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Penn State Smeal to raise funds for student emergency fund this GivingTuesday

November 16, 2021

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The Penn State Smeal College of Business will raise funds to support students facing an unexpected crisis during this year’s GivingTuesday campaign.

Those crises may include a parent losing a job, medical expenses, an unexpected additional semester of college, time away from the University to participate in co-ops or other professional opportunities or myriad other events that can derail even the best laid plans to finance a college education.

GivingTuesday began in 2012 as a way to inspire people to consider acts of kindness and generosity at the start of the traditional holiday shopping season. Last year, Smeal received more than 100 unique gifts and raised more than $13,000 to support programs and scholarships offered through the college’s Office of Diversity Enhancement Programs.

Across the University, Penn Staters made more than 10,400 gifts and raised close to $1 million for more than 125 campaigns in 2020.

“Penn Staters are outstanding in their generosity. We truly are one community working together to create a better world,” said Jenny Daigle Benoit, Penn State’s executive director for annual giving.

This year, GivingTuesday will take place on Nov. 30. Penn State’s efforts will feature more than 140 unique campaigns, including Smeal’s campaign to support the newly created Smeal Student Emergency Fund. Early fundraising efforts are already underway.

Felisa Higgins, associate dean for undergraduate education, said she wants to ensure all Smeal students have the resources they need to be successful.

“No student should have to go hungry, not have a safe place to sleep at night or access to basic medical care,” she said. “During the pandemic, we also heard stories about students taking classes in parking lots so they had access to free Wi-Fi or taking exams on their cell phone because they didn’t have access to a laptop. The University was able to help some students, but the reality is that not everyone had equal access to resources. That’s where philanthropy can make a difference.”

Higgins said she hopes that this year’s GivingTuesday campaign will close that gap. To help bolster Smeal’s fundraising efforts, several alumni have stepped forward to provide matching gift opportunities or to create rewards that will be unlocked when donor challenges are met.

  • John Barnes ‘95 FIN, a Smeal External Accounting Advisory Board Member, has sponsored a donor-count challenge for this campaign. When the campaign reaches 10, 25, 50, 75, and 100 donors, bonus funds will be unlocked for a grand total of $5,000 in additional support for our students.
  • The first 13 gifts of $100 or more will receive an additional $100 match thanks to Chris Stevenson ‘94 FIN and Chris Kernan ’80 ACCTG.
  • Alumni who have not made a gift to the University in the past who give $25 or more will receive an additional $25 thanks to a generous gift from the Peter Weiler Family Endowment in Advancement and Philanthropy.
  • The University will provide a 1:1 match up to $100 for a donation made by graduates of the last decade (GOLDs), for any gift of $5 or more.

“Although the amounts awarded to individual students from emergency funds are rarely large in size, their impact can be immeasurable,” said Michelle Houser, senior director of development and alumni relations. “Often, just a few hundred dollars are all that it takes for a student to stay in school and complete their degree.” 

To learn more and to make a gift as part of this year’s GivingTuesday campaign, please visit Smeal’s GivingTuesday website.

Media Contact

Andy Elder
Public Relations Specialist