GCU honored with Spirit of Philanthropy Award

By Lana Sweeten-Shults
GCU News Bureau

Grand Canyon University and Habitat for Humanity of Central Arizona have felt right at home with each other since 2015, when they first started to partner together to transform the University’s neighborhood in the Canyon Corridor.

In those five years, they’ve built something exceptional.

The Greater Arizona Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals  recognized GCU for its work with Habitat by honoring it with the Spirit Award at the AFP’s annual Celebration of Philanthropy last week. The University was chosen to receive the honor from a field of almost 20 nominees in that category.

The award recognizes outstanding nonprofit partners for their significant philanthropic contributions. Nonprofits select special friends to honor who share their mission, vision and values.

Habitat chose to nominate GCU.

“As socially responsible and compassionate students and employees, GCU sends out servant leaders who connect with the community through volunteer services that help make a difference in Arizona,” Habitat wrote in its nomination.

The Habitat-GCU initiative, called Operation Revival, truly has transformed the Canyon Corridor and the lives of so many. The organizations together have completed 606 repairs on 263 homes. That amounts to 22,257 volunteer hours contributed by students and staff who are dedicated to the vision of restoring the neighborhood around the University to what it once was – a thriving middle-class community.

GCU was nominated by Habitat for Humanity, represented by Andrea Northup (center). Also pictured are GCU Assistant Professor and Habitat Board Chairman Tim Kelley and University Relations Manager Debbie Accomazzo.

In addition to completing those renovations, GCU and Grand Canyon Education employees have donated $2.7 million through the Allocate to Elevate employee giving program.

University Relations Manager Debbie Accomazzo said that the University often gets so busy trying to execute its vision that “we don’t often stop to reflect on what we’ve created,” which made it nice to do just that at the luncheon.

“We appreciate Habitat for Humanity for recognizing the effort that GCU has put into this initiative,” Accomazzo said. “It’s a pretty extraordinary initiative with even more extraordinary results, and to know that Habitat truly appreciates GCU means a lot.”

This year marked the 35th year the AFP has presented the Celebration of Philanthropy, noting how nearly one-10th of the Arizona Gross State Product is driven by nonprofit organizations and more than 12% of the employed adults in Arizona work directly or indirectly for a nonprofit.

“I salute the work of all these individuals and the scores of volunteers alongside them who give their time, talent and treasure to the missions of these organizations,” said Liz Kaplan, President of the Greater Arizona Chapter of AFP.

GCU’s partnership with Habitat is the largest initiative of its kind in the country.

“To be in that room with community-minded, fund-raising and philanthropy-motivated individuals was special,” Accomazzo said of attending the Celebration of Philanthropy. “We were all there for the same reason – to leave the world better than we found it.”

GCU senior writer Lana Sweeten-Shults can be reached at [email protected] or at 602-639-7901.

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Related content:

GCU TodayServe the City boosts up-and-coming neighborhood

GCU Today: Allocate to Elevate sets $3.2 million pledge goal

GCU Today: Habitat-GCU partnership keeps building on faith

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