Brothers from SigEp’s chapter at American University stepped in to assist one of their philanthropic partners when social distancing prevented the organization from holding a major fundraising event. Washington, D.C.–based SOUL Programs had to cancel its annual basketball fundraiser just days before tipoff. The organization supports development programs for low-income student-athletes ages 10-21.
Jason Koehn, American ’20, has been tutoring students in SOUL’s college prep program since 2019. While speaking with Donald Curtis, the group’s founder, Koehn learned the canceled fundraiser cost SOUL an estimated $40,000 in donations. The organization has responded by suspending plans to expand programming and may have to cut back on emergency financial assistance for students in its college program.
“I realized that it would take some creativity, but a virtual fundraiser could bring our chapter together, while supporting the amazing work of SOUL,” Koehn shared.
Koehn sought feedback from a chapter brother who had also interned with SOUL about the idea to hold a fundraiser. They thought it would be a good way for brothers to help out since they were disappointed they couldn’t support the organization by playing in the tournament.
During a weeklong series of virtual chapter get-togethers, brothers discussed SOUL’s mission and how the virus has affected the organization. While the main purpose of the event was to encourage brothers to contribute to the fundraiser, the get-togethers also served as an opportunity for them to catch up on each other’s lives and discuss their adjustment to social distancing.
By the end of the week, more than 40 undergrads, alumni and friends had donated, raising over $1,100.
Curtis expressed gratitude for the fundraiser and the chapter’s commitment to his organization. “I am beyond thankful for the dedication and support Jason provided us throughout the academic year,” he stated.
Koehn commuted 45 minutes each way from American University to SOUL. “For him to sacrifice that time each day to assist us with empowering our aspiring scholars is noble and a testament to his interest in making our local community more equitable,” Curtis added.
Proceeds from the fundraiser will be used as emergency aid to help program participants attending college out of state during the upcoming academic year pay for books, fees, groceries and transportation.
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