Individual donors and partner organizations are propelling WCU students to greater success. Discover the latest happenings from across our Foundation’s initiatives.
WEST CHESTER—Construction is underway to build a new fountain and plaza at a major West Chester University and borough gateway.
The Roger and Agnes Ware Plaza will be located on the northwest corner of High Street and Rosedale Avenue.
The plaza is made possible through the generosity of Agnes and Roger Ware, Class of ’82.
“The focal point of the Plaza is a fountain which will redefine the entrance to the campus by providing a welcoming place and an iconic feature for the future of WCU,” reads a release issued by the university.
Bancroft, of Wilmington, is performing the work.
Roger Ware Jr. graduated from West Chester University with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Criminal Justice in 1982. Ware has served as President and CEO of Jencap Insurance Services Inc. (formerly Genesee General) since 1998.
The fountain and plaza will be a part of the President’s Walk, which will stretch from the High Street and Rosedale Avenue intersection to the Quad and in back of Philips Memorial Building.
A decades-old stone sign was removed to make way for the project. It was a favored spot for graduates to snap photos at on Commencement Day. That marker will be replaced with a backlight sign across the wall of the stairs at the new plaza.
The fountain is composed of two large concentric spray rings, 22 feet (ring 1) and 15 feet (ring 2) in diameter with arching multi-stream jets, and four vertical multi-stream jets fed from a smaller ring (ring 3) at the center of the feature with underwater light fixtures inboard of the two spray rings and at the central vertical jets.
Each ring will feature 20 jets (40 ring jets and 4 central jets, total). All jets are installed flush with the pavement.
There are four central jets, or column jets, arrayed at 90 degrees on a diameter of 16 inches at the center of the fountain. These jets are also mounted flush with the plaza.
The fountain will be lit at night. Controlled operation of the fountain will be based on weather, especially wind speed, and temperature below 40 degrees F.
West Chester President Chris Fiorentino is pleased with the new addition of campus. Work is expected to be completed, with a dedication taking place on Sept. 25.
“West Chester University is deeply grateful to Agnes and Roger Ware, ’82, for their kindness in transforming West Chester University’s entrance,” Fiorentino said. “The Roger and Agnes Ware Plaza, as complemented by the Ware Fountain, will soon act as the university’s signature entrance.
“Making the corner of High Street and Rosedale Avenue an attractive focal point will enhance WCU and will also contribute to our town’s natural beauty. We are excited to formally recognize and celebrate Agnes and Roger on Saturday, Sept. 25, during a special dedication that will be held in their honor on the grounds of the new plaza.”
By Bill Rettew, Daily Local News
PUBLISHED: August 26, 2021 at 5:33 p.m.
UPDATED: August 26, 2021 at 7:11 p.m.
WCU Foundation Closes Fiscal Year with $13.8 Million in Gifts & Future Commitments
While the nature of COVID-19 has changed the tools our students need to reach their goals, it has not changed their passion to become WCU graduates – and so, even through a pandemic, student success remains at the heart of our philanthropic mission.
Through the generosity of alumni, University friends and family, and community partners, the West Chester University Foundation secured almost $14 million in outright and future commitments in the 2020-21 fiscal year (July 1 – June 30th), with $7.5 million in outright gifts.
How did we accomplish this?
Our donors. This past year, donors continued their commitment to students through investing in scholarships and technology, as well as creating opportunities for every student who calls West Chester University home. Our donors funded hundreds of scholarships, awards, fellowships, and programs that support academic and co-curricular activities.
Leadership gifts continue to support the development of The Sciences & Engineering Center and The Commons, a 175,000 square-foot facility that will serve as a dedicated learning environment for the next generation of engineers, nurses, nutritionists, physicists, public health professionals, and scientists.
As we prepare to welcome students back to campus in the fall and make plans to celebrate the University’s 150th anniversary, we reflect on the inspirational and unwavering support of the benefactors of West Chester University; of their gifts, big and small; and of the bright future ahead.
