Want to Raise Money for a Good Cause: Organize a snowball fight and a snow-fort building competition.

 
 

Neil Bergquist, Director at Surf Incubator, a Seattle based community-supported space for digital entrepreneurs, noticed the need for young professionals to get involved with innovative forms of fundraising. After organizing a successful benefit last year for Seattle Public Library’s Homework Help program, he now hopes to raise money for the Boys and Girls club of King County. Berquist and his team are organizing a city-wide snow ball fight and fort-building competition, with hopes that Seattle can support a good cause and possibly snag a Guinness World Record away from the Republic of South Korea for the world’s largest snow ball fight.

Ryan Bourke, a team member, says the manifestation of a city-wide snow ball fight was driven by the desire to create a memorable day for Seattle as well as inspire young professionals to give back. “Giving back to the community is an investment. We see an opportunity to engage young professionals in important social causes, and attractive events like Snow Day, are a great way to engage this demographic.” The Snow Day team chose to donate all proceeds to the Boys and Girls club of King County because, “it aligns with our mission; to raise money for kids by remembering what it’s like to be one."

A city-wide snow day will take place January 12th with registration beginning at noon, followed by a snow fort competition between local businesses. In an attempt to seize a World Record, a massive snow ball fight will take place at 5pm inside of the Next 50 Plaza at the Seattle Center. Following the snowball fight will be a pub crawl in lower Queen Anne.

For more information on Snow Day visit http://www.snow.co/

Final Analysis: Flying Higher

Final Analysis: Flying Higher

How a certain local airline could strike a blow for fairer treatment of college athletes.
FROM THE PRINT EDITION |
 
 
Here’s a thought: While Alaska Air Group spends $2.6 billion swallowing up Virgin America, it should wield some of its new clout — Alaska will soon be the nation’s fifth-largest air carrier — on becoming the college athlete’s best friend.
 
Alaska already showers upon the University of Washington nearly $5 million a year for naming rights to the football field at Husky Stadium and the basketball court at Hec Edmundson Pavilion. It also has sponsorship arrangements with athletic programs at the University of Oregon and Oregon State University. It even paints some of its airplanes in the colors of 11 Western universities, including the UW.
 
On the weekend that news of Alaska’s acquisition of Virgin America broke, the UW women’s basketball team was completing its improbable and exhilarating run to the Final Four of the NCAA women’s basketball tournament. It occurred to me that there’s an opportunity here for Alaska CEO Brad Tilden to start lobbying the NCAA on behalf of student-athletes everywhere, but particularly in Alaska Airlines’ own backyard.
 
Alaska’s Husky Stadium agreement — 10 years, $41 million — already earmarks half of the money for scholarships and “student-athlete welfare.” Last year, for the first time, the NCAA started allowing Division I schools to pay athletes a stipend for incidental living expenses — things like late-night snacks, student fees, incidental travel — that aren’t covered by athletic scholarships for tuition, room and board. 
 
The UW’s annual stipend for athletes is $3,085, or roughly $11.40 a day during a nine-month academic year. It’s not a lot, but it’s enough for a couple of cheeseburgers and a chocolate shake when the dining halls are closed.
 
Alaska’s naming-rights money goes into the pot that helps provide those stipends, which the NCAA instituted as a means of closing the gap between what an athletic scholarship provides — tuition, room, board, books and fees — and the “real” cost of attending college.
 
The problem is that this “cost of attendance” stipend has made a  playing field that’s not level even less fair. Some schools pay stipends of more than $5,000, which is totally permissible under the NCAA guidelines. So if you’re a poor kid being recruited by several universities, which school would you choose — the one offering no stipend, the one offering $3,000 or the one offering $5,000?
 
This is where a corporate CEO has the opportunity to say to the NCAA, “We are a major employer who believes in treating its workers equitably. As a huge supporter of our local university’s athletics program, we think it’s time you paid your athletes a little bit more than cheeseburger money — and paid them fairly acros the board.”
 
It doesn’t have to be a quid-pro-quo situation, as in “pay these athletes or we’ll take our sponsorship money elsewhere.” But airlines have become adept at squeezing travelers for every last dime via baggage fees, boarding fees, legroom fees, beverage fees and the like. I imagine an airline executive could be pretty persuasive suggesting the NCAA assess itself a “fairness fee” and pay student-athletes a decent wage from its enormous piggy bank.
 
The NCAA can still call it a stipend if it wants. Regardless, it should finally admit that scholarships are meant to provide an education but don’t begin to acknowledge that an athlete’s contribution to an institution’s bottom line — not to mention its reputation in the media and its perception by the public — deserves considerably more than free tuition. 
 
JOHN LEVESQUE is the managing editor of Seattle Business magazine.