Last year, my friend Olivia Storz and I created Into the Light, an initiative that aimed to help better the conversation around sexual assault prevention at DU. Over the course of nine months, we built an initiative that was representative of the change so many individuals on our campus wanted to see. By creating a space where everyone could learn about the issue without fear, we created a space for change to not be an idea, but an action. At our first event, we had over 200 individuals attend.
Not too long after our successful event, we were asked, what was next? Into the Light had become a recognizable name. At the same time, Olivia and I had also been working with the University to create the Survivors Fund, a tangible resource for anyone in our community directly impacted by gender based violence.
While our two projects were separate, during the summer of 2017, Olivia and I decided that Into the Light should help fundraise for the Survivors Fund. By merging our two projects, we knew we would have the best opportunity to help our community.
When we both returned from abroad, we began reaching out to student organizations and working to create events throughout the remainder of the year.
In April, we had a group of individuals approach us to establish We Stand Up Week, an initiative that would have a week full of fundraising. We chose to do this May 21st-25th, because the Survivors Fund was a project for One Day for DU, the university’s annual day of giving. Monday started with Hillel, ZBT, Lambda, and Athletics participating in a penny stomp. We tabled and anyone who donated to the fund could put a token into the bin of their choice. The winner received a prize at the end of the week. Tuesday, the penny stomp continued and Women’s Lacrosse hosted a spike ball tournament in the afternoon. Wednesday was One Day for DU, where every dollar donated was matched. The day was successful, as we had students, staff, alumni, and more, give to the fund. On Friday, Hillel hosted a Shabbat dinner on Carnegie Green, and we had a successful turnout. At the end of the week, we learned that the Survivors Fund raised over $6,000 and had 186 donors. Out of all the One Day projects, ours came in 4th for the most donors.
We Stand Up Week was created to ensure that the conversation around sexual assault prevention didn’t stop after April, which is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Additionally, we wanted to provide a way for students to give to the Survivors Fund. Having student organizations from all corners of campus come together to support the fund helped create a conversation much larger than we thought. The number of donors that gave to the Survivors Fund proved how important this work is. As we continue to grow, I think back to when we wanted to start Into the Light, and the nervousness in wondering if we would be successful. Our community is changing, and it is remarkable to see. The community at DU is behind the Survivors Fund, and the message that Into the Light stands for. Be on the lookout this next year - there are some exciting projects happening!
For more information, check out https://www.du.edu/health-and-counseling-center/cape/capesurvivorfund.html
Ciera Blehm - Into the Light, Co-Founder | CAPE Survivors Fund, Co-Founder Puksta Scholar, University of Denver | Project X-ITE Student Advisory Board Member | It’s On Us Student Advisory Committee Member | University of Denver 2019 | Daniels College of Business