Boost Your Regional Programs with a PTK Grant

Phi Theta Kappa will give regional conferences and projects a $100,000 boost this year through regional grants.

Up to 20 grants of $5,000 each will be given to regions to supplement costs for conference programming and regional projects that will directly impact students. The deadline to apply for a grant is May 5. Coordinators, apply today.

“Our regions are hosting some incredible events and doing some really amazing work, and we’re happy to support them in their efforts,” PTK’s Vice President of Membership and Student Engagement Dr. Susan Scaggs said.

The grants can be used for regional conferences that take place during the 2017-2018 academic year.

Many regions used grants awarded in 2016 to bring keynote speakers to their fall and spring conferences. The Middle States Region used part of its grant to fund C4 supplies for all chapters in the region so they could participate in the region-wide Middle States Completes Week in October.

“Getting engaged on a regional level means our students have the ability to make a real difference beyond their college campuses,” Scaggs said.

The Missouri Region focused its recent spring convention on membership awareness and recruitment. To boost recruiting efforts and to encourage participation in international events, the regional officer team hired Jeff Clinkenbeard and Kyaw Tha Hla, producers and writers for such television shows as “Cheers” and “Fraiser,” to help develop promotional videos for the region. Clinkenbeard and Hla are the organizers behind SATO48, an internationally recognized film festival and competition in Springfield, Missouri.

During the weekend, attendees developed concepts, researched content, wrote scripts, acted and filmed. By the close of the convention, members had created professional videos they can use on campus and social media. Watch them now.

“The focus was on the creative process and how to work as a development team,” Missouri Regional Coordinator Jo Fritts said. “Knowing that this was done with over 80 people providing active input, it was quite an endeavor, and everyone had fun.”

When It Comes to REACH Rewards, Recruitment is Key

Editor’s Note: This post was written and submitted by Dr. Aariel Charbonnet, Phi Theta Kappa’s Manager of Member Support and Outreach.

The inaugural cycle of REACH (Recognizing Excellence in Acceptance and Completion with Honors) Rewards has ended with 422 chapters earning this esteemed distinction. Launched in 2016 to recognize and reward Phi Theta Kappa chapters excelling in membership development, the REACH Rewards program rewards chapters that meet or exceed a membership acceptance rate of 15 percent.

Acceptance rates are calculated using the chapter’s membership totals, the number of eligible students provided to PTK, and the enrollment totals for the chapter’s college.

In addition to free graduation stoles, REACH chapter attendees were honored at our 99th annual convention, PTK Catalyst. Students received special REACH chapter ribbons; advisors were recognized for this distinction at the advisor luncheon; and all REACH chapters were listed in the 2017 Awards Program.

As we embark on the 2018 cycle of this program (which runs Jan. 1-Dec. 31), I encourage all chapters to strive for REACH Rewards. Director of Membership Services Heather Schmidt says focused effort on recruitment and ambassadorship is key to increasing chapters’ membership acceptance rate, and, therefore, their likelihood of earning REACH Rewards. As a former recruiting coordinator for a college athletics program and transfer admissions recruiter, Heather offers an insightful take on the importance of member recruitment and the value of becoming a REACH chapter. I sat down with her to learn more.

Q: To earn REACH Rewards, a chapter’s membership acceptance rate must be at least 15 percent. What is significant about 15 percent?

A: In 2016, our membership acceptance rate for the Society increased to 13.2 percent. The strength of PTK as an organization is determined by the achievements of our chapters on the local level. If we challenge the local chapters to achieve 15 percent acceptance rates, then the Society as a whole will be elevated in terms of providing access to the life-changing benefits of membership to more and more deserving students.

Q: In addition to receiving complimentary graduation stoles and recognition at the annual convention, how else do Phi Theta Kappans benefit from this program?

A: The REACH Rewards program allows all PTK participants (advisors, alumni, members, officers, or even other school officials) to get behind an initiative that will stimulate growth AND provide motivation and a goal to focus on every day. Also, any type of reward or recognition is a marker for success that the chapter could use as justification or evidence of return on investment when requesting funding or other resources from administrators. After all, the larger the PTK chapter, the more individual students who are being encouraged to persist, engage, complete, and transfer/enter the workforce.

