You and Blackburn: Winning Together

The Winning Together capital campaign is a meaningful – and pressing – opportunity to give students greater access to expanded athletic and recreational facilities on campus. The kind of access that’s been known to help retain students and attract new ones.

With your help, Blackburn can continue being a winning experience for student-athletes and non-athletes alike – along with faculty, staff, and the community.

Help make Blackburn’s home turf mean as much to the next generation as it has meant to you.

Student-Athletes are vital to Blackburn’s future

Today, more than 35% of our enrolled students participate in one of Blackburn’s 15 NCAA Division III intercollegiate teams, with an upward trajectory projected for the future.

Student-athletes are more invested in Blackburn because of their athletic involvement. As a result, they tend to have higher GPAs, higher retention rates, and higher graduation rates. For every volleyball player or golfer we recruit, we are also recruiting an artist, a business major, or a future educator.

The vital role that athletics plays in attracting new students to Blackburn — and in keeping them here — cannot be overstated.

Playing basketball for the Beavers sharpened my leadership skills as much as my game. The upcoming renovations and expansions will keep our athletic facilities competitive with other schools, help grow enrollment, and continue to build Blackburn’s well-rounded legacy of success.

Our Challenge

We are long overdue in addressing the needs of our athletics and recreational programs. Blackburn’s current facilities are not meeting the needs of our campus, which presents multiple opportunities for your support:

  • Different programs compete for limited times on one shared court, resulting in challenging and undesirable practice schedules.

  • There are limited opportunities for intramural programs and individual recreation activities for everyone on campus to enjoy.

  • The lack of practice facilities limits crucial training to compete at the college level; outdoor facilities are limited to daylight hours only, which disrupts student academic, work, and extracurricular schedules.
  • State-of-the-art venues to host summer camps, leagues or tournaments are missing from the region; spaces vital for fostering and strengthening community connections.

Read the letter from Carlinville native, Blackburn College Trustee, and Winning Together Campaign Chair, J.D. Sandfort.

Greetings from Winning Together!

My name is J. D. Sandfort. I first served as a member of the Board of Trustees from 2004 – 2008 and rejoined the Board in 2014. While not an alum, I grew up in Carlinville and have come to love the school, its mission, and students. Blackburn College has the opportunity to educate youngsters, many of whom are the first in their families to attend college, and give them opportunities to change the direction of their lives. They learn in the classroom, through our student-managed Work Program, and on the athletic fields and courts. The knowledge and experience they gain during their four years at Blackburn enable them to confidently move forward and explore amazing opportunities after College.

In addition to serving on the Board, I have the privilege of serving as Chair of the Winning Together fundraising campaign. Our campaign will raise the funds to honor the promise of excellence to our student-athletes through the construction of a new indoor athletic practice facility and the renovation of Dawes Gymnasium.

Our entire Board of Trustees is confident that the Winning Together campaign will be truly transformative for the College, the environment and the student experience. Why? Our students have told us that their involvement in athletics helps them relate to their fellow students better. It helps them with their mental and physical health. It teaches them leadership skills. And gives them confidence. And, it is not just what the students tell us. The numbers bear this out. Students who participate in athletics have better grades. Are more likely to remain in school. And graduate.

I encourage you to join Winning Together — support this campaign with your resources and share its message with your friends and family. With your partnership, we will achieve our goals and provide our students with even better opportunities in the future. Thank you for your continued support of Blackburn College and our exceptional students.


J.D. Sandfort
Campaign Chair

Support Blackburn’s Winning Future >

Apr 30, 2024
Pictured from left to right are Dr. Meyer, Matt Slightom, Dave Hurley, and Ed Lamar in front of the Blackburn Athletic Center to celebrate CNB's recent contribution of $10,000 to Winning Together, A Campaign for Athletics & Enrollment at Blackburn College.
CNB Contributes $10,000 to Blackburn College Winning Together Campaign Office of Marketing & Public Relations / Announcements
Apr 10, 2024
Three men stand together on construction site, future home of a golf performance center.
New Indoor Athletic Facility to Feature Cress “Bud” Maddox Golf Performance Center Office of Marketing & Public Relations / Announcements
Oct 19, 2023
Sarah Koplinski, headshot
Blackburn Names Sarah Koplinski Vice President for Institutional Advancement Office of Marketing & Public Relations / Announcements
Sep 25, 2023
Wide view of the Dawes-Woodward Athletic Center.
Blackburn Receives $4.8 Million Grant from the Illinois Dept. of Commerce and Economic Opportunity Office of Marketing & Public Relations / Press Releases
Jul 25, 2023
Seven individuals representing Blackburn College and community organization Winning Communities gather on the Blackburn College tennis courts and the future site of the "Winning Communities Pickleball Courts"
Winning Communities Pickleball Center To Be Part of Re-Invented Gugger Family Racquet & Hoops Complex at Blackburn College Office of Marketing & Public Relations / Announcements
May 02, 2023
Ceremonial Groundbreaking Kicks Off Construction of New $6+ Million Indoor Athletic Facility Office of Marketing & Public Relations / Press Releases

Your Opportunity

The Winning Together campaign is your opportunity to help build a critical new chapter of Blackburn’s legacy. The game-changers will be the renovation of Dawes Gymnasium, construction of a new practice facility, expansion of athletic and intramural opportunities on campus, and development of additional revenue streams and partnerships with the surrounding community.

Growth requires space. With your support, we can revitalize and expand our athletic facilities and student enrollment.

These enhancements will elevate our dedicated coaching staff’s ability to recruit, retain, and develop student-athletes — and your participation will help them ramp up their efforts in support of the Winning Together campaign.

Benefits on campus and off

Not only will modernized athletics facilities provide more room for students to form lifelong habits around physical and emotional health — they will give us the tools to develop additional revenue streams and partnerships with our surrounding communities.

Area residents will gain local access to:

  • Modern athletics resources to train or rent
  • New camps and tournaments to inspire the next generation of Blackburn athletes
  • Championship-winning teams to support and take pride in

Campaign Kickoff & Groundbreaking

Blackburn is Groundbreaking

Blackburn broke ground on a new 40,000-square-foot indoor athletic practice facility site, which will provide vital indoor space for the College’s NCAA DIII athletic programs and essential intramural and recreation room for the entire campus.

Read more about the Groundbreaking Ceremony
Dawes Gym

Moving forward while honoring our heritage

As an integral part of our campus, the Dawes-Woodward complex houses our gymnasium, athletic staff offices, fitness center, and locker rooms. Blackburn students built Dawes in 1938 — so there is a deep commitment to updating this historic facility.

Winning Together, we can honor the proud tradition of Blackburn athletics and the promise of excellence to our student-athletes with updated facilities on campus for use by all students, faculty, staff, and the community.

Blackburn is one of nearly 500 NCAA Division III institutions, where the focus is on student-athlete development, not on an awarded athletic scholarship.

Support Blackburn's Winning Future

Not only will modernized athletics facilities provide more room for students to form lifelong habits around physical and emotional health — they will give us the tools to develop additional revenue streams and partnerships with our surrounding communities.

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