INDIANAPOLIS—On July 16, the first annual Butler Giving Circle community grant was awarded to the Desmond Tutu Peace Lab at Butler University. The grant supports local nonviolence training workshops in partnership with the Martin Luther King Community Center (MLK Center), which is located one mile from Butler’s campus in the Butler-Tarkington neighborhood. The 32 inaugural shareholders of the Butler Giving Circle gathered virtually to hear presentations from three potential grant recipients before deliberating and ultimately recommending to award $10,596 to fund nonviolence training for all MLK Center staff and board members, the MLK Center’s teen/young adult group, Butler Peace Lab interns, and Butler faculty fellows.

Participants will be trained by professionals from the Institute for Nonviolence Chicago in the practical use of nonviolence principles established by Martin Luther King. With help from Butler Giving Circle funds, the workshops will be conducted using a “train the trainer” model, equipping all participants with the skills to train successive cohorts of young people in the nonviolence principles at both the MLK Center and Butler. Desmond Tutu Peace Lab Director Dr. Siobhan McEvoy-Levy says this model will establish a sustainable network of qualified trainers, institutionalizing nonviolent conflict transformation as a shared endeavor across both campuses.

“The nonviolence program will help build much-needed capacity for resolving conflict on our campus and in the community, and for resolving conflicts between our campus and community,” McEvoy-Levy says. “Through this program, we are both learning from and giving back to the community within which we are rooted, making connections with future Butler students from Butler-Tarkington and the surrounding areas. I am excited to help create a unique space of learning to promote peace, justice, and dignity for all, in partnership with Butler graduate Allison Luthe ’97, who is Executive Director of the MLK Center.”

The Butler Giving Circle is a new initiative spearheaded by Board of Visitors member Loren Snyder ’08 in conjunction with the Office of University Advancement. The Butler Giving Circle is designed to connect alumni to their philanthropic areas of passion, focused on two mission-critical elements of the University’s Butler Beyond comprehensive fundraising campaign: student scholarships and Indianapolis community partnerships.

With an annual gift of $500, Butler graduates can become shareholders in the Butler Giving Circle. After shareholder funds are pooled, 40 percent of the funds are directed to the Butler Fund for Student Scholarship, and 60 percent are granted to an Indianapolis community partner with an existing affiliation to Butler. Current Butler students and faculty who are engaged with Indianapolis community partners were invited to apply for the partner funding earlier this year by submitting project ideas. After an initial review of applicant projects by Butler leadership and the Butler Giving Circle Executive Committee, three finalists were chosen to present their ideas for use of the funds at the July 16 shareholder meeting.

“Despite the challenging circumstances we are all facing today, I’m so pleased that, through the Butler Giving Circle, the Butler alumni community was able to partner with the Butler Peace Lab and the MLK Center while also supporting scholarship opportunities,” Snyder says. “I’m looking forward to watching the impact of this group grow as more people join the Butler Giving Circle.”

In keeping with the Butler Giving Circle’s funding priorities, the other $7,310 of this year’s shareholder funds were directed to the Butler Fund for Student Scholarship, which directly supports the University’s annual commitment to students in the form of scholarships and financial aid. In 2019-2020, Butler committed more than $77 million to students in the form of financial aid. The University announced earlier this year a commitment of $10 million in additional financial aid to incoming and returning students in response to the unforeseen economic hardships caused by the COVID-19 crisis, and the Butler Giving Circle’s gift will support this commitment.

“The Butler Giving Circle is a wonderful example of the generous and innovative spirit of the Butler alumni community,” says Jonathan Purvis, Vice President for University Advancement. “I am grateful for the way this group is not only inspiring our students and faculty to dream about new ways to broaden Butler’s partnerships with the community, but also offering direct scholarship support to our students in the process. Students, faculty, alumni, and our community partners will all benefit from the connections and philanthropy generated by the Butler Giving Circle.”

The Butler Giving Circle is currently led by an Executive Committee of seven Butler graduates: Ted Argus ’08, Chris Beaman ’12, Krissi Edgington ’05, Lindsey Hammond ’06, Tom Matera ’95, Loren Snyder ’08, and William Willoughby ’19. Networking opportunities are currently being developed for Giving Circle shareholders to connect with students, faculty, staff, and community partners during the year.

Shareholder Kim Kile ’89, MS ’98 says no matter where alumni live, the Butler Giving Circle provides a unique opportunity to be connected with current students and to extend Butler’s positive influence in the community.

“It’s about being engaged with students and connected with what they’re passionate about,” Kile says. “It doesn’t matter if you live in Central Indiana or not—it’s all about Butler and all about the students.”

New shareholders can join the Butler Giving Circle at any time by making a gift at or by contacting Associate Director of Alumni & Engagement Programs Chelsea Smock at


Butler Beyond: The Campaign for Butler University is the University’s largest-ever comprehensive fundraising campaign, with a goal of $250 million to support student access and success, innovations in teaching and learning, and community partnerships.


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