Illinois State’s inaugural Redbird Philanthropy Week, which runs from February 25 to March 1, seeks to showcase the ways philanthropy facilitates Illinois State’s continual expansion upon its margin of excellence in education and the vibrancy of the campus community. As part of Redbird Philanthropy Week, Illinois State will hold its first-ever exclusive giving day, Birds Give Back, on Thursday, February 28. Private giving impacts everything at Illinois State from campus facilities to the student body. Highlighting the extent of its role in shaping students’ Illinois State experience is what Birds Give Back is all about.

Valerie Brown, a senior public relations major at Illinois State, has seen first-hand the impact philanthropy can have on students at the University. After all, she received The George Blankenship scholarship from her church for three years running. Being a recipient of the scholarship has had a tremendous impact on Brown and her studies, and she hopes that other Redbirds will develop a better understanding of how philanthropy shapes the lives of students like her during Redbird Philanthropy Week.

“I’ve gotten to see how giving supports a student’s education,” Brown said. “My parents don’t need to worry about me attending university and I don’t have to worry about my parents’ finances. It’s truly amazing, and I’m excited to see how Birds Give Back and Redbird Philanthropy Week help students see how the many opportunities they’ve gotten here at the University are supported by giving.”

The effect of private giving on the Illinois State student experience takes many forms. Gifts to Illinois State not only provide students scholarships but also fund campus improvements in the form of facility improvements and curriculum development, which affect every Redbird. Senior business administration major Megan Cain says that the gifts that go towards such projects are more important than ever.

“Tuition and the money that the University receives from the state doesn’t cover all of Illinois State’s costs,” Cain said. “That’s where philanthropy comes in. Philanthropy affects each and every student that the University serves. Although it may not affect an individual personally with a scholarship, it will help Illinois State as a whole which will then impact all students.”

Julia Gramont, a second-year master’s student in communication at Illinois State, is excited for Redbird Philanthropy Week and Birds Give Back to show students the ways in which they can contribute to the University’s continued advancement.

“I think Redbird Philanthropy Week will help make students aware of the fact that the experience doesn’t end here, that they can stay connected to the University by donating,” Gramont said.

Gramont, Cain, and Brown all plan to make a gift on Birds Give Back at one of the three mobile giving stations at The Bone Student Center, Watterson Dining Center, and Linkins Dining Center. Their hope is to help foster a culture of philanthropy amongst students at the University to help raise up their own class and generations of students to come.

“By donating on Birds Give Back, I hope that we can benefit another student now and after graduation,” Gramont said. “It’s like a passing of the torch. Even if we’re not here to experience it, we still want the University to grow and for students in the future to have the experience of attending an Illinois State that’s always on the rise.”