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The Junior Board Rides Again! #UIOnTheBus

Just over four weeks ago, Urban Initiatives’ Junior Board laid down the gauntlet and committed to raising $25,000 during the 3rd Annual May Bus Campaign. Everyone was excited. The Bus Campaign, a huge show of teamwork and friendly competition, brings groups of Junior Board members together to raise funds in support of game day busing expenses for our 35 Work to Play schools. Each Friday, K-4th grade children on Urban Initiatives teams travel to participate in friendly soccer games against other Urban Initiatives players from schools and communities across the city.

In 2013, the Campaign raised $17,714; in 2014, the total was $22,922. This May, our incredible Junior Board went above and beyond our biggest stretch goals by raising $41,421. That’s a lot of bus rides! Check out the Campaign Page.

With 103 Junior Board members involved in the Campaign, creativity was the name of the game. Some went for old standbys. “The truth is that everyone we know and work with is always very receptive to the Work to Play program and Bus Campaign Initiative,” said A.J. Riddell, an Associate for Strategy and Development with the Cubs. “We just needed to find a way to catch everyone’s attention, and what better way to do that than provide free cookies?!”

Others, like Jay Wilson, a Vice President at Bancorp Holdings and Bus Campaign rookie, took a more direct route. “Personal interaction worked best with my campaign.  I found that mass emails and Facebook posts contributed small amounts, while a phone call or a personal text received larger donations,” Jay explained. “It’s humbling to know that your friends are so generous and kind hearted.”

Noha Salah, an Event & Experiential Marketing Manager at Groupon, found the Campaign’s tangible goals to be a huge help. “The Bus Campaign is a unique fundraiser because with every donation, you know exactly how your dollars are going to impact an individual child at a specific school,” she says. “The person who can only donate $10 knows that he or she has given one child a seat on a bus to soccer practice. Someone who donates $120 has ensured that two children will get to and from soccer games safely for a full year. The emotional connection provided with this fundraiser gives donors the motivation to contribute knowing that with every donation they will make an impact, no matter the denomination.”

Behind every great campaign is a great team leader. This year, that leader was Greg Friend, a Measurement & Insights Guru at Collective and one of the co-chairs of our Junior Board Fundraising Committee. “I love the Bus Campaign because it’s become something people can really identify with and rally around,” Greg says. “The Campaign allows us to evangelize about UI and its mission to our friends and families. We’re not just spreading the word; we’re making a tangible difference by raising tens of thousands of dollars for a cause we truly believe in. The Junior Board has consistently risen to the occasion for the Bus Campaign, and it never ceases to amaze me.”

As in years past, the number one spots for top individual and top team fundraisers were hotly contested. Leading the pack on the individual side, David Whitfield, an Associate at Whitfield, McGann & Ketterman, brought in a staggering $4,265. When asked about his secret, David explained, “Each person I approached about donating to the Bus Campaign was so impressed by Urban Initiatives’ mission that there was no question of support. It gives me great pride to be able to represent an organization that makes it so easy for people to say yes. It’s not often you find an organization that does exactly what it says; UI truly engages children, energizes the community, and actively contributes to a better Chicago.”

In the Team category, Team Jahn Elementary–Catie Wilber, a Senior Analyst at OMD; Ashley Dobbins, a Media Supervisor at Starcom Mediavest; and Shreya Canakapalli, an Institutional Consultant at DiMeo Schneider & Associates–took first prize for the second time in three years. The trio raised $7,591!

“We grew up playing soccer and know how fortunate we were to have the ability to interact with people from different backgrounds and travel to new areas,” Catie said. “It’s rewarding to bring those same opportunities to children at Jahn Elementary! The Junior Board’s success at raising money during the Bus Campaign is fueled by our belief in the benefits Urban Initiatives and this program bring to these children and the friendly competition of it all.”

Through June 1, month two of Urban Initiatives’ fourth quarter, they have raised $130,496! That’s up from a total of $113,715 last year.We are fortunate to have such an amazing team working on our behalf. A huge thank you to everyone on the Junior Board and to all the supporters who made our success in this year’s Bus Campaign possible!

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