Alumni in Action Program Overview



Our shared history is replete with songs and lyrics nudging, encouraging, and sometimes imploring audiences to get outside themselves and engage in the world in a constructive way to break down barriers that separate nations and cultures. As Up With People participants, we “walked the talk.” Today, our history continues to call to us, as alumni, to engage in our communities, our nation, and around the world.

After our time on the road, we melted back into society to educate ourselves (or further our education), created families, careers and dreams. All too often there was no time or funds left for altruistic efforts, even if the heart was willing.

For twenty years the UWPIAA has been annually honoring individual alums for their selfless devotion to a cause, non-profit, or disaster relief through the J. Blanton Belk Outstanding Alumnus Award and the Everyday Hero Awards.

To further encourage volunteerism, alumni connectivity, and initiatives of the heart, the UWPIAA Board of Governors provides our Alumni-in-Action program. 

Alumni-in-Action encourages groups of alums to join hands in service to a cause wherever the heart leads. The project may just involve fellow alums or alums may reach outside the UWPIAA community to involve other volunteers, whether family, friends, or other organizations.

Its purposes are:

  • Continue our heritage of community and world service.
  • Promote Up With People throughout the world.
  • Build bridges of understanding.
  • Engage alumni in meaningful dialogue and activity.
  • Encourage alumni to think globally and act, globally or locally—together.
  • Enhance the opportunity for alumni to interact, connect, and have fun.


The UWPIAA Board of Governors will fund up to $1,000 per approved volunteer project.

Joplin, MO project October 2011/Carole Karlein, Laurie, Jean Bransford, Michael Bowerman, Steve Colwell, Deborah Senft, Keith Frohreich.

Alumni who have participated in a past shared project, such as post-Katrina recovery, have described the experience as a highlight of their lives. Old friendships were renewed and new life-long friendships were forged. Volunteerism brings out our better angels.

To further elevate the importance of this new program, the UWPIAA Board of Governors has approved a new standing committee and voted that its chair serve on the board.

The UWPIAA funds are not intended to cover all expenses associated with such efforts, because part of volunteering is a personal commitment of both time and resources. The program does not specify the type of expenses to be reimbursed. For example, if the group decides to spread the funds evenly to defray travel expenses, they may; if a group chooses to pay for car rentals or room and board, they may. Keep in mind, if a project includes others from outside the UWPIAA, the funds are limited to alumni participants and not intended for other volunteers. However, if the team decides to purchase materials for a project, such as lumber, paint or tools, obviously all volunteers would use such materials. This expense would still qualify for reimbursement.

Team leaders are encouraged to solicit additional funds from other alums or organizations. Past projects have shown that many alumni do not have the time to give several days or a week to a project, but will offer financial assistance.

How does it work?

  • Select a project; follow your passion. Any alum can conceive of or “hear the call.” Each project needs a leader.
  • Begin recruiting. (See later bullet point about recruitment.) The group could revolve around a cast, era, geographic area (such as a city, state or country), or a common interest, such as disaster relief as was the case for the post-Katrina and Joplin recovery projects.
  • The group leader submits the form linked here. As the application states, if the project involves longer range planning, it should be submitted at least two months in advance of the project. If the volunteer effort requires immediate organizing and response, then the form may be submitted after the volunteer effort with the required documentation.
  • The amount of funds available is up to $100 per person, with a per project cap of $1,000. The wording “up to $100 per person” is necessary because if a project is local and all of the participating alumni are local, the expenses will be lower. Again, this is not meant to cover all expenses, just to provide assistance.
  • The form must be submitted electronically. Please allow two weeks for approval.
  • Once the form is submitted, program chair will contact the team leader to verify essential information and to ensure that the leader has enough guidance as to what expense documentation is required.
  • If a potential team leader has a project in mind but feels limited in the ability to connect with other alumni, he/she should first contact their cast rep. If it is necessary to reach beyond one’s cast or era then the program chair should be contacted. The UWPIAA Communications Team can help publicize the project and request volunteers.

The scope of this program is intended to encourage volunteerism in its purest form. However, if the project is to organize others to perform in public as alumni, a request for funds may be made, especially if upfront money/deposit is required.

Approval of and monetary support for a volunteer or performance effort does not make the UWPIAA a “sponsor.” We simply intend to provide encouragement, links, and some monetary assistance. For liability purposes, as volunteers, you are responsible for your own safety while traveling to and from the volunteer activity and while you are completing the project. Those who have done this type of work before usually partner with or work through a much larger organization, such as church relief groups or Habitat for Humanity. Before working with them, forms are signed releasing them of any liability. Please refer to the Application Form.


C'84 Alumni help with a house building project in Mississippi after Katrina....left to right,Kim Malatinsky Brown, Jim Kitterman, Jeff Zadroga, Pierina Verelli, Angie Minicucci, Terry Hackworth, Keith Koller, Melanie Daniel Pafford, Kent Pafford, Amy Eisele Rule, Lee Walker.

If looking for ideas for volunteer projects, please refer to Alumni-in-Action Volunteer Links This is not meant to be a complete list, but could spur ideas of the kinds of projects you could become involved in.

Projecting forward, we hope there will be many submissions for funds and we will do our best to fund all project requests. But there is no guarantee. We will establish a budget early each calendar year, beginning January 1st and will award funds as projects are submitted and approved, until funds run out. The more successful we are at increasing alumni contributions each year, the more projects we can fund. We hope more alumni will increase or begin annual donations because of programs such as Alumni-in-Action.


Let’s all “Get back on the bus.”


Apply or review the Alumni in Action application

To contact the program chair with questions or for additional information, please use our contact form.