Inspire Awesome campaign gives back


By Erin Rebar, Contributing Writer

Inspire Awesome is more than just a scholarship campaign. “Inspire Awesome is a call to action for our faculty, staff and alumni that through your gift, through your support of our students, you are inspiring awesome,” Mike Westfall, executive director of the EWU Foundation, said.

Inspire Awesome’s main purpose is to raise funds for student scholarships. The campaign has been doing this by encouraging EWU faculty, staff and alumni, as well as the community as a whole, to make giving back one of their top priorities.

The Inspire Awesome campaign began May 1, 2015, and is expected to continue for the next few years. Currently, the goal of the campaign is to raise a total of $5 million over the course of three years. “It was the president’s idea,” said Westfall. “We’ve always fundraised for scholarships, but she wanted to make a strong push.”

This campaign is different from those of the past because, this year, it is highly focused, according to EWU President Mary Cullinan. “The fact that the campaign was given a name really helps,” said Cullinan. “It made it a priority.”

According to the EWU website, faculty and staff have made a total of 1,466 gifts and alumni have contributed 3,369 gifts so far. Altogether, over 6,000 donations have been made since the start of the campaign.

“We’ve raised $1.2 million since May 1. It’s been really exciting,” said Cullinan. “I put my $50,000 down as a matching gift so that faculty and staff would match that and they stepped up right away, so we had $100,000 there. And then the EWU Foundation put in another $25,000 as matching and faculty and staff stepped up and matched that right away. That was huge.”

When a donation is made, the money goes into the EWU Foundation, said Cullinan. “Some people give to athletics, some people give to the library, some people give to the Dean of Business. [The Foundation] keeps track of all that and makes sure the money goes to the destinations that people wanted them to go to. It may well be that someone in Engineering says, I want to give an Engineering scholarship. So it’s marked that way,” she said.

According to Westfall, the next phase of the campaign will focus on alumni and asking them to “Inspire Awesome in our students.”

The campaign has yet to experience any setbacks, Westfall said, knocking his knuckles twice on the wooden desk in front of him. “It’s going very, very well. The faculty and staff response has been absolutely fantastic and that really says a lot about our community.” Westfall said he is optimistic about the future of the campaign. “Our long-term goal is to raise $5 million,” he said. “Our short-term goal is to exceed that.”

As for Cullinan, she said she feels passionately about the campaign’s potential. “Really, what I want to see is a culture of giving on campus,” said Cullinan. “I believe that a huge way to get students graduated is to have more scholarships available. We want to make it possible for anyone who is qualified to be able to come to Eastern. We have so many students who are eligible for Pell and are the first in their family to go to college. There is just a lot of financial need. I meet a ton of people who wouldn’t be able to be here unless they had financial aid.”