One of the benefits of longevity within an organization is the institutional knowledge you possess about the origins of initiatives, programs and structures that persist to the present. My longevity at Luther enables me to speak about two funding opportunities that mean a lot to me and, more importantly, to the students who benefit from them. They are the Diversity Center Book Fund and the Sonya Lund International Student Emergency Fund.
The current book fund began as two book funds. One fund was a partnership with Alliant Energy in response to Adell Patton challenge at the First Black History Conference in 2004 to get Black books into Iowa school libraries. Alliant Energy funded the project. For about 4 years small grants were given to Iowa school districts to buy books that had won the Coretta Scott King Award or the Carter G. Woodson Award. The districts chose from those lists.
Later, an alumnus provided a $4,000 grant to Luther College to establish a book fund. At that year’s Black Alumni Reunion in Las Vegas in 2004, those alumni decided that the money would be used to help African American students with purchasing books.
In about 2007, The Diversity Center established new criteria for funding: a) the fund would provide one-time emergency grants to Luther students (of color) to help with retention and grades; b) students from diverse backgrounds including socio-economic were included as beneficiaries. These are still in place.
The Sonya Lund International Student Emergency Fund was established to honor Sonya Lund who served as the Director of International Student Services for sixteen years until she retired in 2002 from that position. This fund, as the name suggests, is intended to assist students with emergencies that could not have been anticipated and who, for various reasons, are unable to tap family resources and where time is of the essence.
What does this have to do with you? As you read this, if you feel called to assist with these efforts, know that your gifts and pledges will be greatly appreciated. Pledges and gifts can be made.