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Category: Financial Aid & Student Success, Giving News

Title:$200M+ in Philanthropic Support Boosts Access and Success for Talented Students

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Clearing the path for every student Georgetown admits

Donors at all levels have answered the call, from a record 58 percent of undergraduates making a gift during the 2018-19 academic year to philanthropists like loyal Georgetown benefactors Nancy and Arthur (C’54) Calcagnini, who in 2018 provided $7.5 million for undergraduate scholarships—one of the largest gifts for financial aid in Georgetown history—and an additional $2.5 million for the university’s Office of Mission & Ministry. (The Calcagninis also made a 1991 gift to fully endow the ESCAPE retreats for first-year students and a 2011 gift to build the Calcagnini Contemplative Center on a scenic 55-acre mountaintop an hour west from Georgetown’s main campus.)

The late Arthur Calcagnini (1933-2019) began giving to Georgetown not long after graduating and offered whenever he could to open Georgetown’s doors to students from underserved communities. “I created my first scholarship in memory of my mother so it’s deeply meaningful for me to hear that these funds have enabled dozens of hardworking students to get a Georgetown education since then,” he once reflected.

Fifty-five percent of Georgetown undergraduates received some form of financial aid in the 2018-19 academic year, and donor-funded 1789 Scholarships played a key role in offsetting the cost of attendance, which is $76,280 for the 2019-20 school year. Launched in 2009 and named after the year when Georgetown was founded, 1789 Scholarships are awarded to students with the greatest demonstrated need. They both fund the outright grant component of a student’s financial aid package and reduce the loan component by as much as $3,000 per year.

They also increase the chance a student will choose Georgetown: 68 percent of admitted students offered a 1789 Scholarship ultimately enroll at Georgetown, compared with 49 percent of admitted students overall.

Donors recognize that scholarships are the most direct way to set in motion the exponential impact of a Georgetown education. The A. James & Alice B. Clark Foundation recently invested more than $12 million in the McDonough School of Business at Georgetown, of which $3.5 million will be dedicated to undergraduate financial aid. Robert Flanagan, the President of Clark Enterprises, Inc. and a Clark Foundation Board Member, is a 1978 Georgetown McDonough graduate and current Board of Advisors member.

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The Clark Foundation invests in opportunities that develop future leaders, knowing that the late A. James Clark felt strongly about educational opportunity and never forgot that his business success began with a college scholarship.


Support and resources garnering national recognition

Scholarships are critical to getting the very best students to Georgetown, but donors are equally focused on ensuring their success once they are enrolled.

Every 1789 Scholarship includes an invitation to join the Georgetown Scholars Program (GSP), which provides support and resources that foster first-generation and low-income students’ engagement, leadership, and academic and personal growth.

GSP provides more than 650 students annually with year-round programming ranging from advising and mental health services to mentorship opportunities, team-building activities, emergency microgrants, and more. In recent years, the program made national news and emerged as a model for other programs around the country: the six-year graduation rate for students participating in GSP is 96.4 percent.

GSP offers a support structure that complements Georgetown’s trailblazing Community Scholars Program (CSP), which celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2018. CSP gives high-achieving students from under-resourced high schools the opportunity to spend the summer prior to their first year at Georgetown and provides critical ongoing academic support and advising. CSP also offers the Regents STEM Scholars Program, which seeks to address the critical shortage of diverse and first-generation students majoring in STEM fields.

“Some 45 years ago, Georgetown ‘invested’ in me by providing me with a scholarship. That changed my life,” shares Joe Zimmel (C’75). “I am grateful to be able to do the same thing for these talented young people. I invested in the Regents STEM Scholars Program to improve outcomes for GU students from underserved communities.”


Helping students seize opportunities

Donors also recognize the importance of ensuring that all students have access to the full range of learning experiences that make a Georgetown education so powerful.

“We want to create a supportive atmosphere where [students] feel empowered to seize opportunities,” said Carrie Penner, whose 2017 gift to scholarships included $2 million to grow the existing Penner Family Experiences Fund for unpaid internships, travel, community service, and other opportunities.

Providing equitable access to Georgetown’s educational innovations was top of mind for Patricia and Jon (C’64) M. Baker (Parents ’89, ’91, ’94) in making a $20 million gift in 2018 to establish The Baker Trust for Transformational Learning. The Trust’s work will touch all schools on the Main Campus, seeking to expand student experiences beyond the classroom, emphasizing impact and leadership opportunities, internships and fieldwork, and other kinds of personal and professional development.

This integrative approach will “drive change by working across boundaries to enhance the student learning experience, and do so equitably,” says Vice Provost for Education Randall Bass, who will oversee the new initiative and has led Georgetown’s Designing the Future(s) of the University initiative for the past five years.

He notes that experiential learning has historically happened as an additional activity outside a student’s normal coursework—“extra” opportunities that not all students are able to pursue. “The Baker Trust seeks to build experiential opportunities into the educational journey,” Bass says, “so that they’re available to everybody, they’re equitable, they’re universal, and they’re powerful.”

“Our goal is to bring applied learning from the margins to the center of the educational experience,” explains Bass.


A whole-institution approach to equity and inclusion

Philanthropy that supports students to, through, and beyond the Hilltop reinforces the university’s “whole institution” approach to supporting diversity, equity, and inclusion. “Equity and inclusion is not just in one place,” says Georgetown Associate Vice President for Student Equity & Inclusion Adanna J. Johnson, Ph.D. “Every dean, every department chair, every faculty member, every member of our community, every administrator, every staff member, needs to make this a value at the center of their work—not an add-on.”

In her work leading Georgetown’s Office of Student Equity and Inclusion, Johnson seeks to increase resource-sharing, programming, and awareness of available support systems at the university. “Caring for the whole person should be at the center of the ways in which we approach our pedagogy, work with students, and function as an institution,” she says.

This approach enriches the Georgetown experience for all students, says Georgetown Associate Professor Heidi Elmendorf, Ph.D., who serves as senior advisor for equity in education to Georgetown President John J. DeGioia. “The more representative, the more inclusive, that our campus can be, the more we are our world,” she says. “And that’s needed for Georgetown to achieve its educational mission.”

Elmendorf, who also directs the Regents STEM Scholars Program, says Georgetown’s strengths, history, and Jesuit values have led it “to take on equity in its fullest and richest form as an imperative for the university.”

“This is the time for Georgetown to step forward even more boldly,” adds Elmendorf. “To not just do the work on our campus, but to help set the standard for other institutions. This is one of the places in higher education where Georgetown sets the standard.”


Learn more

Georgetown’s commitment to access and affordability is critical to our success and central to who we are. Learn how the Hoya community is helping bring the world’s most talented students to the Hilltop, ensuring they flourish, and forever enriching our community.

Subscribe to THE FEED: Access & Affordability for the latest and most interesting news on access and affordability in higher education, published by Georgetown University’s Office of Advancement.

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