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impact-logoFor twenty years, UT students have spent their fall and spring breaks serving other people and communities in need.

Sixty students selected for this year’s Alternative Fall Break will volunteer on projects in five different cities from October 17 through 20. To defray their travel expenses, the students are raising money through UT’s new “Impact Big Ideas” crowd-funding program.

Although UT’s Office of Alumni Affairs and Development established online giving years ago, the crowd-funding approach is new. Crowd funding is a collaborative effort of individuals who network and pool their money to support efforts initiated by other people or organizations through the Internet. It is used often to launch entrepreneurial ventures and support nonprofit mission and relief efforts.

“Impact Big Ideas helps us demonstrate how every donation makes a difference by making student outreach, service, and other experiences possible,” said Vice Chancellor Scott Rabenold. “People want to support the projects and programs they care the most about. This is a way to involve more people in the great work of our students, faculty, and staff.”

To use Impact Big Ideas, project leaders must set a monetary goal and a timeline for reaching the goal. A committee of students and staff reviews the projects and chooses them based on the social impact, feasibility, quality, and overall commitment to the fundraising process.

Once a project is fully funded or reaches its deadline, it rotates off the website and a new project takes its place.

“We have a dedicated network of alumni and friends and a well-established record for service,” Rabenold said. “The power of the Volunteer spirit is what helps our students turn their ideas into efforts that benefit many others.”

Alternative Break is one of twelve projects currently using Impact Big Ideas; other students are using it to find monetary support for efforts that range from individual research projects and study abroad trips to campus-wide efforts, such as expanding a rural counseling and therapy program. Campus radio station WUTK-FM recently reached its goal of $10,500 to help fund the purchase of a new transmitter for the station through Impact Big Ideas.

Kate Kennedy, assistant director of the Center for Leadership and Service, said Impact Big Ideas fundraising will help defer the costs of each upcoming trip and extra donations will provide scholarships so fees do not prevent any student from applying for future trips.

“Impact Big Ideas is the perfect forum to raise awareness of the Alternative Break trips while also allowing family and friends of participants to support the trips financially,” Kennedy said.

C O N T A C T:

Katherine Saxon (865-974-8365,

Karen Simsen (865-974-6862,