For the past two years, National Dance Foundation (NDF) has been working with fellow nonprofit LUV Michael to raise awareness for autistic adults and give dance studio owners and students real-world fundraising experience.
“Partnering with LUV Michael has been inspiring,” explains NDF Executive Director Cathy Graziano. “First, it works with every aspect of our #KIC mission with tangible results. Second, for every dollar raised, it provides work hours for autistic adults and is an education for the students participating in their school’s fundraising as they learn about giving back.”
LUV Michael was formed in 2015, around Michael Kessaris, a 17-year-old man on the autism spectrum who had a passion for cooking by his mother, Dr. Lisa Liberatore. All of LUV Michael’s high quality organic, gluten-free and nut-free granola products are made by individuals on the spectrum from start to finish. The nonprofit is committed to creating and providing meaningful culinary jobs to the autistic population. Donations and purchases allow for the training, education and employment of individuals on the autism spectrum and help improve their lives beyond the lives of their parents.
“As a parent and founder of LUV Michael, it means so much that NDF shares the same values of kindness, inclusion and community (#KIC),” says Dr. Liberatore. “As partners in this message, we are making both of our organizations stronger.”
Several of NDF’s Committee Members and Proud Partners were the first to have had success with this joint fundraising effort, including Geo Hubela of Icon Dance Complex who raised $42,630, and Julie Kay Stallup of Dance Dynamics who raised $12,317.
“It was so organized, and the parents were just blown away at how easy it was and how good we felt doing it for such a great cause,” expressed Stallup in a video testimonial about the studio’s successful fundraiser. “We can’t wait to do it again and to help families that might be having a harder time. It’s playing it forward, and students can use it for volunteer service hours which is very important.”
Currently, many dance studios from across the nation are participating in this important fundraising
partnership between NDF and LUV Michael that gives 50 percent of the money raised to each team, is 100 percent online and is completed in just seven days. Each participant at a studio gets their own customizable campaign page to which they can add a profile picture, note or video. LUV Michael also provides fundraisers with a few suggested messages to share with family and friends to help spread the word about the campaign, autism acceptance and the mission at LUV Michael. LUV Michael then donates 5 percent of every fundraiser to NDF to support NDF’s mission.
Finally, donors to the fundraiser receive a handwritten thank you card and some of the all-natural granola prepared in LUV Michael’s state-of-the-art bakery by individuals on the autism spectrum shipped right to their door.
To learn more about how your studio or dance team can create a ‘Share the LUV’ fundraising campaign, visit nationaldancefoundation.org/luvmichaelfundraising.