CASE Announces 2021 Circle of Excellence Awards Winners
On June 9, the Council for Advancement and Support of Education announced its 2021 Circle of Excellence Awards winners. West Chester University Foundation is the proud recipient of a Silver Award in the Special Events | Online (Fundraising) Category.
Seeking a silver lining in the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, West Chester University Foundation developed a strategy to transform the annual President’s Circle Dinner into a unique event that would recreate moments of in-person camaraderie, networking, and recognition for loyal and annual donors in a virtual world.
A series of three virtual engagement opportunities, coined President’s Circle Socials, culminated in a President’s Circle Celebration and allowed donors from across the country to attend all events, or just one. The Socials featured a video message from the University President; two “mingle” rooms; a Foundation update; and a featured University speaker – there were even surprise visits from Rammy, the University’s mascot.
The President’s Circle Celebration featured student musicians, a Presidential State-of-the-University, a preview of the upcoming sesquicentennial anniversary celebration, recognition of new donor society members, and impact videos. The Celebration capitalized on the opportunity to reinforce the impact of our President’s Circle donor societies, while also continuing to celebrate and welcome new donors.
These peer-selected and adjudicated awards honor institutions worldwide whose talented staff have advanced their organizations through their resourcefulness and ingenuity.
Winners are selected based on several factors, including overall quality, innovation, use of resources and the impact on the institution or its external and internal communities, such as alumni, parents, students, and faculty and staff.
“This year’s CASE Circle of Excellence Awards highlight the creative, nimble, and innovative approaches our members bring to championing the success of their institutions,” says CASE President and CEO Sue Cunningham.
“Advancing education has never been more important, and the Circle of Excellence Awards celebrate the innovative work that has contributed to that vital societal outcome. This year, CASE member schools, colleges, and universities across the CASE global membership were faced with challenges that have never been seen before, and advancement professionals demonstrated their skills and sensitivity as they created inspiring and important work to engage their communities in entirely new ways.”
In 2021, CASE received almost 3,000 entries from 27 countries. Those entries came from 530 institutions for consideration across 100 categories.
CASE believes in advancing education to transform lives and society. As a global non-profit membership association of educational institutions, CASE helps develop the communities of professional practice that build institutional resilience and success in challenging times. The communities include staff engaged in alumni relations, advancement services, communications, fundraising, government relations, marketing, and student recruitment. CASE is volunteer-led and uses the intellectual capital of senior practitioners to build capacity and capability across the world.
CASE has offices in Washington, D.C., London, Singapore and Mexico City. Member institutions include more than 3,600 colleges and universities, primary and secondary independent and international schools, and non-profit organizations in 82 countries. CASE serves more than 90,000 practitioners. For more information about CASE, please visit https://www.case.org/.
With our Presidential Scholarship Community Gala – the 2021: G.A.L.A. – mission accomplished, we’d like to share the outcome of this innovative nine-week spring fundraising program. More than 400 alumni, friends, parents, faculty, staff, and community members participated in one or more of the six virtual event offerings, securing $162,500 in sponsorships, ticket sales, and donations. The inaugural Charter Day of Giving accounted for more than $42,000 – on that day, donors supported 32 funds, including college Excellence Funds, the Dowdy Multicultural Center, and Golden Ram Athletics.
We also thank our 2021: G.A.L.A. Steering Committee for their guidance, and especially our co-chairs, James P. Shinehouse ’80 and Patricia Shinehouse.
Your loyalty, generosity, and participation allow us to Give, Advance, Lead, and Achieve in support of student success at West Chester University. Take a look at this year’s virtual program booklet here, and be sure to save the date of Saturday, April 2, 2022 for next year’s 39th Annual Presidential Scholarship Community Gala at Longwood Gardens.