Plus, it gives students something tangible to discuss with a future employer or internship provider in terms of the skill of recruiting/ambassadorship to tell a compelling story in a scholarship essay or admission application. It’s a marketable, transferable, and valuable skill, something quantifiable. There’s a time and place for raising awareness, but that’s more subjective and passive. Taking action and having the confidence to engage in direct recruitment is a gold mine of an experience for students who are in year one or two of their college career. And, recruitment is for EVERYONE—no one is too shy. They can help out with organizing events, building a website, or with social media recruitment efforts.

Q: You stress the importance of recruiting/ambassadorship as a necessary ingredient in and benefit of REACH Rewards. What makes this an invaluable component of the REACH Rewards equation?

A: Employers or internship providers will be impressed to hear a college student talk about how he or she recruited students to accept membership in PTK, an organization whose mission they support. Students should leverage their PTK membership and capitalize on the opportunity. Telling a compelling story about creating access for others to join PTK should involve mention of things like getting comfortable approaching strangers, strategically setting up an eye-catching display, confidently pitching membership, and being responsible enough to follow up with prospective leads after the event.

Professionals in hiring positions or on interview/review committees will appreciate applicants who took the initiative to better themselves, their campus and their community—not because it was required for a grade or mandatory, but because they chose to do so. The Phi Theta Kappa experience is so much more than a stamp on a transcript or a line on a resume.

It is simply not enough to identify and invite students. It is a dangerous assumption to think students will receive an invitation and join. Recruitment, follow-up contact, and orientation/information sessions are necessary to convert eligible students to members. Failing to convert eligible students into members means no exposure to life-changing benefits of membership.

Q: You mentioned that Phi Theta Kappans would benefit from focusing on REACH Rewards as a daily goal. What does that look like?

A: As a true ambassador of Phi Theta Kappa, you’re “on” 24/7. Whether wearing a PTK shirt, “Ask Me About PTK” sticker, pin, or medallion, you will attract attention and get questions. There are many other things that a member can plan and promote daily: a webinar, an on-campus informational session, a Competitive Edge or CollegeFish.org workshop. When members sign the C4 pledge, one aspect of it is for each one to help one, so members should feel obligated to create access to PTK or promote membership benefits each day. If you consider every student to be a prospective member and every staff and faculty member as a potential supporter, then you will find yourself developing a true recruiter mindset.

As the 2018 cycle of REACH Rewards takes flight, Phi Theta Kappa will continue to encourage membership development with complimentary graduation stoles for chapters earning at least a 15 percent membership acceptance rate at the local level. By making a concerted effort to recruit new members and serve as strong Phi Theta Kappa ambassadors, EVERY chapter has the potential to become a REACH Rewards chapter.

Advisors, Members, and Officers: Make this your goal! The long-term benefit is maximized access to the lifetime benefits of Phi Theta Kappa membership.

People of PTK: Mo Abdullahi

After she graduated from college, Mo Abdullahi’s mother watched her country crumble. At 19, she fled Somalia and gave birth to him in a Kenyan refugee camp.

“She was brave enough to leave everything she knew to give me an opportunity at a future,” he said. “Ever since I was a young child, she instilled within me the belief that all things get better with education.”

Mo pointed out that even though his mother’s college degree was nullified when she fled from the war, she continued to believe very deeply in higher learning. After the two immigrated to the U.S., he grew up in low-income housing, with many differences separating him from the other students.

“Even though these traits set me apart from the rest of my classmates for the majority of my life, I knew that I belonged in the classroom,” Mo said. “I hope to someday follow in my mother’s footsteps by acquiring something that nobody can ever take away from me—an education.”

Eventually he enrolled at Renton Technical College in Washington, while working to support himself and his mother.

