Opening Doors Raises $222K to Support Students

Published: October 12, 2023

The College of Western Idaho (CWI) Foundation's Opening Doors Benefit Event was a fantastic night filled with community support and fun. The 10th-annual event and online auction, Sept. 27 – Oct. 8, raised more than $222,000* for student scholarships.

The live event, hosted Oct. 4 at the Galaxy Event Center in Meridian, came alive with CWI leaders, success stories, and a lively auction. It was a night to remember, celebrating education and local generosity. The night featured former CWI Foundation Board President, Ivan Castillo, as emcee. Guests heard remarks from current CWI Foundation Board President, Mike Peña, CWI Vice President of Advancement, Mark Arstein, and CWI President, Gordon Jones.

Joining the event were several current students and scholarship recipients representing a wide range of major areas including Law Enforcement program 2022 graduate, Emily Daniels. Daniels, now a Trooper with the Idaho State Police safeguarding the Idaho State Capitol, shared her CWI journey.

Having not been in a classroom since graduating high school in 2000, Daniels, a non-traditional student who embarked on a public safety career after raising a family, praises CWI for its unwavering support. She emphasized how the College, along with its Law Enforcement program and dedicated instructors, played a pivotal role in equipping her with the education and skills necessary to complete the Peace Officers Standards Training (POST) without the burden of student debt.

“The Treasure Valley is booming, and we are 100% in need of more technical jobs and first responder jobs,” Daniels said. “The students of today are the future of tomorrow. They're going to be our nurses, our doctors, our Emergency Medical Technicians (EMT) just as my son is pursuing right now. They're going to be the ones providing care for you and your family. Investing into the students today is monumental in determining the success of tomorrow for our society and our community.”

Guests at the in-person event enjoyed dinner, drinks, and dessert as well as the chance to participate in a silent and live auction, the latter of which was conducted by auctioneer, Kevin Seward.

This year's auction had several unique items, including exquisite metal art crafted by CWI students, stunning wall art by a CWI graduate, captivating experience packages generously contributed by community members, tickets to sporting events that set hearts racing across the region, and much more.

To close out this year’s in-person event, Castillo invited guests to participate in a paddle raise, where supporters of CWI pledged various amounts of money to donate to the CWI Foundation. The activity saw pledges as high as $5,000.

Money Raised for CWI Foundation

In-Person Benefit Event Auction and Donations
Wednesday, Oct. 4

Total: $68,450*

Online Auctions and Donations
Sept. 27 – Oct. 8

Total: $7,826*


Total: $146,500

Grand Total Raised: $222,776*

*The numbers are an early estimate before finalized expenses. 

“Opening Doors is a great tradition at CWI,” Arstein said. “This year's remarkable event has not only brought our community together but has also raised an astounding $220,000 in support of the College's mission. It's a testament to the dedication and generosity of our donors and supporters who understand the impact CWI has on the lives of our students. Thank you to all who contributed. We're now one step closer to opening doors to brighter futures for thousands of students."

It is never too late to give the gift of education. Visit the CWI Foundation online to learn more and donate today.

Contact the Foundation at 208.562.3100 or for more information and ways to get involved.

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