$2 million scholarship program announced

AVMF, Auxiliary partner to benefit students
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The American Veterinary Medical Foundation received quite a gift for its 50th anniversary: a $2 million deposit from the Auxiliary to the AVMA to create the new Auxiliary Legacy Endowed Scholarship Program.

AVMF Chair Richard P. Streett Jr. receives a check for $2 million from Auxiliary to the AVMA President Greg Mooney to create the Auxiliary Legacy Endowed Scholarship Program. (Photo by Malinda Larkin)

The announcement was made July 20 during the AVMA Annual Convention in Chicago.

The Auxiliary created its student loan fund in 1917 to help veterinary students with the cost of their education by providing low-interest loans.

Auxiliary President Greg Mooney said, “With the rising cost of education and the changing dynamics of college financial aid, we saw the need for a change and voted to convert a large part of the student loan fund into a scholarship fund.”

Auxiliary funds were transferred by July 1; a memorandum of understanding was signed by both sides in June following approval by the Illinois attorney general.

The money will be placed in a restricted account managed by the AVMF. The scholarships will be funded from interest on the account and the first scholarships may be awarded as early as this time next year. The number and amount of the awards will be based on the income generated by the account.

Meanwhile, the Auxiliary student loan fund will continue to exist for another four or five years, until 60-some outstanding loans are repaid. The Auxiliary wants to allow those students the contracted time; forgiving those loans would bring immediate tax impacts, Mooney said, so they opted not to do that. The Auxiliary had more than $250,000 in outstanding loans as of late last year.

AVMF Executive Director Mike Cathey said the AVMF was extremely happy to partner with the Auxiliary to create the scholarship program “that will build upon the hundred-plus year legacy of the Auxiliary’s commitment to veterinary student education.”

Other initiatives

The AVMF announced the winner of its first “America’s Favorite Veterinarian” contest (see article) during its fundraiser “A Taste of Chicago at the Shedd Aquarium” July 19. Also making a debut at the event was its Programs on Wheels, featuring a 2006 Ford E540 Super Duty Van. The van is a complete mobile veterinary clinic and was a gift from National Veterinary Associates. The mobile clinic will be used to promote education and awareness for AVMF programs such as “Our Oath in Action,” an initiative that has been retooled recently. It began in 2007 at the AVMA Annual Convention in New Orleans as a way to help animal shelters affected by Hurricane Katrina. The program continued in following years as a voluntourism event whereby convention-goers could donate their time toward rehabilitating local animal shelters.

Attendees of the Foundation’s fundraiser, “A Taste of Chicago at the Shedd Aquarium,” enjoyed views of the city outdoors and marine life indoors. (Photo by Malinda Larkin)

Now, the Foundation is taking “Our Oath in Action” nationwide starting Oct. 26 in five states: Alabama, Illinois, Oklahoma, Nebraska, and Texas.

Cathey explained, “This newly refocused program will be all about the education and awareness at the local level of important animal well-being topics, and, at the same time, engaging the veterinary community with animal owners outside of the traditional clinic settings.”

Our Oath in Action Day will coincide with worldwide Make a Difference Day. The focus will be on educating the public on a variety of animal health care topics and will involve pet owner education in connection with a shelter, educational event, disaster preparedness event, or community project.

Project directors, selected by their state VMAs, met July 19 to train and prepare for hosting their events. They, along with about 100 other volunteers, helped put together blankets, toys, and disaster preparedness kits for the Anti-Cruelty Society of Chicago July 20 as part of the theme day. A representative for the nonprofit had said they can use the materials because they are running low on supplies after helping another shelter that was partially destroyed by fire.

Volunteers participate in the AVMF “Our Oath in Action” project by compiling supplies for the Anti-Cruelty Society of Chicago. (Photo by R. Scott Nolen)

Happy anniversary

Now, 50 years after its founding, the Foundation is bearing new fruit, AVMF Chair Richard P. Streett Jr. told the AVMA House of Delegates on July 19. The recent focus has been on five strategic programs: “America’s Favorite Veterinarian”; the Animal Health Network, which seeks to build awareness of the need for greater companion animal research funding; “Ensuring our Food—from Farm to the Family,” which highlights veterinarians’ role in food safety, security, and defense; “Our Oath in Action”; and “Saving the Whole Family,” a grassroots disaster-related program focused on education.

Overall, the AVMF had one of its best years in 2012 and continues to build on its success.

The AVMF annual report, released during the AVMA convention, showed total revenue was $6,836,832, with $5,826,012 of that (or 85 percent) coming from donations. Total expenses were $4,757,417, and of that, $4,188,714 was spent on programs. The remaining $2,079,415 was held for future programs. Looking at funding by strategic goals, 61.5 percent accounted for education and public awareness and 27.5 percent for student enhancement.

Furthermore, the Foundation has increased the amount of donations it has received by 83 percent since 2009 when it collected $940,128 in charitable giving. In 2012, 88 percent of spending was on programs, including the AVMA Veterinary Medical Assistance Teams, Veterinary Leadership Experience, AVMA Congressional Science Fellowship Program, and National Veterinary Scholars Program.

“We are very proud of the results of our 49th year of impacting the medical care and well-being of animals. As we enter our 50th year, it seems only fitting that we believe that we have now also passed $50 million in cash and services distributed—all in support of animals,” Cathey said.

“As we enter our 50th year, we have many great programs and activities on the horizon,” he continued. “During the next 50 years in partnership with our donors, partners, and others, we plan to make an even greater impact.”