Room, Board & Expenses Waived for Five WCU Students
The Brook J. Lenfest Foundation and Philadelphia Foundation are launching the Lenfest Immensitas Scholars Program for youth in foster care and aging out of foster care, an innovative large-scale initiative designed to increase college graduation among up to 100 Philadelphians annually. Immensitas (pronounced immense-it-tas) is Latin for “boundless” and signifies the unlimited potential of every youth, as well as the life opportunities available to those with a college degree.
Under Pennsylvania’s Fostering Independence Tuition Waiver Program, tuition and fees for undergraduate degrees at colleges and universities in Pennsylvania are waived for youth in foster care to reduce financial barriers.
The $1.8 million Lenfest Immensitas Scholars Program will cover room, board and expenses such as books, computers, essentials for dorm living, while simultaneously leveraging an extensive support system for participants. Supports will include academic advising, a summer bridge program, housing and meals during school breaks, financial and money management guidance and a designated liaison at each school.
“I believe that education can make all men and women equal regardless of what neighborhood they are from or what their economic start in life was like,” said Brook Lenfest. “Through education, anyone can broaden their horizons and enrich their outlook on life and pursue any career path that exists. Through that freedom, they can find fulfillment, economic security and, ultimately, a happy life.”
“Unfortunately, access to educational opportunity is not equal across all neighborhoods and households. These scholarships are a small way to try and even the scales of opportunity,” he added.
“I know the recipients will make themselves proud and in turn, make me proud by achieving at a high level and I hope their example will encourage others to join this effort with their support.”
Approximately 250 Philadelphia youth annually age out of foster care beginning at age 18. It is estimated that only 3% of former foster youth who enroll in college will graduate.
“Philadelphia Foundation believes in the critical role of education in shaping and preparing future leaders,” said Pedro Ramos, President and CEO of Philadelphia Foundation. “As long-time funders of both educational opportunities and vulnerable populations, we are proud to partner with the Brook J. Lenfest Foundation on this important initiative and look forward to bringing it to scale.”
The largest component of the Lenfest Immensitas Scholars Program is a two-year pathway to an associate degree at Harcum College for 80 students annually through a partnership with I-Lead’s ACE (Achieve College Education) program. Under the Harcum/I-Lead partnership, two community-based locations will provide services to support participants in completing their degrees. Delta Community Supports, Inc. in Glenside is the first of two locations. The second site is being developed with Project Home.
Twenty scholars will also be funded, annually, at three additional colleges:
- Five scholars at Penn State University’s main campus
- Five scholars at West Chester University
- Ten scholars at Penn College of Technology, which offers associate degrees.
To be eligible for the Lenfest Immensitas Scholars Program, the applicant must have been served by the Philadelphia Department of Human Services at any time since age 16, earned a high school degree or GED and must qualify under the Chafee federal grant program for foster care participants.
Contact the designated representatives listed below to learn more about how to apply.
West Chester University
Deputy Director of Financial Aid
About the Brook J. Lenfest Foundation
The Brook J. Lenfest Foundation is a charitable foundation established by Brook J. Lenfest in 2000, whose trustees include Brook, his wife Anna and his mother Marguerite. It is dedicated to making people aware of positive life choices and providing support and opportunities for those motivated to pursue them. Its grants focus mainly on education, job training and mentoring programs.
Philadelphia Foundation provides administrative and management support services for the Brook J. Lenfest Foundation. It receives grant applications and distributes grants approved by the Brook J. Lenfest Foundation Board of Directors.
About Philadelphia Foundation
Founded in 1918, Philadelphia Foundation strengthens the economic, social and civic vitality of Greater Philadelphia. Philadelphia Foundation grows effective philanthropic investment, connects individuals and institutions across sectors and geography, and advances civic initiatives through partnerships and collaboration. A publicly supported foundation, the Philadelphia Foundation manages more than 1,000 charitable funds established by its donors and makes over 1,000 grants and scholarship awards each year. To learn more visit www.philafound.org.
