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DavenFund offers extra educational resources

Full-time employees can use Davenport University program to better serve their students.

February 8, 2019
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Some employees at Davenport University are eligible to receive funds to assist in getting the educational resources they need this year.

The university has invested $10,000 in a program called DavenFund for its employees to use. Its full-time employees, which does not include adjunct faculty, student workers, temporary staff and contracted staff, can apply for funds to better serve their students.

Amy Miller, executive director of communications and public relations, said DavenFund is considered an extra opportunity to offer employees funds outside of the standard budget to support professional development or efficiencies within their work.

“It creates an opportunity to offer funding for these needs and/or ideas in an equitable and creative way across the organization,” she said.

Kathy Miner, executive director of process improvement at Davenport, said the idea of DavenFund arose out of workshops she facilitated for employees two years ago.

“It all started from a conversation with a group of employees representing all of the different campuses and departments,” she said. “We all got together and developed a process. Our primary goal was to create a process where, regardless of campus or department, we are able to have a request and a fair opportunity for funding.”

Miner said the faculty does have the necessary tools they need to carry out their day-to-day job as educators, but they wanted to create a fun and innovative way to be more efficient and effective.

Out of that idea, DavenFund was created, offering an opportunity for each full-time employee to apply for between $100 to $2,000 and use it for resources to help improve the way they educate students.

When completing the application process, Miner said employees must detail why they want the money, what it will be used for and explain how it will better their teaching abilities.

The deadline for the applications this year is Feb. 15. Scott Epstein, executive vice president of quality and effectiveness at the university, said that in April after the applications are submitted and reviewed, there will be a drawing of the winners, which will be live streamed at all campuses.

Miner said recipients will be selected at random through a selection algorithm.

“Live drawings will happen, and different staff members will be selected winners, and everyone can see it happen live,” she said. “The system will continue to select winners until it gets to or close to the $10,000 threshold. The past two years it was $9,979 and $9,989. So, we get really close. We want to be fair to everyone in making it a live process.”

Epstein said each of the last two years, there have been 11 winners.

“We not only track how many winners we have but also what the money is used for,” he said. “We track who used the money for additional training, equipment, software programs and products.”

Some of the employees, Miner said, have requested money for iPads because they teach at different campuses or standup desks and specific training for their roles, so they can teach the students something new and different.

The initiative was only created to incorporate different ideas into the learning and teaching experience, according to Miner.

“Everyone can do their own job, but we just want to allow for another opportunity for people to put in an additional request that may not have been able to be funded because we have so many ideas for improvement,” she said.

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