percent of the student body, and the group reaches out to different groups of students such as the global campus, nontraditional students, graduate students and traditional students. Ahern said she is optimistic and excited about the idea of reaching these different populations.

To honor the 10th year of K-State Proud, this year’s logo features an outline of the state of Kansas and Willie the Wildcat. Katie Azeltine, senior in fine arts and graphic design, designed this year’s shirt. She said she wanted the design to be something vintage and different from the more modern shirts previously worn.

“I feel honored that my design gets to be a part of something so big and so well-known on campus, and I am just really excited for the shirts to come out and the campaign to start,” Azeltine said.

The kickoff event for the K-State Proud campaign will be Oct. 7 on Anderson Lawn, according to Alec Khoury, vice president of campaigns for the Student Foundation and senior in economics. He said students can donate and receive a T-shirt, free food and hear from a student who has received a Student Opportunity Award.

In addition, if a student participates in the early buy-in campaign and then brings a friend who has not participated in the kickoff event, they are eligible to receive a gift.

Khoury said the T-shirt with the new logo is the main fundraising vehicle for K-State Proud. A minimum donation of $20 is required to receive a shirt.

According to Harmison, every dollar of a student’s donation goes toward Student Opportunity Awards with sponsorships and budgetary support from the KSU Foundation.

Ahern said the Student Opportunity Awards provide students with extensive financial need the ability to continue their education. She said that without such a donation, these students may not be able to continue their education due to tragedy or unmet expenses.

Over the past 10 years, 500 students have received the award, according to Harmison. She said fewer awards were given in the first couple of years, but the number of recipients has grown since then. On average, 70 Student Opportunity Awards have been given in the last five years.

“We want to engage students at K-State and let them know that there is a need for others students at K-State who wouldn’t be able to be here without K-State Proud,” Khoury said. “We would like to get that message out there and try motivate as many students as we can.”

Khoury said K-State Proud is all about students helping students.

“At K-State we always talk about the K-State family and the unique atmosphere here,” Khoury said. “Everyone feels it. Everyone talks about it when you come to K-State. K-State Proud and ‘Students Helping Students’ embodies that.”

Khoury encourages students who are interested in getting involved to attend a volunteer training or come to an event. They can engage with people who will tell them what they can do to get involved.

“Really, unlike anywhere else, K-State proud is one in a million, and I am so excited that I get to be a part of it all,” Ahern said.