*As they relate to the NUMBALUMS endowment

This article was originally published in the spring 2015 edition of the Growl. Read the full issue here.

Since the Northwestern University Marching Band was "officially" founded in 1911, it's been clear that the students are the heartbeat of not only the Band but also the university.

That first Band was student-led, with 20 members consisting of "two drums, three clarinets, one alto, one tuba, three trombones, ten cornets." The Daily Northwestern noted on October 26, 1911, that the Band was in "great need of altos." The sophomore and junior classes came to the rescue, each donating $25 to the Band. Later in the season, a charity ball was held for the Band—and the Daily reported, "Considering the patriotic cause for which the affair was given the crowd should have been larger; nevertheless about $75 was cleared, which indeed will form a nucleus for the building up of a good substantial band." (For more on the Daily's coverage of hte Band's first season, check out my article in the fall 2011 Growl).

Man, remember when $125 could get a collegiate marching band going? (We don't.)

More than 100 years later, the Band has grown by leaps and bounds—thanks in no small part to directors Glenn Cliffe Bainum, John P. Paynter, and Mallory Thompson—but it's still in need of altos, as well as trombones, sousas, field equipment, the list goes on. The music school and Athletics have done a fine job of meeting the most critical of the Band's needs—but those needs grow every year.

The NUMBALUMS have been an active supporter of the Band since the club's founding in 1999. In terms of financial support, the club maintains the Benefit NU Bands account, which donors can designate go to the Band department. However, the donations fluctuate year to year and we tend to err on the side of conservative so we can make sure that the students receive our annual commitments, including partial funding of the end-of-the-year banquet and the Band department's website. That means that we can't reliably handle expensive requests for the Band, such as badly needed new sousaphones. At Homecoming in 2013, we had to borrow sousas from a local school to ensure our sousa alums could march. This funding gap reveals a plain truth: NUMB is falling behind other collegiate marching bands that have the funding to purchase not only the necessities but the items that can keep it competitive, from instruments to cutting-edge technology.

A few years ago, our NUMBALUMS president at the time, Samir Mayekar, embarked on a journey to found an endowment for the Band. An endowment is a permanent funding source that helps the Band go further in its efforts than the official budget allows, enabling things from new instruments to scholarships to stipends for graduate student directors. Such a fund is common for major marching bands: USC, Michigan, OSU, and Wisconsin all have or are building endowments.

The endowment project was taken over, in turn, by Andrew Levin—who wrote being endowment chair into the bylaws for the executive vice president/president-elect—and then by me. Immediate Past President Liz Driskell has also played a pivotal role in donor outreach. I admit my efforts have paled in comparison to those of Samir, Andrew, and Liz, but I am a firm believer that we can fund this endowment by our deadline of 2018—set because that year, the minimum for Northwestern endowments will increase from $100,000 to $250,000 (holy deep-fried rearback!). The best part is that the money will start flowing immediately and will not take anything from the principal balance; there will always be $100,000 or more invested, ensuring that NUMB's director can fund projects using interest. It's the right choice for NUMB, and the NUMBALUMS are committed to ensuring we get there.

So far, we've received pledges of $70,000 of the $100,000 we need—but only about $31,000 is cash in the door, with the rest pledged to be donated over the next few years. So the work is far from done.

I would like to take a moment to thank a few people who have truly stepped up to help. The following individuals are part of the John P. Paynter Director's Circle—meaning they've pledged donations of $1,000 or more for five years. These individuals have brought us much of the way, and our gratitude cannot be overstated.

John P. Paynter Director's Circle

Mr. James Andrew Ellzy, II & Mr. Francis O'Malley

Mrs. Emily Meredith Haak & Mr. Samir Shailesh Mayekar

Mrs. Amy Stachnik Rushlow

Mr. Ed C. Senechal

Prof. Raymond C. Schwarzkopf

Mr. David Robert Storch

Mr. William C. Tempelmeyer

Dr. Julie A. Zielinski

Whether or not you can give at the Paynter level, every gift counts. I, along with the NUMBALUMS Board and future generations of NUMB members who will benefit from this fund, greatly appreciate your generosity.

Endowments are simply how the greatest modern marching bands keep the spats shiny and the valves oiled. Help us bring NUMB up to date by visiting http://go.numbalums.org/pushonfund.

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