Bethel University Foundation Funds $175,000 in Grant Proposals

Four proposals by Bethel faculty and staff receive funding to enhance enrollment and drive affordability.

By Aiyanna Klaphake '20

October 02, 2019 | 10 a.m.

Proponents of the four winning proposals received checks for their groups before the September 7 football game.

Proponents of the four winning proposals received checks for their groups before the September 7 football game.

Introduced in 2017, the Strategic Growth Award competition enables Bethel faculty and staff to obtain funding for projects of their own creation. While all projects are designed to enhance student enrollment or increase the affordability of a Bethel education, they vary in their particular focus. In the competition's pilot year, two proposals were chosen for funding, and four were chosen in 2018. This year, the Bethel University Foundation selected four of nine applications, each with a unique approach to supplementing Bethel's current programs.

"The selection process was very competitive this round," says Pamela Buchanan, senior corporate and foundation relations officer. "The Board is looking for innovative ideas that have the best potential for a good return on the award funds. They like to support ideas that need initial funding in order to get started, but programs that have ideas on how to be self-sustaining after the initial investment."


Women & Philanthropy

Funded at $45,000

Engagement, leadership, and a generous culture: all three serve as featured objectives of the Women & Philanthropy initiative, a project seeking to provide greater opportunities for women to meaningfully contribute to Bethel’s community.

"Women are a powerful philanthropic force," says Jeanne Osgood, associate vice president for development, "and this initiative will ensure that women engaged with Bethel have the chance to connect their philanthropic passions to the University."

The Bethel University Foundation grant will be distributed over three years, with a focus on providing promotional materials and events to initially establish the program. Osgood envisions the initiative boasting a long-term effect that will simultaneously impact the affordability of a Bethel education for future generations of students while promoting increased engagement with various departments and programs from alumna, current students and their families, and local business leaders. "Whether it’s in the arts, sciences, athletics, or any other area," Osgood says, "the possibilities to make a meaningful difference are countless."


Royal Roadshow

Funded at $30,000

"Bethel Admissions does a great job recruiting and showing what the Bethel experience is like, but faculty want to get involved," says Associate Professor Scott Winter. The Royal Roadshow provides the opportunity for up to ten faculty members to do exactly that by sending them into high school classrooms. The program seeks to create new and personalized pipelines into Bethel through establishing partnerships with schools and their students rather than recruiting directly. Students in specifically targeted high school programs will gain the opportunity to connect with and learn from Bethel's most engaging and dynamic professors, who will then invite students to continue their learning at Bethel. 

"[The Royal Roadshow] makes sense in the short-term to fill budget shortfalls, and it makes sense in the long-term to fill the base from which we recruit students," Winter explains. He adds that he hopes the project's alternative method for attracting students to academics will draw continually more diverse groups to Bethel in future years.


Digital Signage

Funded at $50,000

"We’re really looking for ways we can enhance the guest experience," says Michael Lindsey, "because first impressions are a big deal... I’m trying to be really strategic about putting myself in the mind of a guest who’s never been on campus, and removing obstacles to them saying 'yes' to a Bethel education."

As the director of campus planning and space management, Lindsey saw the Strategic Growth Awards as an opportunity to address possible confusion resulting from unfamiliarity with Bethel's campus. Digital signs provide a feasible and relevant solution. Offering flexible and clear options for both wayfinding and event messaging, digital signs will help to eliminate navigational or parking frustrations so guests can fully enjoy their time on campus.

The project is still in the planning stage, but the Bethel University Foundation grant will go toward two strategically-placed signs Lindsey expects to see installed by the Spring 2020 commencement. "We want to provide a welcoming experience and a clear, simple message with the right information in the right place," he says.


Military Enrollment Marketing

Funded at $50,000

There are 329,000 veterans in the Midwest. In 2018, Bethel counted 114 active military or veteran students enrolled. Both marketing and admissions staff saw the disparity between these numbers as an opportunity for growth. "We wanted to be more proactive," explains Director of Marketing Tim Hammer. 

Increased efforts are being made to assist military students in navigating their benefits and explaining how Bethel can provide a quality and cost-effective education. Starting in September, digital advertisements targeted prospective students with military associations. In October, further support for internal admissions communications will work to personalize the Bethel experience for military students.

Hammer says the goal is for Bethel "to be known in military circles as a place that sees and values service members and is a great next step in their career as they transition to civilian life… They are a group of people who've given in service to their country, and in response, the government gives them benefits. We can help connect them." 


Looking ahead, the Bethel University Foundation approved another $175,000 to be awarded in 2020. Applications for the Strategic Growth Awards open in January. 

Make an impact.

The Strategic Growth Award competition is one way the Bethel University Foundation supports the Bethel community. In addition, the foundation also provides donors with the support and resources to pursue their financial and charitable giving goals. 

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