Published on July 26, 2017 by Sara Roman  
Rising Star

For the second consecutive year, Orlean Beeson School of Education and the Frances Marlin Mann Center for Ethics and Leadership teamed up for Samford University’s annual Big Give, a social media–driven crowdfunding campaign that raised almost $5,000. 

Funds provided financial support for two of the university’s key youth development partnerships with two organizations led by Samford alumni Jeremy Towns (Next Level Football Camp) and Thomas Beavers (New Rising Star Academic Enrichment Camp).

The eight-week day camp held at Birmingham’s New Rising Star Missionary Baptist Church involved more 100 children in an academic enrichment program developed by the American Baseball Foundation that utilizes sports to engage students in an effort to limit summer learning loss.

“Each summer, youth are at risk of falling two to three months behind in reading and losing up to two months of math skills,” said Karen Birkenfeld, Samford assistant professor and teacher education department chair. “Through fun, educational initiatives like this camp, we can ensure that children are prepared to flourish when they return to school next month.” 

The money raised funded a final field trip to Samford’s campus for 85 pre-K through eighth grade campers July 25.

“This field trip was a great way to open Samford’s gates to one of our community partners, and we hope to provide more opportunities like this,” said Allison Nanni, director of community engagement for the Mann Center.

Campers enjoyed a fun-filled field day on the university’s quad with activities, lunch in the cafeteria and a show in Christenberry Planetarium. Rising sixth through eighth graders also participated in a campus tour from two Samford student guides.

One camper said her favorite part of the day was “everything!” 

“We are so pleased to partner with dynamic alumni like Jeremy Towns and Pastor Beavers in their efforts to develop local youth,” said Nanni. “Both Next Level Football Camp and New Rising Star’s summer camp provide invaluable learning opportunities for our Samford students who worked both camps all summer. These kinds of mutually beneficial partnerships are powerful experiences for all of us.” 

Sara Roman is marketing and communication coordinator for Orlean Beeson School of Education.

Samford is a leading Christian university offering undergraduate programs grounded in the liberal arts with an array of nationally recognized graduate and professional schools. Founded in 1841, Samford is the 87th-oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. Samford enrolls 5,791 students from 49 states, Puerto Rico and 16 countries in its 10 academic schools: arts, arts and sciences, business, divinity, education, health professions, law, nursing, pharmacy and public health. Samford fields 17 athletic teams that compete in the tradition-rich Southern Conference and ranks 6th nationally for its Graduation Success Rate among all NCAA Division I schools.