Saginaw Valley State University students have demonstrated extraordinary commitment to supporting charities in the Great Lakes Bay Region through the annual Battle of the Valleys fundraising competition.
Michigan Campus Compact, an organization that recognizes college students serving as civically-engaged citizens, selected SVSU and Battle of the Valleys initiative as the recipient of the first-ever statewide 2016 Innovations in Community Impact Award.
“Battle of the Valleys has had a tremendous impact on our community,” said Renee Johnston, president and CEO of the Saginaw Community Foundation. “I love the fact that the concept is so unique: a combination of fun, competitive, charitable, and a great way to get involved.”
An annual fundraising competition between students from SVSU and Grand Valley State University, Battle of the Valleys is a one-week challenge. Since 2003, students have raised funds for their university’s respective charity partners during the week leading up to the rival schools’ annual football game.
“Of course, there is the positive financial impact on those charitable organizations who have been the beneficiaries of the funds raised, but there is also an impact on the community at-large,” Johnston said. “The dollars raised over the years have allowed organizations to provide services that address specific needs in the community.
“These students also are sending a positive message to the community through the commitment they are making through their fundraising and volunteer efforts.”
SVSU has won 10 of the 13 competitions — including the last eight — raising $331,329 of the $508,819 total. The university that wins the competition also receives the contest’s “Valley” trophy.
SVSU students in November 2015 once again brought the trophy back to their campus. SVSU won the Battle of the Valleys contest by raising $24,540 for Get Outside for a Healthy Inside, an affiliate of the Saginaw Community Foundation dedicated to improving physical fitness in Saginaw.
“We are very proud of our Saginaw Valley students in meeting this challenge, and their efforts to improve the health of all Saginaw residents,” said Sharon Dinse, coordinator for Get Outside for a Healthy Inside.
The 2015 Battle of the Valleys coordinator was SVSU student Natalie Schneider, a business management major from Saginaw Township. Schneider also was honored individually by Michigan Campus Compact with a Commitment to Service award for her extensive community involvement. She serves as the philanthropy chair for SVSU’s student government and is a Wolohan Fellow, part of a select group of Saginaw County students working to improve the image and quality of life for their hometown.
“Natalie and her classmates at SVSU stepped up to address the lack of adequate areas for exercise and enjoyment of the outdoors,” Dinse said. “We are using the funds to begin the process of creating and revitalizing neighborhood parks and trails.”
Schneider and her fellow SVSU students who helped organize the Battle of the Valleys initiative accepted the awards during the Michigan Campus Compact Awards Gala in East Lansing Thursday, April 7.