People give to causes they believe in. And for Andy Cahn, that cause is CTY.
Cahn has taught Geometry Through Art at CTY’s Santa Cruz, Calif. site for the last three years. He’s also a regular contributor to the CTY Staff Scholarship Fund, which provides scholarship support to students from families of limited financial means to participate in CTY summer and online programs.
“I believe in the program. I see the results in kids whose lives are changed by CTY,” says Cahn, a high school teacher in suburban Seattle. “Part of the experience at CTY is the tremendous diversity and everyone benefits from it. You’ll have kids from all over the world, kids from extremely poor backgrounds, and those from very affluent backgrounds. And they come to CTY as full equals and become part of a community. You can’t get that anywhere else.”
The CTY Staff Scholarship Fund was started by a small group of CTY staff nearly 20 years ago. In the last five years, the effort has helped 18 students attend CTY summer and online programs through full and partial scholarships, says Kennette Mitchell, CTY’s financial aid manager and a co-chair of the CTY Staff Scholarship Campaign.
In addition to traditional appeals, the staff-led campaign has explored a variety of creative fundraising methods over the last two decades. One year a staff member shaved his head at the culmination of a fundraising challenge. There have been chili cook-offs, staff cookbooks, candygrams, a pizza party, and even a walkathon. “No price” bake sales raise as much $500, Mitchell says.
Neetu Dhawan-Gray has given to the CTY Staff Scholarship Fund since she began working as a CTY outreach coordinator 10 years ago. Now the organization’s assistant director for school, parent and community relations, she continues to support the fund because it helps her feel connected to CTY.
“I feel like in some small way through CTY I get to contribute to people’s lives,” she says. “I’m not trying to save the world but in my own little world I can try to make a difference.”