K-State Proud a symbol of tradition, philanthropy on campus

Christine Caban holds a K-State Proud button during the Collegian's Ask Me Live on Nov. 3, 2015. (Archive photo by George Walker | The Collegian)

After a failed student body presidential campaign, two Kansas State students began a conversation about supporting students through need-based scholarships. 13 years later, K-State Proud is the student-led fundraising campaign that operates under the vision of “students helping students.”

An initiative of the KSU Student Foundation, the campaign gives K-State students the opportunity to give back to their fellow students and “show their K-State pride through philanthropy,” according to the campaign’s website.

The “for students, by students” campaign donations benefit Student Opportunity Awards that are allocated to K-State students who have exhausted all other forms of financial support. Since the campaign’s inception, students have raised upward of $1 million and have helped more than 675 students stay at K-State.

Zac Donley, K-State Proud co-chair and senior in life sciences, said leadership and social media have been two significant drivers of change for the campaign.

The campaign planning team is comprised of the K-State Proud co-chairs, the Student Foundation president, the vice president for campaigns and the vice president for communications.

“This group is supported tremendously by our Student Foundation members who help develop a culture of giving on campus by providing opportunities for philanthropic leadership throughout the year,” Donley said. “We continue to strive for more public outreach, campus visibility, and the opportunity to help any student in financial distress.”

One of the biggest campaigns is the sale of the K-State Proud student-designed t-shirts, which are sold for a donation $20 or more. Donley said the T-shirts have become almost a symbol on campus.

“When I see one of my professors in a Proud shirt, it represents the culture that is unique to K-State,”Donley said. “We are a family and no one should have to leave K-State due to a temporary financial struggle. Through simply donating for a K-State Proud T-shirt, we come together to help and support our fellow students.”

Donley said the T-shirts are more than just a tradition, but also a reminder of philanthropy present in the K-State Family.

“When a student donates to the campaign, they are securing an education, graduation and future job opportunity for a fellow K-Stater,” Donley said. “I think a major part of Proud is making sure every student understands the impact that they make when donating.”

Donley said a goal for the campaign is to always be growing.

“The cool thing is that our leadership transitions every year, so we have fresh ideas and perspectives to capitalize on past leadership as well as implement new ideas to support K-State students,” Donley said. “We are always looking for new and innovative ways to increase our donations and then in turn, increase the amount of Student Opportunity Awards given to students.”

The campaign offers additional ways for students to get involved, including volunteer opportunities and applying to work with K-State Proud through the KSU Student Foundation. Volunteer trainings will be offered on Sept. 27 and Oct. 23.