Affording Opportunity: Scholarships Provide Hope and Lasting Change

Over Charter Day weekend, William & Mary's For the Bold Campaign Chair Sue Hanna Gerdelman ’76 unveiled Affording Opportunity as the official brand for the university’s fundraising effort around scholarships. In an effort to raise greater awareness and build a strong case for support for the university’s $350 million scholarships goal, William & Mary has been rolling out the new branding and related messaging across campus and before some of its most loyal donors.

“I stand before Tribe faithful today to ask all of you to invest in scholarships — doing so will provide hope and lasting change for generations of students who deserve to be here but do not have the financial means to attend,” said Gerdelman at the Charter Day dinner on Saturday evening. “Through this newly branded effort, we aim to inspire the entire William & Mary community to help fund scholarships so that extraordinary students can afford the opportunity to access a top-notch education at our 324-year-old university.”

Affording Opportunity will serve as an umbrella for all scholarships fundraising efforts at William & Mary, including the following five scholarships areas that have been identified as priorities in the campaign:

  • Need-based scholarships ($200 million)
  • Merit-based scholarships ($25 million)
  • Global scholarships ($15 million)
  • Athletics scholarships ($50 million)
  • Graduate and professional scholarships ($60 million)

Since the start of the campaign, Gerdelman noted that more than $212 million has been raised for scholarships alone — through gifts of all sizes — helping thousands of high-caliber students pursue their passions without burden and allowing the university to build a vibrant community of diverse perspectives. This year alone, she added, nearly 1,500 students have received a scholarship to attend William & Mary, thanks to the generosity of donors who have supported this top campaign priority. People can learn more about the scholarships goals, read student stories and make gifts at the new Affording Opportunity webpage.

“Scholarships offer so much more than just financial support; scholarships confer dignity and self-confidence, and infuse students with the belief that they belong. Scholarships also signal to students that William & Mary wants them and that they deserve the opportunity to be here,” said Michael Powell ’85, D.P.S ’02, president and CEO of the National Cable & Telecommunications Association and chair of the scholarships subcommittee for the College of William & Mary Foundation. “Those who give to scholarships are planting the seeds of hope and ambition in so many students’ hearts and for that we will be forever grateful."

The university has taken steps to help increase predictability and affordability of tuition by instituting the William & Mary Promise and making scholarships the No. 1 priority in its campaign. Progress has been made on this front, according to Gerdelman. Through the W&M Promise, for example, the university has been able to lower the cost and student loan debt for low- and middle-income Virginia families. William & Mary has the fourth-lowest net price among public universities in Virginia. While the university currently meets 100 percent of need for in-state students through a combination of grants and loans, it only meets 55 percent of the total need for out-of-state students. William & Mary aspires to meet 100 percent of need for all students, which only a handful of elite public universities provide.

“This campaign is about people and raising the necessary resources to ensure that the university can continue to provide a rigorous, enriching and welcoming academic environment for all of its students and faculty,” added Gerdelman. “Scholarships are an investment in our people, our future and our ability to advance the mission of the Alma Mater of the Nation and so it is critical that we continue to rally together and support this important cause.”

More than 11,650 donors have supported scholarships since July 2011, including nearly 3,200 individuals who have given to the Scholarships Impact Fund, which was created to provide immediate-use, need-based scholarships support.