Bethel University Foundation Announces 2020 Strategic Growth Award Recipients

The two initiatives are aimed to provide connection and community for both current Bethel students and prospective students. The partnerships with local schools and churches will help Bethel’s continued involvement in the community and facilitate the growth of students' academic and leadership opportunities.

By Carolynne Camp '21

June 26, 2020 | 2:45 p.m.


Bethel's Youth Crew 2020

In a time of uncertainty for many, the Bethel community continues to provide hope for the future. This June, the Bethel University Foundation announced the recipients of the 2020 Strategic Growth Awards, which will fund an initiative up to $50,000. This year, two recipients were chosen for their plan to enhance enrollment at Bethel and make a Bethel education more affordable.

Since 2017, the Bethel Foundation has used the Strategic Growth Awards to fund many initiatives; from the Royal Roadshow, which sent faculty directly into high school classrooms to build connections, to the Zero-Cost Course Resources initiative, which eliminated traditional textbooks and switched to library resources in the CAPS program.    


PSEO Inquiry Seminar 

The PSEO Inquiry Seminar in High Schools plan was awarded $34,757 to offer Inquiry Seminar on high school campuses. Inquiry Seminar is a required class for Bethel students that allows students to develop an understanding of a liberal arts education, create community, and practice writing, speaking, and research skills.

Bethel currently has a partnership with Hmong College Prep Academy that will allow PSEO classes to be offered, which will increase enrollment and encourage students to continue their education at Bethel. This program will also prepare students with the necessary skills for college and further encourage students to pursue their education. 

“Bringing PSEO courses to high schools will expose more students to Bethel. In addition to opening up course opportunities for students who don't want to or don't have time to leave their high school campuses, we can offer these courses to juniors,” Kristen Nichols-Besel, adjunct assistant professor of general education and teaching coordinator, and the project manager for the initiative, says.  

While COVID-19 has thrown a curveball on many plans, Kristen Nichols-Besel, is confident that it will not negatively impact the project as the first year is built around planning and implementation of the project.


Youth Crew 

In an effort for Bethel University to continue connection and engagement with local churches, Bethel University’s Youth Theology Institute began piloting Youth Crew. Youth crew is a team of undergraduate students that provide programming and support to local churches. This allows for connections between prospective students and current Bethel students and actively engages Bethel in the needs of local churches. This program will allow Bethel to further engage with churches in the Twin Cities area, allow for prospective students to create relationships and develop spiritually, and involve Bethel students with the project process. 

“There were two inspirations for the development of Bethel's Youth Crew,” thesis advisor and project manager Katie Friesen Smith says. “The answer was [to] recruit Bethel students to go out and provide a free evening of youth programming at a local church. The second inspiration is linked to Bethel's value of developing truth-seekers and world-changers. I believe Youth Crew provides an opportunity for both Bethel students and high school students to grow in these ways.”

Youth Crew was awarded $49,600 to continue its influence through youth engagement, youth pastor lunches, and on-campus retreats. The team has been actively working to implement as many goals as possible for the project during the unprecedented season. Many of their engagement activities have been moved online through video programming, a #everydayjustice calendar for individuals to encourage everyday participation, and continued networking with other local churches.


Grow the future. 

The Bethel University Foundation strives to serve the Bethel community by ensuring the financial strength of Bethel and giving back. Learn more about how you can support the Bethel Community.

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