Inaugural Charter Day of Giving Recap
These gifts provide immediate impact across campus to support our students when they need it the most. We are grateful for all of those who participated in this 24-hour initiative – WCU’s first-ever Day of Giving was a success because of you!
2021: G.A.L.A. Launches with Successful "Hamilton" Event
Last night’s LIVE event via Zoom with Hamilton cast members was an awesome way to launch West Chester University’s 38th Annual Presidential Scholarship Community Gala. Broadway performers Tia Altinay and Fergie L. Philippe shared great stories, songs, and insights – Tia’s advice about finding your true authentic self to be successful as an artist AND in life was an inspiration!
Don’t miss remaining events in the live, virtual 2021: G.A.L.A. series, because you never know what great life lessons might be shared. The upcoming schedule includes: Cartooning with a Disney Artist, Saturday, February 27 at 2 p.m.; Wayne Hoffman in Distant Deceptions: An Interactive Virtual Mind-Reading & Illusion Show, Thursday, April 1 at 7 p.m.; “Drag Queen Bingo”, Friday, April 9 at 7 p.m.; An Evening with Henry Winkler, Saturday, April 27 at 8 p.m.; Meet & Greet with Henry Winkler, Saturday, April 27 at 9 p.m.
Santander Bank’s $50K Supports WCU’s First-Generation Students and Entrepreneurship
In a difficult year for everyone, Santander Bank has made things easier for West Chester University’s first-generation students by providing $50,000 for several programs that give the students real-world business experience while bolstering local commerce.
WCU juniors and seniors who are among the first in their families to attend college are eligible for three-credit Santander internships that, this year, supported the Chester County’s Covid-19 response as well as local startups, small businesses, and non-profits. Students completed their internships in the summer or fall of 2020.
Pattie Diggin directs WCU’s Cottrell Entrepreneurial Leadership Center and is administering the Santander programs, which align with the University’s entrepreneurship programming and education.
“Thanks to Santander’s generosity, we are able to match first-generation students eager to put their classroom knowledge into action with small businesses that have need of their skills,” said Diggin. “Students have an opportunity to learn what is needed to start and develop a new business or venture.”
“Santander believes that education can be transformational for future generations, as well as the future of our communities and economies,” said Seth Goodall, Executive Director, Corporate Social Responsibility at Santander Bank. “We are proud of our partnership with West Chester University. Together, we enable collaboration between first generation college students and small local businesses during a time when innovation and technical assistance are critical. We look forward to seeing the success of these students and businesses for years to come.”
All of the Santander internships supported business in Chester County. For example, these three first-generation WCU students demonstrate the local and regional impact: Ruth Agbokah (West Chester, PA), Gabriella Velazquez (East Stroudsburg, PA), and Eduardo Franco (Kennett Square, PA).
Senior marketing major Ruth Agbokah completed a Santander marketing internship this fall with the West Chester Business Improvement District (BID). She completed several marketing projects and was included in virtual board and committee meetings.
One of her projects was updating Google business profiles for local businesses. Agbokah contacted the companies’ owners and discussed with them how and what information to update. Talking with entrepreneurs and business owners helped her improve her communication skills, she noted, admitting that she is quite shy.
To assist retailers during the pandemic-related closure of Gay Street, she used skills from her business GIS minor to develop a map of parking locations. She found her marketing coursework essential to creating materials and flyers for Halloween promotions and Small Business Saturday, for which she helped design a shopping bag.
“Small business is the foundation of our town,” said Agbokah. “I grew up in West Chester and want to give back to my community.”
Agbokah also worked with the West Chester Public Library to promote a “storybook tour” that took children and their adults on a walk through West Chester’s uptown in September. Families were encouraged to read a story together by following a map to the 14 retail locations where individual pages from the picture book were displayed in the window. Foot traffic to those businesses increased and feedback from families was positive. West Chester Borough Mayor Dianne Herrin also supported the Story Walk.