While attending Renton, Mo was inducted into Phi Theta Kappa, became an Executive Board Member in Associated Student Government, and served as a tutor in the Lead program. A computer science major, he also started CHIPS, a free student-run computer repair service for students. The service has fixed more than 500 computers on campus since it was started.

“Working in the Learning Resource and Career Center has been an amazing experience,” Mo said. “I have been able to meet many people and help them reach their academic goals.”

He added that being bilingual has also helped him to welcome new immigrants to the U.S. and to the world of higher learning.

“I wish to spend the next few years of my life gaining as much knowledge as possible,” Mo said. “Being in higher learning has exposed me to concepts and ideas I had never considered.”

He has earned a 3.75 grade point average and was recognized this week as Washington’s New Century Scholar, a member of the All-USA Community College Academic Team, and the 2017 David Pierce Scholar—receiving a total of $8,000 in scholarships.

“Receiving a scholarship through Phi Theta Kappa affords me some form of relief and provides me with the morale boost that I am not alone in my journey,” Mo said. “That people believe in me as much as I believe in myself.”

He also addressed community college presidents at Phi Theta Kappa’s annual Presidents Breakfast held at the American Association of Community Colleges (AACC) annual convention in New Orleans, Louisiana, April 24.

“I hope to one day bring Internet access, which would grant access to knowledge, to the most impoverished places in the world.” Mo said. “I truly believe that education is the best way to change the trajectory of your life, and I hope to make it accessible to everyone.”

Crossing the Ice, Daring to Dream

As a child, Ann Bancroft led her cousins on backyard winter camping trips in Minnesota. Today, she’s still leading expeditions, but on a much larger scale.

Ann is one of the world’s foremost polar explorers. In 1986, she dogsledded 1,000 miles from the Northwest Territories in Canada to the North Pole, becoming the first known woman in history to make the journey.

She became the first woman to trek to both the North and South Poles when, in 1993, she led the American Women’s Expedition to the South Pole—a 67-day expedition of 660 miles on skis.

In 2001, Ann and fellow explorer Liv Arnesen became the first women to ski across Antarctica’s landmass—a 94-day, 1,717-mile journey.

These accomplishments have brought her much acclaim: she was named among Glamour magazine’s “Women of the Year” in 2001; she was featured in the book Remarkable Women of the Twentieth Century in 1998; she was inducted into the National Women’s Hall of Fame in 1995; and she was named Ms. Magazine’s “Woman of the Year” in 1987.

Ann’s achievements have also given her a platform, which she uses to inspire women and girls around the world to shatter female stereotypes and accomplish their dreams. In 1997, she founded the Ann Bancroft Foundation, the mission of which is “for every girl and woman in the United States who dares to dream to have the support, inspiration, and resources that will help make their dreams come true.”

The Foundation recently celebrated its 20th anniversary and has awarded $1.4 million to 3,900 Minnesota girls in the form of “Dare to Dream” and “Let Me Play” grants.

“Experience has so much power,” Ann said in an interview about the Foundation with the Pioneer Press. “It can help us connect to the world around us.

“It doesn’t have to be big, it doesn’t have to be expensive, but it can change everything. It can change the way the world spins for a young girl.”

Ann will bring her message to the 50th Honors Institute, June 5-10 at Loyola University in Chicago. She will be speaking in the second general session on Tuesday morning, June 6.

The lecture is sponsored by Leanne Jardine, Advisor Emeritus and former New York Regional Coordinator. Reserve your spot by May 12.

Ann and Liv’s current project is Access Water, which began in 2015. They led a team of eight women on a 60-day trek in India, starting in the Himalayas and going through the Ganges River. Along the way, the team visited with local organizations working to improve water conditions in the area.

The team plans to visit each continent every few years—the expedition will continue this fall along the Mississippi River. It culminates with a journey to Antarctica in 2026.

As much as Ann loves the outdoors, she also loves educating children. Millions of children in classrooms around the United States have followed her expeditions. She taught physical and special education in schools in Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota, and she is currently an instructor for Wilderness Inquiry, an organization that helps both disabled and able-bodied individuals enjoy the outdoors.