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SU's Better Together Syracuse initiative named Best Overall Campaign nationwide

May 23, 2012

Kelly Homan Rodoski
(315) 443-3784

Syracuse University’s Better Together Syracuse initiative was recently named as the Best Overall Campaign in the nationwide 2012 Better Together initiative, which took place on more than 100 college campuses during the 2011-12 academic year.

better togetherBetter Together kicked off its year with a series of events for Sept. 11, including a Service of Hope and Remembrance in Hendricks Chapel and the annual Juice Jam, which was designated as a benefit concert. Those efforts were part of the National Day of Service, inspired by family members of the victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks who have mobilized people nationwide to engage in acts of community service since 2002.

SU’s Interfaith Student Council (IFC) at Hendricks Chapel led Better Together as part of the President’s Interfaith and Community Service Challenge. The challenge mobilized students on college campuses to address significant social issues, such as homelessness, hunger, water pollution and discrimination and to take action to improve their communities. The IFC chose the local and global issue of hunger as SU’s community service challenge.

SU received the award for “an incredible year of mobilizing interfaith action on campus and in the community.” Students were cited for excellence in meeting the overall campaign goals of mobilizing many others to voice, engage and act; changing campus by raising the volume on interfaith cooperation and by sustaining the movement; and growing themselves as leaders. As part of the award, the Food Bank of Central New York will receive $2,500.

“We are delighted with the success of our first Better Together Campaign. This year we were able to bring people together across diverse communities to combat hunger here in Syracuse and around the world,” says Hendricks Chapel Dean Tiffany Steinwert. “By harnessing the power of our shared values, we made connections between unlikely partners … including the Syracuse Orange and the Georgetown Hoyas.

Syeisha Byrd, director of Hendricks Chapel’s Office of Engagement Programs, served as advisor to the IFC in facilitating the campaign on campus. In addition to raising awareness about hunger, the campaign also helped members of the campus community explore their own faith and the faiths of others.

“The Better Together campaign opened doors for honest communication about faith and no faith among students,” she says.

“Better Together Syracuse embodied the spirit of our University’s commitment to Scholarship In Action, which calls for collaboration among campus, community and global partners, to tackle the difficult challenges of our time,” says Thomas V. Wolfe, senior vice president and dean of student affairs. “The students of the Interfaith Student Council did a remarkable job of engaging others in addressing the important social issue of hunger. I am deeply proud of their work, as they should be too, and of the staff who supported them in this effort.”

The official launch of Better Together Syracuse took place in September. Through a collaboration between University Union and Hendricks Chapel, the annual Juice Jam was designated as a benefit concert. Juice Jam raised $30,000 for the World Food Programme for hunger relief in the Horn of Africa and 2,805 cans were collected and donated locally to the Interreligious Food Consortium.

Better Together collected 1,370 pounds of food and collected $2,560 for the Food Bank of Central New York through the Can It! Rivals on the Court, Teammates in the Fight Against Hunger event, a collaborative effort with Georgetown University, in the Carrier Dome on Feb. 8 and a related food collection drive in the Schine Student Center.

In conjunction with an American Red Cross blood drive in March, student volunteers packaged 12,000 nutritive meals for the international relief organization Stop Hunger Now. The meals were delivered to the Dominican Republic in April.
Other events included the CROP Walk in October, a Fast-A-Thon in February and conversations on campus throughout the year about local and global hunger.

Through Better Together, students also actively explored faith in the world. They learned about faiths other than their own during a “Speed Faithing” event; explored the intersection of social justice and communities of faith; and learned about the church in the world, among other topics.

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