Eileen Baldwin is the assistant director of alumni engagement and Tiffany Wynn is a senior public relations strategist at Carroll University (@carrollualumni) in Waukesha, Wisconsin.
More than 46 million Americans don’t have enough to eat. Engaging alumni nationwide can be challenging. At Carroll University, an initiative was created to address both issues.
For the past five years, Carroll University and its constituents have contributed more than 150,000 meals to communities in need through its National Service Project. The annual food drive serves dual purposes—to give back to local communities and to keep alumni meaningfully engaged—that when mixed together, create a winning recipe for successful alumni engagement.
When this year’s service project began in April, the month-long initiative was embraced by alumni, faculty, staff, emeriti, friends and prospective and current students who rallied together to exceed the goal of providing 45,000 meals. With the help of these participants and several collection site partners, a total of 51,320 meals filled the plates of hungry children, women and men.
Carroll University prides itself on a legacy of service, and the National Service Project has become an instrumental tool for furthering the university’s reach beyond campus. Each year, alumni are given the opportunity to put values into action by contributing in many different ways: monetary support, food donations at a local food bank or pantry or through volunteering at a local food bank. These actions result in higher participation levels year-after-year. Regional alumni champions bring awareness to Carroll alumni in their respective states. This year’s champion involvement nearly tripled from the previous year and spanned from California to Maine. The goal in coming years is to increase alumni participation by securing alumni involvement in all 50 states.
The National Service Project partners with Feeding America, a nonprofit organization with a national network of food banks. In fact, the project is Feeding America Eastern Wisconsin’s largest university collaboration.
One reason alumni participation continues to grow year after year is because Carroll makes it easy for alumni to participate in a project that connects personal values to the university’s mission. It is easy for alumni to report their participation via the university’s website, and several ways for them to make an impact in their local community, no matter where they live.
Carroll University’s moniker is the Pioneers. The 2015 National Service Project motto reads, “Pioneers give. Plates fill. Hope builds.,” and that motto continues to live in the hearts of Carroll alumni–promising success for Pioneers Feeding America in the years ahead.