Siddhi Surana

This semester, students and other members of the New Haven community can support Dwight Hall while getting their caffeine fix.

As part of Blue State Coffee’s philanthropy campaign, Dwight Hall is one of the four local organizations customers can vote for using wooden tokens available at the register. Standing alongside collection jars for Continuum of Care, Squash Haven and CitySeed, Dwight Hall will be featured for six months, with the sponsorship period beginning this past June and ending in December. At the end of the period, the coffee shop will allocate two percent of its sales proportional to the number of votes each organization receives, and Dwight Hall plans to put these donations -— which they hope will amount to approximately $2,000 — toward supporting student groups.

“What I think is unique about this model is that it provides a good corporate profit-sharing model that is locally based,” Dwight Hall Director of Development and Alumni Relations Johnny Scafidi said. “It helps people understand what role Dwight Hall plays in the community, it helps people see Dwight Hall as part of the nonprofit community and we will benefit with what will be a substantial gift.”

Dwight Hall pushed to be part of the campaign through write-in suggestions, which the Hall encouraged its member groups to submit during the spring semester. Dwight Hall is only featured at Blue State’s York Street location, as the Wall Street shop showcases four different nonprofits. The manager of each location selects the featured nonprofits based on the suggestions.

The organization has been featured at Blue State twice before, in 2009 and 2013, when donations totaled about $730 and $1,800, respectively, Scafidi said. These donations are unrestricted, meaning there are no specifications for where the money must go, Dwight Hall Executive Director Peter Crumlish said.

“Everyone wants to have unrestricted donations so they can direct the money where they feel it will be used the best, but sometimes people want to give money to a specific thing and that restricts it,” Crumlish said. “When you write grants, that takes a certain amount of labor, which has a cost … but to get a $2,000 grant for minimal effort means a lot to us.”

Roughly 18 percent of Dwight Hall’s revenues for its budget of over $1 million this year comes from donations, Crumlish said. The expected donation from Blue State will be key in contributing to the Hall’s donation goal of $185,000 this year, he added.

The incoming funds will be used for Dwight Hall’s annual unrestricted campaign, which will provide students with financial resources for social-justice projects without requiring them to go through a more formal application process, said Dwight Hall Development Coordinator Jessenia Khalyat ’17. Until last year, students with spur-of-the-moment ideas for service projects had to apply for funding and meet a set list of requirements before receiving funds. But this campaign helps student groups — regardless of affiliation with Dwight Hall — enact social change in response to campus and community events. Last year, the fund helped Dwight Hall finance the Women’s Center’s distribution of Aretha Franklin T-shirts following the new college naming announcements.

Being part of the campaign is exciting both in terms of monetary donations and publicity, said Khalyat. Since the York Street location is more centrally located on campus, it likely attracts more students, she said. By donating during their daily routines, students are supporting Dwight Hall in a thoughtful yet effortless way, Scafidi said.

“If you ask for [funding] and you have a plan, you just bring it to the student executive committee,” Khalyat said. “It isn’t a formal application, more like a group consensus that we want to help and it’s usually a yes because our mission is to support service and social justice on campus and in the community, and [the annual unrestricted campaign] just makes it easier for us to help do it.”

Blue State Coffee has donated over $635,000 to more than 50 nonprofit organizations since its opening in 2007.