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Going the Distance Initiative Supports Horned Frogs in Times of Need

Business students Mateo Gonzalez, Lauren Danke, Juan Avila and Dawson Gordon from the BNSF Neeley Leadership Program launch a new student aid program, assisting fellow TCU peers with academic expenses.

December 02, 2021

By Nicholas Ferrandino

A new student aid initiative has emerged at the TCU Neeley School of Business, providing an avenue for students to assist their fellow peers with the fiscal hardships of university life.

Going the Distance (GTD) is an impact project spearheaded by a team of four senior business students in the BNSF Neeley Leadership Program: Mateo Gonzalez, Lauren Danke, Juan Avila and Dawson Gordon.

The student-led initiative seeks to give TCU students and alumni the opportunity to donate money through fundraising or direct application to a pool fund. That money is then used to provide monetary assistance to other students struggling to cover the expenses of university life, whether it be purchasing required textbooks, paying for food, rent or even school supplies.

Mateo Gonzalez, Lauren Danke, Juan Avila and Dawson Gordon

“We all had a common goal of helping students stay at TCU, and we felt that Going the Distance was the best way to accomplish that,” Gordon said.

“We wanted to give students who are struggling with finances the opportunity to succeed,” Danke added.

Students in the business school can fill out an application for funding online, which is processed by TCU Neeley’s Office of Inclusive Excellence. Applications are sent to the GTD team where Gonzalez, Danke, Avila and Gordon review each individual request, then make the final decision on the amount they will provide. The four students also serve as the marketing team for their program, developing media and planning promotional events to spread the word about Going the Distance across the university.

Since its conception, the GTD team has been working alongside the Office of Inclusive Excellence as well as its director, Ann Tasby, to bring the program to life. Together, they have made their concept a reality in a matter of months.

“The Going the Distance team have been very proactive in doing everything necessary to get this program off the ground,” Tasby said. “They went from concept to implementation in effectively one semester, which is crazy.”

One of the biggest challenges the team faced was raising the necessary funds to kick-start their program. With the help of Tasby, Dean Pullin and other TCU Neeley professors, the GTD team prepared a presentation to pitch their program to the Neeley Board of Advisors. Entering the meeting with an initial ask of $15,000, the team left with more than $20,000 to help bring their program to life.

“The students were able to communicate in a clear, concise and compelling manner to our Neeley Board of Advisors on how this program could really help our students,” Tasby said.

As they continue their work on the program, the GTD team is looking for a new group of undergraduates who can take charge of it once they graduate. Since it’s their senior year, they want to ensure that this program continues to be led by students, for students.

“We’re not sure where this program is going to be once we graduate. But what we do know is that we want it to continue making an impact,” Gonzalez said.

“Being able to see how we’re enabling people to get the most out of TCU Neeley has been, I think, the most gratifying experience overall,” Avila added.

Even though the GTD team will graduate in spring, all four members intend to continue supporting the program beyond college, with plans to make it available to the rest of the university as it evolves.

Learn more about the program here.