Schools fund Haiti relief

Feb. 9, 2010, 1:04 a.m.

According to the latest statistics from the ASSU Haiti Earthquake Response Web site, 3,388 people from 23 colleges have raised more than $305,000 in a unified relief effort benefitting Partners in Health since the Haiti earthquake struck Jan. 12.

For the community members who rallied around the tragedy, the money was an immediate way to help an estimated 200,000 injured and 2 million homeless Haitians in the wake of the magnitude 7.0 quake.

Dartmouth emerged as a leader in the fundraising effort, raising more than $189,000 for the relief effort in conjunction with Partners in Health — more than any other participating school.

“We are fundraising because the one thing we can provide as students is money for health care and medicine,” said Maura Cass, a co-founder of Students at Dartmouth for Haiti Relief.

“It’s so easy to get captured in your own moment, your own environment,” Cass added. “But the utopia of college is not the real world, so I think that if you don’t act then no one else will.”

Universities across the country found similar ways to raise money for Haiti. Facebook groups, which aimed to raise awareness, sprung up in a matter of hours. Duke University, Harvard University, Howard University, San Jose State University and UC-Berkeley all held benefit concerts.

Some schools also found unique ways to fundraise for Haiti. Notre Dame donated concession revenue and collected donations from fans at men’s and women’s basketball games, raising $250,000 in total. Yale University held a silent auction of student and faculty artwork. The University of Miami sold shirts featuring words like “resilience,” “service” and “pride.”

At Stanford, ASSU executives organized a nationwide university challenge to raise money for Partners in Health. The idea for this competitive fundraiser arose after ASSU President David Gobaud, a co-terminal student in computer science, contacted the Stanford student body in a campus-wide e-mail.

“We knew we wanted to do something more . . . we knew that we wanted to get other schools involved,” Gobaud said.

The executives soon introduced the ASSU Haiti Earthquake Response Web site. Since the site’s launch, 24 schools have joined the challenge.

FACE AIDS, a Stanford-founded group, joined the Haiti relief initiative with the goal of fundraising $50,000. The group exceeded its target goal in six days and accrued $51,775, said FACE AIDS Executive Director Julie Veroff ’07.

“I think one of the fundamental values underlying Stanford University and FACE AIDS is social justice, and I think people really rallied around the idea that with a small contribution, people could really make a difference in the lives of people who need it most,” Veroff said.

Sterling Stamos, a Menlo Park-based investment firm, matched the first $50,000 that FACE AIDS raised. Including this matching grant, participants in the national college fundraising challenge have raised $354,829.

Dartmouth was the first institution to join Stanford’s initiative and expressed its eagerness to participate even before site was launched. As of Monday, Dartmouth raised $189,068.

“Dartmouth had an amazing response,” Gobaud said. “I think Dartmouth, as far as going beyond fundraising . . . did a lot more. And we want to do more like what they did.”
Leaders at Dartmouth organized immediately. Cass pulled an all-nighter with fellow Dartmouth students Alex Schindler and Frances Vernon to form committees on outreach, communication and collecting supplies.

“The way to mobilize these 300-plus people was to break up into the committees who had already had a working to-do list of what needed to be accomplished, so people could walk away with a specific set of instructions,” said Vernon, who is also Dartmouth’s student body president.

“It was very grassroots to get people together,” Vernon added.

The other top contributors were University of Colorado at Boulder with $10,125, Brown University with $8,530, and Caltech with $8,391.

Stanford fundraising was largely done through outreach to dorm presidents, collaboration with Frosh Council and door-to-door visits by leaders of different campus groups. Stern dining ambassadors organized an event called “Heal Haiti,” which raised more than $3,000. The Graduate School of Business donated more than $2,000 to Haiti from their weekly social events.

Medical schools around the country also fundraised to help Haiti. Teams from the medical schools and affiliated hospitals at Columbia, Cornell, Dartmouth, George Washington, Harvard and Yale traveled to Haiti to provide medical services to the injured. Eight Stanford physicians and nurses also traveled to Haiti, carrying with them $18,000 worth of medical supplies.

Michele Barry, senior associate dean of global health in the School of Medicine, said that students, staff, faculty and community members raised over $182,000 in total. Stanford University, its medical school and hospital pledged $167,000 in matching funds. The money will be donated to Hôpital Albert Schweitzer, one of the few hospitals still standing in Haiti, Barry said.

“This is going to be a long process of rehabilitation,” Barry said. “This particular hospital, which has been there for 50 years, will need more support, and I’m going to try to develop a program to support them in manpower as well as send physicians.

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