129 Years Going Strong
Each year, the Meredith community celebrates the College’s founding by honoring strong women who have made it possible for students to continue receiving their Meredith education. Alumnae, faculty, parents and friends show their support for Meredith by giving monetary gifts to the College on Giving Day, an event that is always held on the Tuesday of Founders’ Week and is in its fifth year, according to Erin Cleghorn, director of the Meredith Fund. Cleghorn explains that the theme of Giving Day is always “to honor a strong woman.” In addition to donors giving in honor of a fellow classmate, family member or faculty member who has “made a difference in their lives,” “there are also a number of people who have had Meredith colleagues or Meredith connections, and they want to give in honor of them.” On this year’s Giving Day, 2,392 donors honored over 1,300 women by raising a total of $638,960, surpassing the college’s $500,000 goal.
According to Cleghorn, donors can designate how they want their funds to be used, but the majority of donations are designated to go toward “the college’s greatest needs,” which is a huge help for the budget. Many classes also have special projects that they support with their donations, and a number of donors fund specific scholarships or Meredith’s athletic or study abroad programs. The majority of donors resided in North Carolina, but Meredith received Founders' Day donations from 38 out of 50 states.
In addition to Giving Day, the Meredith Fund does fundraising all year long and hosts a faculty and staff campaign in the fall each year. While many of the funds from these additional fundraisers go towards scholarships that “give [students] more opportunities,” they can also fund “everything from individual departments on campus to the grounds and maintenance.” The college’s endowment, which “helps the general wellbeing and life of the campus,” also benefits from these fundraisers.
A new way that Meredith celebrated its founding this year was with a special visual display in downtown Raleigh. At about 7 p.m. each night, from Feb. 13 to Feb. 20, a short video highlighting how Meredith is “going strong” was projected onto the side of the Marriott City Center building. This location, close by Meredith’s original location, allowed word to spread to more people about Meredith’s many undergraduate and graduate programs.
Meredith also hosted a variety of fun challenges during Founders’ Week to encourage participation in Giving Day including a competition between Odds and Evens to see who could raise more money. A social media challenge that inspired members of the Meredith community to show how they #MakeItCount4MC also took place during Founders’ Week. The challenge included themes like “Worldwide Wednesday,” which showcased how Meredith students come from all over the world and get involved in study abroad programs, and “Friendship Friday,” which celebrated priceless Meredith friendships that last a lifetime.
Cleghorn expresses how she wants to “share how important alumnae giving is to this campus,” as the support of alumnae is “what keeps Meredith College here.” She explains that “women’s colleges are kind of an endangered species,” so it is “a wonderful thing to have our graduates love this pace so much that they give back."
By Molly Perry, Staff Writer