by Kate Lovin

In the midst of the challenging times we find ourselves in, generosity can be the most significant trait through which we demonstrate our humanity and decency. It can also make for the most uplifting and encouraging stories. So, even as we find ourselves quarantined in our homes and working from narrow laptop screens, this is a story worth telling …

A story of passion, of impact and—yes—of the incredible generosity of our UGA Parents Leadership Council.

It’s (Early) Saturday in Athens

Still wiping the sleep from their eyes, members of the Parents Leadership Council Grants Committee filed into Studio 225 early on a Saturday morning, their laptops and iPads in tow. Fresh off the heels of a big night at the President’s Reception and UGA vs. Florida GymDogs meet, they grinned at the sight of hot coffee and fresh pastries awaiting them as they stepped out of the cold. Once they settled into their seats with croissants and caffeine, we began.

With voting paddles (aka UGA popsicle stick fans) in hand, the committee worked together to evaluate 71 applications vying for their share of the $700,000 at stake. The meeting flew by in an auction-esque blur of numbers being shouted and makeshift paddles being raised and lowered. Although it was chaotic and fast, it was purposeful.

For the other word nerds out there, I referred to our good buddy Merriam-Webster for the exact definition of this word:

 

purposeful

adjective

having a purpose that is both meaningful and intentional

 

As I watched my first Grants Committee meeting unfold, I was awestruck at the level of careful consideration in the room. By no means were they implementing the Oprah Winfrey method (You get a car! You get a car! You get a car!) that I half expected. It was more… intentional.

Hard decisions were made

Full funding was carefully allocated to those organizations that needed it most, while partial funding was distributed among many others. Honest conversations and polite debates filled the air as committee members carefully weighed each request in light of the mission of not only their group, but of the University of Georgia as a whole. They strove to make thoughtful, smart choices to have the most meaningful impact.

Parental generosity

The goal of the PLC Grant Program is to help students thrive and dramatically enhance the undergraduate experience by creating a healthier, safer, and more enriching campus. With this in mind, the committee voted to approve funding that will:

  • Establish five new Georgia Commitment Scholarships
  • Help the student-run organization, Designated Dawgs, continue to provide students with safe rides from downtown Athens
  • Reduce student ticket prices for musical and theatrical productions at the Performing Arts Center
  • Provide programmatic support for the Professional Clothing Closet

And those are only a few of the ways the Parents Leadership Council will positively impact campus this upcoming school year.

One of the biggest impacts made this year? The creation of several endowments that will ensure the availability of emergency and need-based funding at the University Health Center. More than ever before, the Health Center possesses the power to cover the cost of both medical and mental health services for many students with great financial need. In addition, the PLC also added to existing endowments for the Student Veterans Resource Center and the Dean of Students Student Development Fund.

When all was said and done, the PLC Grants Committee had approved $700,000 of vital funding for 64 campus organizations and initiatives. This is the most funding it has ever been able to distribute, due to the generosity of Parents Leadership Council members and other Parents Fund donors. To date, the Council has disbursed over $3 million of grant funding. To see the full list of 2020-2021 PLC Grant Recipients, please click here.

As PLC weekend came to a close, council members filed out of the doors of Studio 225 in search of their kids and a warm meal, perhaps at The National or Last Resort, followed by a walk around downtown or a nice long nap back in their hotel rooms. Although they moved on with their day, as did we, I’m sure that none of us could shake the magic of the grant meeting. It was incredible to witness the groundbreaking, life-changing work that was happening in the simple raising and lowering of hand fans bearing that proud Georgia “G.”