Bears Gave Back
May 10, 2021
On April 14, through UNC’s “Bears Give Back” day of giving, more than 600 alumni, friends, parents, faculty and staff did just that, supporting more than 80 funds across campus and making a difference for students, programs and academic areas with more than $116,000 in contributions.
The one-day virtual event was a community effort, with Bears near and far taking time to support the areas they love. Many posted words of thanks or support as they made their gifts.
Staff member Tracey Clay, who supported the Disaster Relief Fund, wrote, “I give to help support those who are trying to gain a great education/college experience while also dealing with challenges in other areas of life. Keep going, you got this!”
And Nancy Matchett, associate provost, gave to the Summer Enrichment Program (SEP), saying, “I've seen SEP work as both an alumna and a faculty member. This opportunity should be accessible to every kid who wants to participate.”
A two-week program designed for gifted, talented and creative students, SEP takes place annually at UNC in July and is designed for students entering grades 5 through 7. Amy Graefe, Ph.D., assistant professor of Gifted Education and director of SEP, was the Bears Give Back project leader for SEP, and says she chose to give because of the opportunities SEP provides and the impact it has had in the community.
“This program has had a positive, life-changing impact on so many young people (and adults) for more than 40 years,” she said. “I believe that now, more than ever, children and young adults across the nation need opportunities to experience enrichment and challenge in an emotionally safe environment that nurtures the whole child and fosters connections with others. This is what SEP strives to do. I wanted to contribute to this program in the hopes that we could provide this opportunity to students who may not otherwise be able to participate.”
Graefe, who has been working at UNC since 2008, says that she sees first-hand how SEP and related programs develop a sense of community among participants. Many students attend from four years old (in the Young Child Summer Enrichment Program (YCSEP)) and continue through the Leadership Enrichment Program (LEP, for students in grades 11 and 12).
“Some participants come back as SEP counselors and have remained involved beyond that, serving in administrative roles,” she said. “Students who attend the programs often talk about meeting, for the first time, others who think like they do. It provides a place for them to ‘belong.’ It also provides students with an opportunity to engage in a breadth of topics not typically available in a regular school setting and to delve in at a degree of depth of complexity that they often don’t have the opportunity to explore.”
Other funds the community supported included the “Support a Future Bear” fund, which covers the cost of applying to UNC for students interested in UNC’s undergraduate programs. The fund not only makes it easier for students to explore and apply to UNC, but it gives them a sense of the university’s caring culture and community.
While Bears Give Back is done for the year, you can give to UNC to support scholarships, contribute to the Disaster Relief Fund or make a difference through an area that’s important to you.