Neag School Receives $15K in 36 Hours During UConn Gives

The Neag School, including its Alumni Board, promoted four different education-affiliated projects, which were supported by 275 individuals.

Group of students gathering.

Students from the HESA program will benefit from professional development activities thanks to support from UConn Gives donors. (Shawn Kornegay/Neag School)

Thanks to around 275 individuals, the Neag School of Education garnered more than $15,000 in contributions during UConn Gives 2023. The annual University-wide fundraising event raised over $534,000 for UConn in just 36 hours, with incoming donations to support everything from scholarships and academic programs to student groups and athletics. The Neag School, including its Alumni Board, promoted four different education-affiliated projects during this year’s UConn Gives, held on March 8 and 9.

  • Dr. Sue Saunders HESA Professional Development Fund – $3,960 from 114 donors, plus a $3,300 matching gift from the Neag School Board of Advocates.
  • Neag School Alumni Board: Supporting the Passion and Talents of Tomorrow’s Educators – $3,540 from 69 donors
  • UConn Collaboratory on School & Child Health (CSCH) – $1,775 from 51 donors
  • Department of Curriculum & Instruction (EDCI): Forging a Path for Aspiring Educators – $2,765 from 40 donors

All four of these projects were also part of UConn Gives in 2022, and all four saw an increase in funds donated and individual donors over last year. For example, the Neag School Alumni Board went from 45 to 69 donors, EDCI from 30 to 40 donors, HESA from 21 to 114 donors, and CSCH from 17 to 51 donors.

One of these projects — the Dr. Sue Saunders HESA Professional Development Fund – came in first place among the four Neag School projects and is the winner of a matching gift challenge funded by the Dean’s Board of Advocates, adding an additional $3,300 to the project’s total.

The Dr. Sue Saunders HESA fund was established to honor the commitment and dedication of Dr. Saunders, long-time director of the Higher Education and Student Affairs program, to the development of graduate students in the program. This fund supports students who participate in professional development activities, including conferences, courses, webinars, association memberships, access to publications, research activities, and more.

“It has been wonderful to engage with Dr. Saunders as she continues to support our program.” — H. Kenny Nienhusser, associate professor and HESA program coordinator

“The Dean’s Board of Advocates’ additional funds will be transformative as it will allow us to promote greater engagement of our current students in professional development activities,” says H. Kenny Nienhusser, associate professor and HESA’s program coordinator. “This is especially important as we support their continued learning about higher education and student affairs.”

Since last year, the HESA program has been engaging Dr. Sue Saunders so she could help with their fundraising efforts. She provided a testimonial used in the campaign, and she rallied HESA’s alumni to consider giving.

“It has been wonderful to engage with Dr. Saunders as she continues to support our program,” Nienhusser says. “Also, many kudos to Ashley Robinson (HESA adjunct faculty and program coordinator assistant) for her masterful communications plan. And, of course, to Adam McCready (assistant professor-in-residence) for his engagement on our social media platforms to encourage giving.”

The second project, led by the Neag School Alumni Board, was again successful in encouraging alumni and friends to support the Neag School Alumni Board: Supporting the Passion and Talents of Tomorrow’s Educators fund. The Neag School’s Alumni Board is deeply invested in providing annual financial support to academically excellent students with financial hardships. In addition, the Neag School Alumni Board gives back through scholarships.

Last year, three Neag School Alumni Board Scholarships of $1,000 each were awarded to graduate students pursuing a master’s, 6th Year, or doctorate degree. For the Alumni Board to continue supporting future generations of Neag School students and ensure their ability to give, the Alumni Board appreciates the help from UConn Gives donors to significantly grow their efforts so that they may reach a level of an endowment.

“Funds raised during the UConn Gives campaign are used exclusively for presentation of scholarships to graduate students enrolled at the Neag School,” says Kim Wachtelhausen ’08 6th Year, president of the Neag School Alumni Board. “We are currently able to award three $1,000 scholarships to deserving students, and I look forward to increasing our ability to allow more students to be awarded.”

The third project, UConn Collaboratory on School & Child Health (CSCH), produces materials and technical assistance that schools can use to support child and staff wellness as they integrate health and learning. “Think about the Link” Project materials guide work in coordination of policies, processes, and practices relevant to school and child well-being.

“Funding will help us to create resources for schools that help them to integrate health and learning to support the whole child,” says Sandra Chafouleas, co-director of CSCH and a UConn Board of Trustees Distinguished Professor in the Neag School. “Funding also helps us share our resources at local and national conferences and professional development webinars for school staff.”

The fourth project, Forging a Path for Aspiring Educators: Defraying the Costs of Entering the Teaching Profession, which is organized through the Neag School’s Department of Curriculum and Instruction, provides funding for academic programs, clinical placements, and other initiatives designed to make a positive impact on tomorrow’s public schools, teaching force, and education leaders.

It is common knowledge that higher education costs leave many college graduates in considerable debt. Less well-known is that professional internship opportunities for some college students are often paid. Not so for prospective teachers, who spend hundreds of unpaid hours in clinical placements. Not only do those placements require transportation costs, but future teachers also need to pay for fingerprinting in the school districts to which they are assigned. Thus, not only are student teachers not getting paid for this real-world experience, but they are paying for it through tuition dollars and these added expenses.

“It is inspiring to see this level of support for our next generation of teachers,” says Todd Campbell, chair of the Neag School’s Department of Curriculum and Instruction. “It sends the kind of message we want to send to our students – we value teachers and are determined to disrupt barriers to entry into the teaching profession.”

UConn Gives 2023 may be over, but you can still offer support. See how you can help fund different efforts at the Neag School of Education.

UConn Gives fundraising totals are approximate and may be adjusted slightly as gifts are tallied.