By MEGAN WILLIAMS
Daily News-Record 8/18/20
When the COVID- 19 pandemic hit in early March, a lot of colleges and universities had to discuss whether to proceed with annual giving campaigns, on which they rely, or to pause given the uncertainty of the current climate.
For Eastern Mennonite University, the decision was made to continue with campaigning, which included EMU’s LovEMU Day in April, which garnered record- breaking donations.
Since then, campaigning has continued and because of it, EMU has been able to set up new scholarships, as well as tuition assistance programs to help students during this trying financial time, said Kirk Shisler, vice president for advancement.
A recent focus of this giving has also been focused on giving students of color more opportunities to pursue their college dreams that had not otherwise been available, Shisler said.
In total, Eastern Mennonite University donors and alumni contributed over $4.9 million during the 2019-20 fiscal year, and set a new record for annual unrestricted support.
Donors gave generously to two funds specific to COVID-19 relief: Nearly $1.8 million for the University Fund for Resilience and approximately $88,000 for the Student Tuition Relief Fund.
EMU’s LovEMU Day shattered records, helping to raise $214,683 from 732 gifts.
Nine new endowed scholarships totaling over $700,000 have been established, as well as two direct grant scholarship funds of at least $20,000 each, to support student access to an EMU education.
EMU’s Center for Justice and Peacebuilding continues to draw significant donations, including two matching grants totaling $35,000, to celebrate its 25th anniversary.
“Our alumni have again shown us through their support that they value how EMU has prepared them to meet and respond to the pressing challenges of this time, and they want to help EMU continue to provide that educational experience to others,” Shisler said.
He added that the university is moving full-steam ahead with fundraising goals for the coming school year. Many donors have expressed interest in creating opportunities specifically for students of color. That will be a focus of the university moving forward.
“The issue of racial justice has always been a core concern and value for EMU and we and donors want to do more to enhance racial justice in the world,” Shisler said.