For more than two years Oklahoma Christian University works to point its alumni back home, both physically, financially and relationally.
In 2012, Oklahoma Christian created the Homeward Program to both increase giving among alumni and spread awareness of then-new President John deSteiguer’s vision for the university, “OC is home.” In 2014, Homeward launched a new program component, Homeward Pride, to specifically involve the university’s social clubs.
“It runs hand-in-hand with Homeward because we then target the clubs, and the clubs reach out to their alums,” Annual Giving Coordinator Aimee Furrie said. “Homeward Pride is a competition, but it helps to support Homeward and raise those numbers, raise the alumni participation, the whole idea of bringing people back to campus, staying in touch with our alums — all of that is just another supporting component.”
Homeward itself runs on the university’s fiscal year, June 1 to May 31, but Homeward Pride is a one-week section of the program. Although in the past Homeward Pride occurred in the spring semester, this year it will take place Nov. 27-Dec. 3.
During Homeward Pride each social club chooses a passion project, which can be a club mission effort, scholarship or even a mentoring program to donate to. Throughout the week club members will get in contact with their social service club’s alumni for donations towards their project through call-outs, Christmas cards and events.
“It’s a really neat way to be able to connect with alums and to let them know what we’re doing, the things students are passionate about and where their money is going as well,” Furrie said.
This year the clubs’ passion projects include Alpha Gamma Omega supporting the Alpha Knights Treasury, Chi Lambda Phi supporting the Adam Langford Scholarship, Delta Gamma Sigma supporting the Delta Scholarship, Gamma Rho supporting the Gamma Service Award, Iota Kappa Phi supporting the Iota Mission Award, Kappa Sigma Tau supporting the Welcome Home Kits for International Students, Pi Zeta Phi supporting the Breaking Chains Honduras ministry, Psi Epsilon supporting the Psi Samurai Scholarship and Tri Theta supporting the John Thompson Scholarship.
According to Furrie, Homeward Pride goes beyond raising money. Furrie said one of the main aspects of the program is to build relationships between club members and alumni.
“It allows students to connect with people who are similar to them, who have gone through some of the same things as them and then build relationships that way,” Furrie said. “I think it’s really beneficial to students and I think it’s really neat for the alums to have those relationships as well.”
Director of Advancement of Operations Will Blanchard said not only does Homeward Pride help the university, but it also teaches students the importance of giving back once they graduate.
“It’s rare we get to have a project that’s just win, win, win, and Homeward Pride is one of those projects,” Blanchard said. “One of the things we talk about a lot is that we want our students while they’re here to understand how the university works. The university does not exist without millions of dollars from other people investing, and that’s not to downplay that it’s expensive, but we want our students to know it’s a worthwhile investment.”
According to Blanchard, one of the goals of Homeward Pride is to build a foundation of support for the university among current students for future giving.
“Our hope is in 10, 20, 30 years from now we’re going to have a generation of students who have done this and who believe in it,” Blanchard said. “We’re no longer going to have to sell to graduates that supporting your alma mater is a good, feel-good thing. It’s something they’re already bought into.”
Homeward Pride will kick-off Sunday, Nov. 27. Each day of the week will include a different hashtag for both current club members and club alums to use on social media, as well as a different event or method for clubs to reach out to their alumni.