2015 Charity Auction to benefit Girls on the Run of Southeastern Michigan

December 2, 2014

When Maab Ibrahim (MPP/MBA ’16) made the surprise announcement that Girls on the Run of Southeastern Michigan had been selected as the beneficiary of the annual Ford School Charity Auction, it couldn’t have come at a better time.

Danielle Plunkett, the chapter’s executive director, was in the process of adjourning the organization’s September board meeting, having just finished discussing the added burden the steady increase in scholarship requests in recent years was placing on the budget when Ibrahim shared the news.

“We were all shocked,” Plunkett said of the board’s members. “We had no idea we were even being considered.”

Ibrahim, a current Girls on the Run board member who began as a board fellow through the University of Michigan’s Nonprofit and Public Management Center, nominated the organization for consideration to the Charity Auction Committee in early September, but kept quiet throughout the process, until making the surprise announcement.

Public policy students at 2014 charity auction

The Cause

Girls on the Run is a nonprofit empowerment program for preteen girls that aims to teach life lessons through teamwork and physical activity. During each 10-week season, Girls on the Run volunteer coaches work with teams of 8-20 girls to help develop the competencies needed to navigate life experiences while incorporating a training regime. Each season culminates with a noncompetitive 5K event. There are currently more than 200 chapters across the U.S. and Canada.

In the 13 years that Girls on the Run of Southeastern Michigan has been in existence, it has never had to turn away a participant, according to Plunkett. It’s one of the things she is most proud of.

“From the beginning, equity has been very important to us. We’ve always held that we wanted our program to be available to all girls, not just the ones who could afford it,” Plunkett said. “We work hard to ensure that every girl who needs a scholarship has access to one.”

However, as the program has expanded its reach in the community, the demand for scholarships has increased significantly. So much so, that Plunkett and the organization’s board of directors have had concerns as to whether they would be able to keep up with requests next year.

When the local chapter started in 2001, it served girls in two Ann Arbor elementary schools. By 2015, Plunkett expects that the chapter will be active in more than 100 schools across five counties and will serve 2,000 participants.

“We’re going to be able to do so much — to help support so many girls — with the additional funds,” Plunkett said. “It’s such a blessing to have been selected.”

Jeremy Batt, Maddie McIlhon, Emma Tinsley, and Kelsey Byrne at 2014 charity auction

The Charity Auction

The Ford School Charity Auction is a student-led initiative that raises money for a different non-profit organization each year. The auction committee solicits donations from members of the Ford School community and local merchants and then hosts a gala at which the items are bid on in both live and silent auctions.

Past auction items have included tickets to local sporting events, gift certificates to local businesses, Detroit tours, even a “stereotype busting” Men of the Ford School calendar. However, big-ticket items are generally special outings with Ford School faculty members.

Ambassador Mel Levitsky and wife Joan at 2014 charity auction

“Last year, we had some very involved professors,” said Michele Majors (MPP ’15), who chairs the committee. “We’re hoping faculty step up again and put together some interesting packages.”

In years past, outings included a karaoke night with Yazier Henry, a multi-course meal cooked by Sue Dynarski, and a day of curling with Catherine Hausman, Barry Rabe, and John Chamberlin.

Majors said that the Charity Auction Committee has set a goal of raising $15,000 over the course of the fundraising campaign. With that amount of additional funding, Plunkett said Girls on the Run could provide scholarships to more than 100 girls. She also said it would help with costs associated with the implementation of a new curriculum.

Charity Auction fundraising efforts kicked off this fall with an annual bowling night at Colonial Lanes in September and a charity kickball game in November.

“The first two events have gone really well,” said Andrew Kraemer (MPP ’16), a first-year committee member. “We’re excited that people have made it out to support such a great cause. We hope it continues because we really want to beat last year’s fundraising record.”

Second years take on first years at charity kickball event, November 2014

2014-15 Charity Auction fundraisers:

  • Ford School Bowling Night – Friday, Sept. 26 at Colonial Lanes
  • Ford School Kickball Game: 1st Years vs. 2nd Years – Sunday, Nov. 2 at Elbel Field
  • Charity Auction Committee Coffee Stand – November through February in the Great Hall
  • Ford School Trivia Night – 7 p.m., Thursday, Dec. 4 at the Blue Leprechaun
  • Ford School Game Night – January 2015 at the Ford School (day and time TBD)
  • Ford School Charity Auction – Saturday, March 28 at the Kensington Court Hotel

For more information about the Charity Auction or upcoming events and fundraising, email [email protected]. Additional information on Girls on the Run of Southeastern Michigan can be found here.

The Charity Auction is an annual Ford School event led by students. While planning for the auction and fundraising events is led by the Charity Auction Committee, comprised for first- and second-year MPP students, fundraising is a group effort.

--Story by Paul Gully (MPP ’16)