A University of Wisconsin-Green Bay alumni giving challenge met with tremendous success during the 2011-12 academic year, raising more than $142,000 to fund academic programs and student scholarships.
The Chernick/Wochinske Challenge started during fall semester 2011, when 1974 alumni, Green Bay business owners and longtime friends Rick Chernick and Jim Wochinske announced they’d match each new dollar donated during the annual Alumni Phone-a-Thon, up to $50,000. That means every gift from a first-time donor would be matched in full, along with new dollars from increased gifts from alumni who had given in the past.
UW-Green Bay alumni responded quickly and positively to the challenge, and during the course of the campaign contributed $92,362 in matchable dollars, both new gifts and increases in giving from the prior year. With Chernick and Wochinske’s generous match, the challenged raised a total of $142,362 that will directly benefit current and future students at UW-Green Bay.
“Rick and Jim showed outstanding leadership and generosity in issuing the Chernick/Wochinske Challenge during fall 2011,” said Beverly Carmichael, assistant chancellor for University Advancement. “It is because of their vision, and pride in their alma mater, that this campaign was such a remarkable success. We truly cannot thank them enough.”
Deciding to initiate the challenge wasn’t difficult, say Chernick and Wochinske, both Distinguished Alumni Award winners — as long as they could do it together.
“We felt that if someone knew a $10 donation was $20, and so on, it would motivate the individual giver to help,” said Chernick, owner of Camera Corner/Connecting Point in Green Bay. “We also felt many who knew us personally would use this to zap us a little, in fun and for a great cause! We are thrilled to be in a position to help — the University gave both Jim and me an opportunity, many years ago, to not only get a great education but to continue to work in our family businesses at the same time.”
Supporting UW-Green Bay is more crucial than ever, Wochinske added. He noted that tuition in 1974, when the pair graduated with degrees in Managerial Systems, was less than $600 for the year. Today, it’s more than $5,900, not including student fees or other expenses.
“We both realize how critical it is to have a strong University in Northeastern Wisconsin, and we know firsthand the quality of education students receive at UW-Green Bay,” said Wochinske, owner of Pomp’s Tire in Green Bay. “The students of today become the employees and local leaders of tomorrow. Funding strong academic programs and student scholarships benefits us all.”
Gifts made through the Chernick/Wochinske Challenge support student scholarships and academic programs through UW-Green Bay’s Annual Fund, said Development Officer and 2005 alumna Tracy Heaser. In 2010-11, 65 percent of Annual Fund contributions were used to fund student scholarships, and another 25 percent of all gifts went to support academic programming. The remaining 10 percent of contributions are supporting the long-term sustainability of University Advancement through donor relations efforts and alumni events. Donors also have the option of making a Restricted Gift, which allows them to specify where their dollars go by creating their own scholarship or contributing to existing public scholarships and funds.
“Many of our students come from modest backgrounds, or are the first in their family to attend college, so scholarship support is critical,” Heaser said. “Our donors make such a difference in the lives of our students, and Rick and Jim’s leadership has helped them redouble their commitment to this University.”
Chernick and Wochinske recently have been honored twice for their contributions and continued support of the University via their namesake challenge. On Tuesday, April 24, the UW-Green Bay Council of Trustees/Foundation Board of Directors officially recognized the pair during its meeting, presenting them with signed, framed photographs and showing a thank-you video featuring UW-Green Bay students, staff, administrators, board members and friends of the University. The same video was shown Saturday, April 28 during the 2012 Alumni Association Awards Night at the Weidner Center for the Performing Arts.
More information on the Chernick/Wochinske Challenge, including the thank-you video celebrating its success, is available at www.uwgb.edu/foundation/alumni/chernick-wochinske/. To learn more about the UW-Green Bay Foundation and how donors make a difference, visit www.uwgb.edu/foundation, call (920) 465-2074 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.