Pay It Forward Fundraising

Ashland University Students Participate in Pay It Forward Campaign

Published on April 29, 2019
College of Business and Economics

4/29/19 ASHLAND, Ohio – Ashland University students from the Occupational Life Calling class and Public Relations courses participated in the Ohio Campus Compact Pay It Forward Campaign during the spring semester 2019.

The Ashland University students in these two courses volunteered more than 250 hours with six local non-profit agencies or organizations -- The Ashland Pregnancy Care Center, Ashland County Fairgrounds, Park Street Brethren Church, No Pawz Left Behind, RePlay for Kids and the Salvation Army Kroc Center --  while also conducting research, completing in-depth case studies and then advocating for grant funding.

As stated on the Ohio Campus Compacts website, “The Pay it Forward initiative is developing a new generation of philanthropists through an innovative course-based, service-learning program that engages Ohio college students in hands-on philanthropy, grant-making and volunteer service while providing community nonprofits with much needed assistance during difficult economic times.”

Shawn Orr, AU Public Relations instructor and faculty member for one of the participating courses, said, “This project had a tremendous impact on many of the students in my class. In addition to reinforcing the four parts of a strong public relations plan, the students had a direct experience building strategic relationships, which is the cornerstone of public relations.”

Samantha Reffner, a student in Orr’s class, said, “Participating in this project was a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. I was able to work with individuals I would have never had known otherwise and simultaneously built a relationship with the Ashland community in a way I never thought possible. This project put the words in our textbook into actions, which helped me understand the content and importance of public relations.”

At the conclusion of the semester, students presented their case studies, requests for funding proposals and competed against each other to award one of four $1,000 grants to their non-profit organization.

Orr told her students, “Every one of our community partners are winners whether they receive a grant or not because they have been helped by your volunteer hours and serve the Ashland community in a significant way.”

The grants, funded by the Ohio Campus Compact and through a generous donation by Ashland University Board of Trustee member Ron Alford, were awarded to the Kroc Center, No Pawz Left Behind, Replay for Kids and the Park Street Brethren Church during an awards ceremony at Ashland University on April 25.

The celebration began with an overview of the project by Margaret Pomfret, vice president of Institutional Advancement, and Richard Kinsley, executive director of the Ohio Campus Compact. Next, joined by their community partners, students presented the grant checks and then shared what this project meant to them. Rakayla Lewis of the Kroc Center said, “We are so thankful for the work these students did for the children at the Kroc Center and look forward to using the new equipment that will be purchased with the money.”

To close the ceremony, Dauch College of Business and Economics Associate Professor and 2019 Taylor Teaching Award Recipient Dr. Dan Fox challenged the students to continue their philanthropic efforts because “The return doesn’t stop after today. Reach out again to these partners; you know how, give back and consider what it means to leave a legacy.”

Ashland University, which has been ranked in the top tier of colleges and universities in U.S. News and World Report’s National Universities category, is a mid-sized, comprehensive private university conveniently located a short distance from Akron, Cleveland and Columbus, Ohio. Religiously affiliated with the Brethren Church, Ashland University ( deeply values the individual student and offers a unique educational experience that combines the challenge of strong, applied academic programs with a faculty and staff who build nurturing relationships with their students. ###