Through Their Contributions, Excelsior College Employees Help Make 2020 and the Holiday Season Brighter for Those Less Fortunate
Albany, NY — As Thanksgiving approaches and the need for humanitarian efforts remains prominent, Excelsior College reflects on gratitude and how simple acts of kindness through personal contributions can make an impact during a tough year. Excelsior College’s community engagement initiatives and efforts have remained strong with staff, faculty, and students from New York’s Capital Region and beyond giving their support to different causes while social distancing.
During COVID-19, Excelsior College received many requests to help charitable organizations and address basic needs such as food insecurity. According to NYS Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed (ALICE) data, 11 percent of households in the Greater Capital Region earn an income below the federal poverty line, and 30 percent of households are considered ALICE, which are working families that earn more than the federal poverty level but do not earn enough to cover the basic costs of living. The COVID-19 pandemic accentuated existing challenges and inequities for these families across the Capital Region.
As Excelsior College, a not-for-profit online college in Albany, N.Y., transitioned to a mostly remote workforce in mid-March, the employee-led Community Engagement Group began to shift its efforts to volunteer remotely, raise funds online, and contribute to collection drives. Since that time, employees have personally contributed over $22,000 to charitable organizations, including $13,000 in student scholarships this year.
Highlights of Excelsior College’s philanthropy in 2020 include
Annual Volunteer Week
- To make sure our Annual Excelsior Cares Volunteer Week remained intact, in April, employees shifted from their usual in-person volunteering to donating $2,800 to benefit 14 local non-profit organizations.
Getting Creative with Community Engagement
- In September, we hosted our first virtual volunteer fair so employees, faculty, students, and alumni could learn about volunteering remotely, rather than in person, while still making an impact in their hometowns. Representatives included the United Way, American Red Cross, American Heart Association, Head Count, the Regional Food Bank of Northeastern New York, and American Cancer Society.
- In October, 30 employees participated in the American Heart Association October Field Days Challenge. Excelsior College was excited to be the first organization in the Capital Region and among the eastern states to support this event, which allowed employees to participate while working remotely. They engaged in a four-week friendly competition of exercise, eating healthy, sharing gratitude, raising money, and promoting awareness to benefit those impacted by heart disease. The employees also raised more than $2,300.
Supporting Student Scholarships
- In 2020, 105 Excelsior College employees have contributed $13,803 to student scholarships at the College. The impact of these funds makes it possible for students to persist to degree completion and reduces their financial burdens.
Raising Money for Collection Drives
- From October to November, Excelsior College employees donated $1,095 for Equinox to provide wholesome Thanksgiving dinners to lonely, homebound, and homeless neighbors around the Capital Region. This equates to 109 Thanksgiving meals.
- For the Making Strides Breast Cancer Walk 2020 in October, Excelsior College raised $1,136 to help ensure that no one dealing with a breast cancer diagnosis might have to face it alone.
- In October, Excelsior College also raised $850 for the Regional Food Bank Hunger Action Challenge. We helped the food bank surpass its goal and reach 32,852 meals in 30 days.
To make the holiday season a little brighter for members of our local community, Excelsior College will once again support the Albany County Adopt A Family campaign and the Northern Rivers Holiday Giving Campaign by collecting gift wishes.
Even Excelsior College students are exploring ways to volunteer and make an in impact during a pandemic. Four Excelsior College graduate students are participating in the Business Case Competition sponsored by the International Accreditation Council for Business Education (IACBE) this month. Students Christine McCormick of Rhode Island, Michelle Tochiki of Indiana, Joseph Graham of Mississippi, and Ronald Kiernicki of Indiana are developing strategic solutions for challenges identified by Ronald McDonald Charities in Jacksonville, Fla. They are considering issues resulting from 400 volunteers having to work remotely to support the organization.
Working remotely has not changed Excelsior employees’ commitment to supporting organizations and those in need. Inspired by the premise that a strong social fabric creates opportunity, the Community Engagement Group maintained its mission despite social distancing and the changing volunteer experience for the organizations they support.
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Media Contact Excelsior College:
Alicia Jacobs, firstname.lastname@example.org, 518-410-4624
ABOUT EXCELSIOR COLLEGE
Excelsior College (excelsior.edu) is an accredited, not-for-profit online college focused on helping adults complete their degrees and advance their careers. The college contributes to the development of a diverse, educated, and career-ready society by valuing lifelong learning with an emphasis on serving individuals historically underrepresented in higher education. Founded in 1971, Excelsior meets students where they are — academically and geographically — removing obstacles to the educational goals of adults pursuing continuing education and degree completion. Our pillars include innovation, flexibility, academic excellence, and integrity. Learn more at excelsior.edu.