“This internship was the first time I was able to apply what I learn in my marketing courses to a real world situation. I’m so grateful to have had this opportunity.”
Agbokah says she walked her hometown and saw it in a different light, thanks to her experience behind the scenes with the BID.
As the undergraduate assistant for the University’s Cottrell Entrepreneurial Leadership Center, Gabriella Velazquez says she already has “strong ties to entrepreneurship.”
This fall, Velazquez conducted census outreach in Coatesville as an intern with entrepreneur Chaya Scott, a community leader in Coatesville and owner of Chaya Scott Consulting, LLC. Her role was to conduct research into the reasons why certain people did or did not complete the U.S. Census; compile and present the results; create marketing plans to encourage completion of the census by specific populations; and execute some of those strategies.
In addition to contacting Coatesville community organizations such as the library, churches, and the local League of Women Voters, she reached out to her WCU peers through student organization leaders, although the virtual environment “made it difficult to directly connect with some people.”
A senior marketing major, Velazquez found her classwork in “marketing research and social media particularly relevant. The social media pages I created on behalf of the Coatesville census initiative gained 200 followers.”
Velazquez volunteers with SCORE, is president of the campus chapter of the American Marketing Association, and is on track to enter WCU’s MBA program after graduation in May. She appreciates the value of “corporations that exhibit a strong commitment to serve the community – like Santander.”
At the beginning of his internship with RestoreChesterCounty.org, the Chester County commissioners’ online resource to assist the community in the pandemic reopening process, Eduardo Franco was putting in 20 to 30 hours a week creating the Spanish-language version of the site’s pages and documents. His supervisor, Ernie Holling, who leads the Covid-19 Business Task Force and is executive director of the Chester County Association of Township Officials, noted, “We had to ensure when we built it bilingually that everything was idiomatically correct for the Chester County population.”
And it had to be done in only eight days.
Holling said Franco delivered, providing accurate translations of CDC and Pennsylvania health guidelines, toolkits for both businesses/organizations and residents, plus toolkits for 21 community sectors including construction, nonprofits, real estate, and transportation. Franco collaborated via Zoom and phone with an intern from Villanova on the initial work and on subsequent updates.
“I enjoyed being able to contribute to local businesses’ success and know that my impact is beneficial,” Franco said.
An accounting/marketing double major due to graduate in May 2021, Franco interned from mid-May to the end of August. Like many students, he had work experience in retail, restaurants, landscaping, and the like, not in an office. That made the shift to a completely virtual environment for both school and the internship “jarring,” he said, and his collaborative experience on the Covid-19 Business Task Force all the more valuable for the connections it offered.
“I really appreciate getting hands-on experience with successful business leaders and learning from their inspiration in a team setting,” he said. “I learned more about business strategies: formulating ideas and implementing them and using caution before executing them.”
In addition to the internships, Santander’s funding also makes it possible for WCU to provide first-generation students scholarships and funding for a fellowship program, a business plan competition, and micro-grants.
An initiative of Santander Bank, Santander Universities supports universities and students around the world to prosper, focusing on education, entrepreneurship, and employment.
About Santander Bank
Santander Bank, N.A. is one of the country’s largest retail and commercial banks with $89.5 billion in assets. With its corporate offices in Boston, the Bank’s 9,100 employees, 575 branches, more than 2,000 ATMs and more than 2.1 million customers are principally located in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Connecticut, Rhode Island, New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania and Delaware. The Bank is a wholly owned subsidiary of Madrid-based Banco Santander, S.A. (NYSE: SAN) – one of the most respected banking groups in the world with more than 147 million customers in the U.S., Europe, and Latin America. It is overseen by Santander Holdings USA, Inc., Banco Santander’s intermediate holding company in the U.S. For more information on Santander Bank, please visit www.santanderbank.com.