The cost-free impact of allocating tax dollars
Story by Ryan Kryska
GCU News Bureau
Grand Canyon University employee Nancy Patt is passionate about Habitat for Humanity — about being able to make sure her tax dollars go to Habitat — and for good reason.
In 2001, Patt volunteered with Habitat at her previous employer because the house they were fixing up belonged to a co-worker. Patt remembers the employee, a single mother, being absolutely grateful for the project. The grace of home revitalization truly changed the woman’s life.
How does Patt know that? Well, because 17 years later she was walking down a GCU hallway and, as divine intervention would have it, the woman now works at GCU as well, has two degrees and a thriving life.
“She came up to me about six months ago and she said, ‘I will never forget how hard you worked on my house,’” Patt said, “and I got a little teary eyed because I am so proud of how it changed her life. We lost touch for years, and to see her doing so well puts a spring in my step.”
Patt, Executive Director of Student Services and Residency Operations for the College of Doctoral Studies, is not the only one with a story like this. It’s why GCU from top to bottom has devoted itself to causes like Habitat and making sure private Christian schools get the support they need.
It’s why GCU has worked so hard to provide employees with the program Donate to Elevate (DTE), which in reality is allocate to elevate. The program allows employees to choose where their tax money is actually being used instead of putting their funds solely in the hands of the government. Through DTE, both GCU and Grand Canyon Education employees can tell the government that they want their tax money to go to Habitat for Humanity, to a private Christian school in the state or to an Arizona public school.
There’s no catch. There’s no money out of the employee’s pocket, just the power to control — allocate — how their tax money is used.
“You’re welcome to give all of it to the state and just trust that they are putting it where you might want it, or you can say, ‘Hey, the state’s allowing me to choose,’” said Sheila Jones, Alpha Program Manager with Strategic Educational Alliances. “It’s a direct benefit.”
Jones says she is more than happy to meet with anyone who might have questions about the program. She can walk employees through signing up, which literally takes minutes to do thanks to GCU’s online form that auto-fills employee’s information when signed into LopeNet.
Since 2012, GCU employees have allocated $8.1 million to one or more of the three tax-credit options, said Tacy Ashby, Senior Vice President of Strategic Educational Alliances.
“This has truly made a notable difference in the communities we are serving,” Ashby said.
The University’s goal last year was to allocate $2.5 million, and employees shattered that by allocating $2.7 million. In true Lope fashion, the stakes have been raised for this year to a goal of $2.8 million.
“I am not as angry about paying as much income tax as I do because I know a portion of that is going to the organizations we support,” said Dina Higgins, an instructor for the College of Science, Engineering and Technology. “You literally can type Donate to Elevate through LopeNet and it pretty much takes you right to the page. You click on ‘Sign up here’ and the form is already filled out with your name on it because you are logged in and it literally takes less than a minute. People go, ‘Oh my, that was so easy. I can’t believe I was waiting that long.’”
Higgins is a major cheerleader for the program, and for good reason.
If 90 percent of a department’s employees sign up, they are rewarded with a half-day off on a work day of their choosing. It’s just another way that GCU shows its employees that it’s dedicated to the community.
“Our leadership is very enthused and truly appreciative of our employees’ contributions to this program,” Ashby said.
The DTE team is making a push this month to have employees sign up. That’s because the sooner GCU and GCE staff members start allocating their tax payments, the sooner Habitat and schools can start receiving the funding they need in 2019.
Jones is available for any DTE questions. She can be reached at [email protected].
Contact Ryan Kryska at (602) 639-8415 or [email protected].