University of Minnesota Organizational Spotlight


To provide opportunities for student-athletes to develop personal, professional, and leadership skills through outreach and serving the community.

The University of Minnesota conducts all of its student-athlete community service through their Maroon and Gold Impacting the Community (or M.A.G.I.C.) program, which was established in 2003. This program was built on practices and guidelines from the NCAA Challenging Athletes Minds for Personal Success/Life Skills initiative (otherwise known as NCAA CHAMPS). Donations from the St. Jude Medical Foundation helped kickstart M.A.G.I.C. From its inception, M.A.G.I.C. has been dedicated to providing student-athletes with meaningful community impact opportunities. In 2007, the program grew as St. Jude Medical Foundation and Golden Gopher Athletics expanded M.A.G.I.C. to provide more leadership and service opportunities. This growth was fueled by the introduction of a branded M.A.G.I.C. Bus. The M.A.G.I.C. Bus allows student-athletes and staff greater access to youth in Minnesota, as well as bring them to campus. The M.A.G.I.C. Bus revolutionized how Gopher student-athletes are able to impact our community. In 2009, M.A.G.I.C. introduced the “Exercise Your Heart and Mind” campaign to encourage children to exercise to keep both their heart and mind healthy, as well as the “Tobacco Free is the Way to Be” initiative to talk with young people about the dangers of smoking and second-hand smoke. In recognition of these successful campaigns, Director of Student-Athlete Development Anissa Lightner, received the 2009 University of Minnesota President’s Award for Outstanding Service, celebrating her instrumental role in the success of these efforts. In 2017, Abbott acquired St. Jude Medical and has continued the annual financial support of M.A.G.I.C. and the successes of the program and Gopher student athletes. As it has for more than a decade, M.A.G.I.C. aspires to provide transformational development experiences for every Gopher student-athlete, coach, and staff member through community service opportunities. M.A.G.I.C. will continue to provide Golden Gopher Athletics with service opportunities that focus on personal development and improving all of Minnesota.


Loaves & Fishes – The Gopher Women’s Basketball team volunteer with the nonprofit organization, Loaves & Fishes. The student-athletes help prepare various meal courses and other physical goods such as socks and bags.

Winterfest Events – Student-athletes planned and hosted a Winterfest event in the Nutrition Center. With the help of current SAAC President, Christine Portillo, Winterfest partnered with local organization HandsOn Twin Cities to create a special volunteer opportunity for student-athletes. Everyone who attended the event was able to create and take home their own bundle with a comb, bar of soap, pair of socks, granola bar, and a note of encouragement.

 Children’s Hospital – The Gopher Women’s Hockey team visited a local children’s hospital to donate stuffed animals and teddy bears to kids, patients, and their families. The Women’s Hockey team received these stuffed animals when they encouraged fans to bring their own from home to a Gophers hockey game and donate them for the cause.

ACES 4 Kids – Gopher Football student-athletes participated in activities with students from the ACES 4 Kids program for a day of learning and fun at the Athletes Village. ACES 4 Kids is an out-of-school program that focuses on math and social-emotional learning. Most ACES lessons include sports as a theme to get kids excited about their learning. With locations in Minneapolis and Saint Paul, ACES provides a project-based curriculum for low-income kids in grades 4-8. As a part of their visit to the Athletes Village, ACES brought a small group of 4th, 5th and 6th graders to work closely with Gopher Football student-athletes. The staff from ACES prepared a curriculum based on goal setting and perseverance. Each Gopher football student-athlete paired up with an ACES student to help them set a goal of how many pushups they could do or how many bicep curls they could do, and they headed to the Bierman weight room to test those goals. After spending time in the weight room, the group spent time looking at the Nutrition Center, where student-athletes eat every day, and visited the 4th and 5th floor to explore the Lindahl Academic Center. In the Lindahl Academic Center, student-athletes talked about setting goals in the classroom and the importance of prioritizing academics even with their busy schedules. The young students from ACES had the opportunity to learn from Gopher football student-athletes and get a glimpse into the life of a busy college student-athlete. 

Bailey Whitbeck

Bailey Whitbeck

Sports Philanthropy Network

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