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Invite to Ignite Challenge Ignites Success

Posted on Tuesday, September 12, 2023

New members are essential for the long-term health and success of ARCS Foundation as they bring original ideas and a new perspective. They also ignite new friendships and spur a passion for STEM to support scientific advancement in the United States.

This year, all fifteen of ARCS Foundation’s regional chapters were presented with a new challenge: increase membership. The “Invite to Ignite Challenge” was the first annual membership contest to encourage new members into chapters. The top three chapters with the largest increases in dues-paying members from July 1, 2022, to June 30, 2023, could win cash prizes.

The first-place winner of $2,000 was the Illinois chapter, with a 29.55% increase in members. Second place, with a 25% increase in members, was the Utah chapter, and they received $1,500. In third place was the Minnesota chapter, with a 21.88% increase in members. They received $1,000 for placing third.

Members Jill Bray and Sara Jean Burke were the leads for this challenge as Co-Chairs of Chapter Engagement. “The first year of the Invite to Ignite membership campaign was a great success. ARCS Foundation brought in 123 new members across the network of fifteen chapters,” says Bray.

“Sara Jean and I were very pleased that chapters that needed to boost their membership did so through hard work and commitment to recruitment,” says Bray. “We want to congratulate Illinois, Utah and Minnesota for taking home the Invite to Ignite prize money.”

ARCS Illinois Chapter President Sandra Mangurian was surprised when their chapter won the challenge. The COVID-19 pandemic pushed Illinois to work with, not against, the “new normal” by thinking outside of the box to expand its network of potential members.

The chapter recruited scholar alumni, family members, previous chapter members, and friends of friends with a combination of informal events and peer recruiting. Mangurian also credits promotions to other organizations in the Chicago community for this success.

“The motivation was intrinsic: let’s work together to support the next generation of scientific innovators and advance the nation’s global competitiveness,” she says.

The money can be used by chapters for membership recruitment, retention, or appreciation. Some ideas ARCS National suggested were:

  1. Host a new member event
  2. Celebrate the chapter and its new members with an appreciation night
  3. Plan a networking event for new and current members to meet and mingle
  4. Invite your chapter’s scholars to dinner with members
  5. Plan a welcome event for new members
  6. Create a virtual or in-person event for your chapter such as a webinar, panel discussion, workshop, or course
  7. Start a mentorship program

Mangurian likes the idea of an appreciation event. “We're still absorbing the unexpected win,” said Mangurian. “We had just started a conversation about an appreciation event that could also serve as an opportunity for introducing potential new members to the chapter.”

How will the other winning chapters celebrate their achievement? To learn more about ARCS and discover ways to donate, visit


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