STORY BY JESSICA LYNK
Ninety eight percent of Drake University students receive financial aid in a given year, according to the Office of Financial Aid.
$47 million is awarded to students based on need and merit and that money has to come from somewhere: the alumni.
The Student Alumni Association (SAA), along with board of trustee member Joe Aiello and his wife Leslie, held their fifth and final student challenge in order to help raise money for the Distinctly Drake campaign.
The philanthropy week titled “Do Something Stellar” challenged 15 percent of the student body to donate from March 2-6 using the hashtag #15in15.
If that goal was reached, the Aiellos will donate $15,000 to the scholarship fund.
“The whole point of it is basically to just give back to the University. It is all about thanking alumni that have allowed us to be here and setting the stage for future bulldogs to come to Drake,” said senior international business major Emily Enquist, co-vice president of student philanthropy for SAA.
Both Joe and Leslie Aiello graduated from Drake in 1980 and 1979, respectively.
They started the campaign in 2010, after Joe and Leslie Aiello wanted to do something to challenge students.
They pledged $10,000 in 2010 and have upped the donation by a thousand dollars each year. Instead of just matching dollar for dollar, they wanted to do something to encourage student participation.
“We went to our future alumni to issue the challenge,” Joe Aiello said. “We just wanted to get people in the groove and get students aware of the fact that we all need charitable contributions to be able to get an education from Drake.”
The campaign gave students an opportunity to give back to Drake in a way that is different than most charities.
“It is a cool opportunity for students to really make a big impact,” SAA Vice President of Alumni Connections Lisa Beard said. “So many times you have philanthropy where you get a T-shirt and three dollars of that goes to that philanthropy, which is good, but with this every student who donates counts as a lot because we need the 15 percent. Every student is a part of that number and then it pays off with a big reward because we have the big donation coming in.”
Students can also see the direct impact from this philanthropy.
“A vast majority of students do receive financial aid and we all have been affected in one way or another, we have been in the Knapp Center Olmsted, Hubbell, all these places that have been the result of philanthropic gifts,” Enquist said.
The overall campaign, Distinctly Drake, reached their goal, but will continue though June. Joe Aiello hopes the whole campaign will propel students forward.
“I hope that the students do find this as a good first step in understanding what it takes to be educated at Drake, the financial commitment, not only from themselves and their parents, but from other alumni and complete strangers and other companies and everyone who donates,” Joe Aiello said. “I hope it is something they take very seriously because philanthropy is a really important part of life. You have to give back. That lesson can not be learned too early and not be reinforced too often.”