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Our top priority is providing value to members. Your Member Services team is here to ensure you maximize your ACS member benefits, participate in College activities, and engage with your ACS colleagues. It's all here.

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Foundation Donations at Work

Chapter Initiatives Fund Supports Local Efforts to Advance the College’s Mission

Diane S. Schneidman, MA

July 1, 2022

The Chapter Initiatives Fund provides members with the opportunity to contribute to the many worthwhile efforts that their chapters undertake. The Tennessee and the North Dakota Chapters have amassed considerable support—$30,000 and $20,000, respectively—and are putting the funds to effective use.

Chapters of the American College of Surgeons (ACS) play an integral role in supporting the residents, fellows, and surgeons who train and practice in their states and cities. Many of the valuable activities the chapters offer can be conducted using funds collected through chapter dues, but others are dependent on deeper pockets.

With this thought in mind, the ACS Foundation launched the Chapter Initiatives Fund in conjunction with its 1913 Legacy Campaign, which celebrated the College’s Centennial. The Chapter Initiatives Fund provides members with the opportunity to contribute to the many worthwhile efforts that their chapters undertake. The Tennessee and the North Dakota Chapters have amassed considerable support—$30,000 and $20,000, respectively—and are putting the funds to effective use.

Tennessee Chapter Initiatives Fund

The Tennessee Chapter started its fund in 2018, according to ACS Regent Kenneth Sharp,MD, FACS, a Past-President of the Tennessee Chapter and member of the Foundation Board of Directors.

“The idea was that a state chapter can start this fund to support the mission of the chapter. You can use these funds to do whatever is going to help your chapter,” Dr. Sharp said. “The Tennessee Chapter raised several thousand dollars the first year.”

One way that the chapter was able to become the leader in the Chapter Initiatives Fund was that Dr. Sharp became a champion of the program and would explain to chapter members that all contributions to the fund are tax-deductible. He also offered to match all donations of up to $250, according to Wanda McKnight, Tennessee Chapter Administrator.

“I wanted to use the funds that the Tennessee Chapter has raised to encourage young surgeons in the state of Tennessee to join our chapter,” Dr. Sharp said. “We’re like every other chapter in America in that we’ve got 1,100 or 1,200 members of the College in our state, but we’ve only got 300 or 400 who are members of the chapter.

“My thought was, ‘Let’s do something that gets young surgeons interested and engaged in their state chapter,’” he added. “I figured we could send young surgeons to the Leadership & Advocacy Summit or to Clinical Congress and pay for their travel expenses and registration fees.”

For the chapter’s first initiative, it gave a young woman surgeon from eastern Tennessee a $2,200 traveling scholarship to attend the 2019 Clinical Congress in San Francisco, CA, at which she was inducted into the College. “That was enough to cover her airfare, hotels, meals, and registration,” Dr. Sharp said.

More recently, the chapter sent three young surgeons to the 2022 ACS Leadership & Advocacy Summit this April in Washington, DC, and will be sending one or two more to Clinical Congress 2022 in San Diego, CA, McKnight said.

In addition, the chapter is establishing a scholarship with support from Meharry Medical College, Nashville, in memory of alumna Dorothy Brown, MD, FACS. This fund will provide $500 to a medical student who is underrepresented in medicine to travel to another Tennessee university and explore additional educational opportunities in the state.

“The idea was that a state chapter can start this fund to support the mission of the chapter. You can use these funds to do whatever is going to help your chapter. The Tennessee Chapter raised several thousand dollars the first year.”

—Kenneth Sharp, MD, FACS

North Dakota Chapter Initiatives Fund

The North Dakota Chapter intends to use its funds to offer STOP THE BLEED® (STB®) training, according to Mary O. Aaland, MD, FACS, Past-Governor of the ACS, who also serves on the Foundation’s Board of Directors.

“We have 53 counties in North Dakota, and each county has a public health nurse or a county nurse, and we would like to work with the county seats to provide them with instructor training and kits,” which cost roughly $1,000 each. “Then, anybody can simply check out the instructor kit and use it to teach bleeding control at the local church or school and other public places. We really want to get all the rural citizens trained in STOP THE BLEED®,” she said.

To lead this effort, Dr. Aaland is partnering with a surgical resident who is a volunteer paramedic “because I want to get young people enthused about this,” she said. The initiative will launch in two counties where Dr. Aaland has already done STB training.

“I’ve taught more than 1,400 people already, but in the last year, COVID put me behind,” she said. “I partnered with the Future Business Leaders of America, and we taught the entire high school in Strasburg, ND.” In addition, she is bringing the training to other rural North Dakota towns to train local farmers as well as volunteer firefighters and emergency medical service personnel.

“Hopefully, then we will get local leaders involved to support the volunteers,” she said. “That’s the strategy.”

Dr. Aaland wants to continue training children and adolescents in bleeding control because many rural youths go to their grandparents’ house after school. Because many older adults are on anticoagulants, it is important that young people know how to stop bleeding if an older relative experiences a kitchen accident or trips and falls, because the nearest trauma center may be many miles away.

The instructor kits that the North Dakota Chapter is distributing contain a note stating that the materials are officially approved by the ACS and the Department of Defense and donated by the ACS North Dakota Chapter. The goal is to help the ACS and the chapter gain name recognition, Dr. Aaland said.

She also hopes that after young people undergo STB training, they will be encouraged to pursue a career in medicine or surgery. “A lot of rural kids say, ‘I’m just a poor farm kid. I could never be a surgeon,’ and I say, ‘I was just a poor farm girl, too, and I am a surgeon. If I did it, so can you,’” Dr. Aaland said.

“It’s part of my commitment to the communities and also because I’m very proud to be a member of the College,” she added.

“A lot of rural kids say, ‘I’m just a poor farm kid. I could never be a surgeon,’ and I say, ‘I was just a poor farm girl, too, and I am a surgeon. If I did it, so can you.’”

—Mary O. Aaland, MD, FACS

Details About the Fund

The fund is run under the auspices of the ACS Foundation, which holds contributions for the benefit of the respective chapter to use for:

  • Scholarships
  • Educational grants to cover portions of travel and accommodation expenses to attend the Clinical Congress and other national and international programs
  • ACS Research Scholarships and Fellowships
  • International Guest Scholarships
  • Initiatives that advance the College’s mission

A Chapter Initiatives Fund may be started with an initial deposit of $500, and once it reaches a principal balance of $2,000, funding for these efforts are advanced from the chapter’s coffers as appropriate.

A Chapter Fund Award Committee may submit a request to the ACS Foundation for monies to support an initiative. At present, 11 other US chapters have established Chapter Initiative Funds:

  • Connecticut
  • Florida
  • Georgia
  • Indiana
  • Louisiana
  • New York
  • Pennsylvania
  • South Dakota (also a top fundraiser, with $20,000)
  • South Texas
  • Virginia
  • Wisconsin

In addition, the North Carolina Chapter plans to start a Chapter Initiatives Fund this year.

“The Foundation makes it really simple to deposit and withdraw funds,” McKnight said. And because unused monies will be redirected to the College’s Greatest Needs Fund, “it’s a win-win for everyone.”

To establish a Chapter Initiative Fund, contact Shane Hollett, Executive Director, ACS Foundation, at shollett@facs.org, and Luke Moreau, Manager, Domestic Chapter Services, at lmoreau@facs.org.


Diane Schneidman is Editor-in-Chief, Bulletin of the American College of Surgeons, Division of Integrated Communications, Chicago, IL.