DU Alumni

Hospitality grad’s gift carries a challenge for other young alums

To begin building a lifelong relationship with their alma mater, young alumni should get involved within the first five years after graduation, says Nick Phelps (BSBA ’09). His commitment to the idea runs so deeply that he made a gift to the University of Denver that could help spur others’ involvement.

Phelps’ recent gift to the Fritz Knoebel School of Hospitality Management carries with it a challenge to other alums to invest as well. His gift will match those of other young Knoebel School alumni, encouraging their involvement while meeting the school’s most urgent needs.

His motivation — and his pitch to fellow young alums — lies in increasing the value of the degree and in fostering the relationships built at DU. “The value of our degree isn’t determined by the people who have come before us, but rather the next generation that graduates,” Phelps says. “The best thing we can do to increase the value of our degree is to ensure that the next generation is better than we were.”

Phelps is co-owner of From the Farmer, a booming Washington, D.C. based company that provides home delivery of fresh, seasonal produce. When Phelps and his business partner, Jason Lundberg (BSAC ’10), started the company, they worked out of Phelps’ mother’s garage to sort and deliver produce to about 30 customers. Now adding 500 customers a month, From the Farmer serves 4,000 people in a region with an increasing demand for delivery-based services. Phelps’ perspective on the company’s impact reveals his roots in the hospitality field and his passion for service.

“If I can save my clients an hour that they can then spend on their work or their interests — that’s what we’re here to do,” he says.

His recent investment in the University reflects that same commitment to service and connection, and his passion has strong roots in his time as a student. He and Lundberg were members of the Pioneer Leadership Program; they also started the DU Grilling Society, cooking for 2,000 students one homecoming.

In Phelps’ view, a student’s time on campus is the first and shortest step in a lifelong relationship with the University. He likens it to a climbing wall, with the first pitch being the first job after college, and every following step a new opportunity to relate to the university where the climb began.

The key to maintaining that relationship, he says, is the University connecting with alumni within the first five years after they graduate. He suggests that education about philanthropy should start in a student’s first year, a move that would go a long way toward building a lasting culture of philanthropy.

With the University where it is today — as a “shining star” under Chancellor Rebecca Chopp’s leadership, Phelps says — he believes this is the perfect opportunity for DU to expand its reach and connect even more purposefully with alumni.

“As long as you remember that this is the foundation you come from, you’ll be a part of the family forever,” he says.





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