Individual donors and partner organizations are propelling WCU students to greater success. Discover the latest happenings from across our Foundation’s initiatives.
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.
WCU Hoists Final Steam Beam on SECC
At the threshold of its 150th anniversary year, West Chester University has hoisted the last steel beam needed to “top off” the framing of The Sciences & Engineering Center and The Commons, the newest and largest building in the University’s 149-year history currently under construction. President Fiorentino recently visited the campus construction site, located directly across from WCU’s Student Recreation Center along 275 North Campus Drive in West Chester, to sign the 12″ high x 39′ long beam prior to its lift and lofty placement. The project’s lead benefactors joined him to mark the historic moment and sign the beam: Founder, President, and CEO of ProMetrics Marc Duey, who gifted $1 million on behalf of the Duey family; Student Services, Incorporated (SSI) Chair of the Board of Directors Bernie Carrozza ‘66, representing SSI and its gift of $1 million; and West Chester University Alumni Association (WCUAA) President Bill Scottoline ‘74, representing WCUAA and its gift of $150,000.
Known traditionally as a formal “topping off” ceremony, the longstanding construction custom commemorates the completion of a building’s framing phase. Painted “West Chester University gold” and bearing the University’s 150th anniversary logo, the beam is the outer-most and highest beam in the NW corner of the facility.
The building’s construction is especially timely, as STEM students are needed now more than ever to help advance and heal the world in which we live. “Digital convergence, artificial intelligence, and advanced engineering design will make our students engage like never before and open a gateway to integrating across disciplines to present eloquent solutions to the vexing challenges of today, like COVID-19, and of tomorrow,” said Marc Duey, founder of numerous health care companies, including West Chester Biomedical AI, LLC; ProMetrics, Inc.; Atrin Pharmaceuticals; Felicitex Therapeutics, Inc.; and TarMeta Biosciences.
Upon completion in the spring of 2021, the new $130-million facility will be home to the University’s rapidly growing health science curricula, physics, and the new biomedical engineering program, as well as expansive academic and support spaces.
“For the SSI family the new facility epitomizes and captures the essence of our mission – putting students first,” said Student Services Incorporated Board President Bernard J. Carrozza ’66. “SSI would like to commend all of the partners who had the vision to provide and the future to create. It is not just about stone and steel, it is about students and stability, students and opportunity, students and their specialness…”
President Fiorentino reinforced the University’s unyielding commitment to students despite the enormity of a global interruption. “In a year that has been nothing short of a roller coaster for our University and our world, today is both a highlight and a triumph,” remarked President Fiorentino. “At West Chester University, nothing — not even a pandemic — will ever stand in the way of our mission of advancing student success. The Sciences & Engineering Center and the Commons will be an educational game-changer for students in the sciences, as well as for the entire campus community. Thank you to everyone who played a part in making this dream a reality.
Recognizing that meaningful connections happen in a variety of settings, the facility will also feature a Commons, a welcoming and stimulating environment for students to gather, eat, and work. The 800-seat residential dining facility will encompass more than 16,000 square feet of the building’s entire second floor. An intentional and progressive design will encourage students to use the facility as a third space and an exciting location to meet, get a healthy meal between classes, and engage in other formative, non-academic activities.
In addition to serving students’ academic and co-curricular needs, the building will also include a 450-car parking garage.
SECC Project Benefactors
The three-story facility is being built with the initial support of two critical leadership gifts. Founder, President, and CEO of ProMetrics Marc Duey, also an adjunct professor at the University teaching in the Marketing Department and the Pharmaceutical Product Development Program, in association with the Duey family, made a generous gift of $1 million toward the important project. ProMetrics serves the decision support needs of specialty biopharma executives with a focus on patient-level data impacting prescription efficiency. Under the direction of Mr. Duey, ProMetrics has served over 150 clients, completed more than 10,000 projects, and played a role in the launch of dozens of specialty brands that have reached sales in excess of one-billion dollars per year.
Student Services, Incorporated (SSI), also made a generous gift of $1 million to the project, thanks to Student Services, Incorporated Chair of the Board of Directors Bernie Carrozza. Student Services, Incorporated is a not-for-profit organization designed to serve the students of West Chester University. SSI is committed to WCU students and stands ready to ensure that they have whatever they need to meet their academic goals. The objective of the corporation is to initiate, regulate, and operate the financial matters of the University’s co-curricular student activities.
The West Chester University Alumni Association also contributed significantly to the building project with a generous donation of $150,000.
“At a time when West Chester University enrolls more than 4,000 STEM majors, Marc and Maureen Duey; Student Services, Incorporated; and the West Chester University Alumni Association are investing in the next generation of WCU graduates who will enhance our region and our world as innovative engineers, nurses, nutritionists, physicists, public health professionals, and scientists,” said West Chester University President Christopher Fiorentino at the facility’s groundbreaking ceremony on April 27, 2019. “All of us are grateful to these generous benefactors who are creating new possibilities and great opportunities for an increasing number of WCU students who are dedicated to preparing themselves for high-performance careers that will make a considerable difference to many.”
Lenovo’s Gift of Laptops Benefits Promise Program Students
As the pandemic shuttered businesses and higher education in March, West Chester University students who lacked technology did not lack support. While staff in WCU Information Services and Technologies (IS&T) rallied resources – and their own determination – to ensure students could continue their courses remotely, the West Chester University Foundation was addressing needs from behind the scenes.
One of the early success stories involves nearly $20,000 in laptops donated by Lenovo through initial dialogue with Teresa Hudson, director of IS&T’s Educational Technologies & User Services. The IS&T Help Desk team was able to quickly configure and get these laptops to WCU students in need so that they could continue their coursework remotely. WCU proudly recognizes Lenovo for donating 26 laptops to students in the University’s Promise Program, which supports unaccompanied homeless and foster youth.
As WCU’s Single Point of Contact for unaccompanied foster and homeless youth, Tori Nuccio, interim associate director of Financial Aid, said that within a week of announcing the move to alternate modes of instruction, “We distributed some of these laptops to students who did not have their own computers. The Promise Program is extremely grateful to Lenovo and the team in IS&T who was able to set these laptops up for student use before our transition to remote work.”
The donation was coordinated through the WCU Foundation. Helen Hammerschmidt, director of Corporate and Foundation Relations for the foundation, cited the huge impact this collaboration offers the University’s most vulnerable students and said the donation came at a time “when so many of our students are in need of critical technology to stay on track with their education. Shining a light on this donation elevates not just Lenovo’s commitment to social responsibility, but also the plight of students across the country who lack the basic necessities we all take for granted.”
David Hamilton, Lenovo’s public relations lead, North America, noted that Lenovo’s inspiration to support the WCU Promise Program arose from the company’s commitment “to increasing access to opportunity by providing smarter technology to all. The students served through the Promise Program have faced significant adversity. We hope the technology provided will help them further their educational goals.”
Lenovo is a Fortune Global 500 company with 57,000 employees and operating in 180 markets around the world. Focused on a bold vision to deliver smarter technology for all, we are developing world-changing technologies that create a more inclusive, trustworthy and sustainable digital society. By designing, engineering and building the world’s most complete portfolio of smart devices and infrastructure, they are also leading an intelligent transformation to create better experiences and opportunities for millions of customers around the world.
Lenovo Foundation and Community Relations invests in advancing STEM Education programs, increasing access to opportunity for diverse populations, and empowering employees to improve global communities.
For an additional look at how businesses have helped our students adapt during the pandemic, as well as ways the University is helping the community, visit WCU’s Business and Community Partners web page.