For as long as Nadine Bentis can remember, she cared about supporting others. So, when she came to UNLV to lead the Troesh Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation in the Lee School of Business, she began incorporating service-learning projects into her work.
She also began supporting Rebels Give, the annual online fundraising initiative which will be launching its third annual fundraising blitz beginning at 9:30 a.m. Tuesday.
“I take pride in where I work,” said Bentis, who earned a doctor of education degree from the University of Southern California. She said she is inspired to help others through all of her actions, including curriculum and program design, conscious capitalism, and philanthropy.
“When you can help your own community, everyone benefits. If you can give $5 to a scholarship fund, give $5 to a scholarship fund.”
This week, everyone will have the chance to donate $5 or more to UNLV through Rebels Give. Branded as 1,957 minutes of fundraising – a period of time selected in honor of UNLV’s founding year of 1957 – Rebels Give is a campus-wide initiative that encourages everyone to get involved: from long-standing UNLV donors to new alumni, to students, faculty, and staff.
An Inclusive Group of Donors
Rather than aiming to reach a specific fundraising goal, this year’s Rebels Give is placing an emphasis on building awareness and deepening the appreciation for what philanthropy means to a university. The decision not to focus on a fundraising goal is recognition of the pandemic’s economic toll on Las Vegas. Instead, the hope is that everyone catches the spirit and gives what they can – and then enjoys watching the fundraising totals climb in real time at the Rebels Give website.
“Whether it’s a small one-time contribution or a major gift, private support sustains critical programs and launches new ones,” said President Keith E. Whitfield. “It gives students the help they need to achieve their goals, and it ensures a bright future for UNLV.”
Like many online fundraising campaigns, Rebels Give is offering challenges and matches to spur additional giving through friendly competition. For example, members of Whitfield’s presidential cabinet have pledged $5,000 and are encouraging others to match – or even surpass – their gift.
But what difference does philanthropy actually make to a large public university like UNLV?
Philanthropy establishes the margin of excellence to transform students’ lives, set the trajectory of discovery, and shape the skyline of campus, according to Rickey N. McCurry, vice president of the Division of Philanthropy and Alumni Engagement and president of the UNLV Foundation. To him, the impact of philanthropy is more than just dollars – it also has a psychological effect on alumni, donors, and the community.
“When faculty and staff give to the institution, it demonstrates that we believe in our university and its mission,” McCurry said. “When donors step up, and share why they support UNLV, it encourages others to follow suit.”
Students at the Center
Supporting students is what motivates Blake Douglas and Sabra Newby to give. Among other programs, Douglas supports the UNLV Hope Scholars program, which provides homeless youth with secure housing and academic and financial support while attending UNLV.
“Ever since I had an opportunity to meet some of the Hope Scholars, it has become a focus area of mine. I get emotional just talking about it,” said Douglas, the interim associate vice president of alumni engagement and interim executive director of the UNLV Alumni Association.
Newby, vice president of government and community affairs, gives to emergency funds that help students stay in school in the face of the economic crisis.
“We have a really unique campus with a unique student body,” she said. “To the extent I can help students persevere and get their degrees, that’s what I’m all about.”
Funding raised through Rebels Give supports more than just scholarships. Academic and athletic programs are also beneficiaries. For example, challenges and matching gifts that are kicking off the event include support for the Howard R. Hughes College of Engineering, the PGA golf management program, and the Academic Success Center.
Through the course of the event, more and more matches and challenges will be unlocked. That creates part of the excitement and sustained opportunity for everyone to get involved.
“Every gift, no matter the size, will make a lasting impact," Whitfield said. "They will directly help Rebels create, inspire, learn, and succeed for years to come.”