Article Category Archives: Giving Matters

Frisbee Bonds Lead to ‘Ultimate’ Scholarship

When vision and means meet, a dynamic story unfolds. Sun Ultimate Frisbee, a 501(c)(3) organization established an endowed scholarship in February 2018 through the Truman State University Foundation, and their story strongly portrays this dynamism.

The vision began when a group of alumni friends gathered over a meal. The peers developed a friendship during the early 2000s while participating on the men’s (JujiTSU) and women’s (TSUnami) ultimate frisbee teams. The group saw a need for an organizing body of college-level ultimate frisbee tournaments. Soon after, Sensei Ultimate was born, which was later renamed Sun Ultimate Frisbee.

Glory Days is the non-profit’s signature event, and 2018 will mark its 13th consecutive year.

“It’s a fall-season – recruitment season – tournament aimed at providing college teams the type of experience that gets their newcomers out on the road, gelling with their new teammates and participating in an ultimate tournament they’ll not soon forget,” Bret Gramlich (’06) said.

Participants frequently quote the event as their favorite or most memorable tournament of the year. Glory Days averages about 50 collegiate teams, or around 1,000 athletes, in both open and women’s divisions, and is usually located around the Chicago area. The tournament is typically organized in the months before by a handful of alumni, but to properly host the event around a dozen more alumni – and family – attend to help during the tournament weekend.

“Now that many of us are participating in coaching our kids’ and neighbors’ athletic experiences, drawing upon our memories of the past only continues to increase in value,” Gramlich said. “So now, in a variety of ways, we’re simply trying to help as many others as possible become better people through sport.”

The Sensei Alumni Ultimate Frisbee Endowed Scholarship is designated to support students participating on either the men’s or women’s ultimate frisbee team with financial need who demonstrate leadership, inclusion, sportsmanship, selflessness and player/team development.

The non-profit was recognized during the spring Foundation Banquet on Truman’s campus for their generosity and induction into the John R. Kirk Memorial Society. Once the fund generates sufficient earnings on the principal, the scholarship will open for applications.

Gift Provides Support Through Competition

Alumni donors are more important than ever to ensuring Truman’s tradition of excellence continues. Every year, thousands of alumni contribute back to their alma mater supporting scholarships, academic departments, athletics and more. Regardless of the size of the contribution, these gifts enhance the quality of the Truman experience for students and help build for the future.

While it’s certainly true that donations of all sizes make a big difference, that is a message that can be hard to communicate – especially to younger alumni. Unfortunately, the more time that passes after graduation, the less likely an alum is to give back at all. And those who do give back longer after graduating tend to give less than those who start giving back right after college.

This was a challenge that Colleen Ritchie (’84) understood very well from her service to the Foundation Board of Directors. The goal of the Foundation Board is to inspire philanthropy and impactful relationships with the University. Ritchie offered her own resources to do just that. She pledged $50,000 over five years to be used as challenge money to motivate young alumni and students to give back to Truman. Ritchie’s support helped donors see firsthand how their smaller gifts made a big difference during Truman’s first #BulldogsGiving. Thanks to her generosity, 225 alumni, parents, friends, faculty and staff gave back to the first #BulldogsGiving, starting a giving tradition that grew even larger the next year. In 2017, #BulldogsGiving featured five crowdfunding campaigns with campus groups working to attract donors to their cause. Within one week, 342 people had donated to the University in support of scholarships, the Truman band and athletics.

Ritchie’s matching funds have also supported student giving initiatives. Over the past two years, the student giving campaign has featured student-run crowdfunding campaigns competing for matching donations. The student giving campaigns worked not only to communicate the impact of smaller donations but also to show students how gifts benefit them directly. The 2018 campaigns raised money to equip the Bike Co-op with bikes for a bike share program, to provide free STI testing through the Student Health Center, sponsored by the Women’s Resource Center, and to upgrade radio equipment for KTRM. Run by students for students, more than $11,000 was raised for these three causes in one week. With match money, more than $21,000 went directly to causes important to students on campus.

Great things have happened because Ritchie invested in inspiring students and young alumni to give back, but that’s just the beginning. Ritchie has continued her commitment to creating a culture of philanthropy at Truman by making a pledge during the “Pursue the Future” campaign. Her vision will continue to help educate and motivate younger donors to get in the habit of giving back to Truman. About her goals for the future, Ritchie says, “Long term, my hope would be to turn these new donors into lifelong contributors, willing to give back to Truman by leaving their legacy behind. They make a significant impact by enabling future students to pursue the Truman way.”