GSP Looks Forward to its Next Decade

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Members of the Class of 2016 celebrate their graduation reception last May. Photo credit: Theresa Keil, Optimum Audio

The Georgetown Scholarship Program looks forward to its next decade

The 2016-17 school year is off to a terrific start for the Georgetown Scholarship Program (GSP): as 178 new students begin their careers on the Hilltop, a remarkable gift from an anonymous donor strengthens the endowment supporting the program.

Funding for GSP comes primarily through philanthropic support. The backbone of this support is the Class of 1964 Endowed Fund, which was created by the classmates of Charles A. Deacon (C’64, MA’69), dean of undergraduate admissions, to celebrate their 50th reunion, and it is dedicated solely to building the GSP endowment. The program also receives gifts from many donors outside of the class of ’64.

Thanks to this recent gift of $3 million, this fund has raised a total of $13,414,190.95 as of September 1, 2016. Reaching its goal of $25 million would fully endow the fund, ensuring GSP’s place at the heart of Georgetown.

“The continued progress of this fund, and the commitment it shows to student support, is nothing short of remarkable,” said Dean Deacon. “We are very grateful to the foundation which made this gift, as well as to everyone who supports GSP and scholarship at Georgetown. Gifts like these are at the center of our need-blind and meet-full-need admission policies. They make a Georgetown education possible for many talented students.”

Those who have made significant philanthropic commitments to the Georgetown Scholarship Program include Jimmy (B’80) and Elizabeth (N’80) Eisenstein (Parents '09, '12, '16), who made a gift of $1 million in 2012, as well as Nancy and Geoffrey (C’65) Stack, and Herbert Wigwe (Parent’18), each of whom made gifts of $500,000 in 2015.  

To date, 210 individuals and foundations have made generous gifts toward endowing GSP and fortifying its position as a dynamic part of campus life, and momentum grows by the month.

Dedicated Volunteers

Key to GSP’s success is its advisory board, composed of alumni, parents, and staff, and headed by Chair Michelle Schara Mauboussin  (B’86, Parent’17, ’19), who took the helm in July. The volunteer board members work tirelessly to steward the program, increase philanthropic support, and grow GSP in innovative ways, supporting its key place in the overall Georgetown community. Its dynamic fundraising efforts are led by Lisa Gentil (I’74, Parent ’09, ’12) and Paul Goodrich (I’65, Parent ’92, ’95), co-chairs of the fundraising committee, which connects with past donors and engages new donors.

Karen Smith Beil (C’87) Georgetown’s director of advancement for Chicago who works closely with the advisory board, believes it makes a huge impact on the program’s fundraising success. "These volunteers embrace the opportunity to fully fund the program’s endowment. They have reached back to engage early donors and welcomed new donors. It has been a labor of love all the way, and it is exciting and gratifying to see the great progress."

Innovative Programs

Through the work of the advisory board and other philanthropic outreach, GSP raises money to provide assistance for students in common and uncommon situations. Zachary Kay (F’16) is a recent graduate who was named a Schwarzman Scholar, earning a prestigious graduate fellowship to fund his master’s degree in economics and business at Tsinghua University in Beijing, China. Kay calls GSP a “game-changer” for his time on campus.

Zach believes that supporting the Georgetown Scholarship Program is a particularly important way to impact the lives of students on financial aid. “I received wonderful scholarship support, for which I am truly grateful,” he said. “GSP builds on that and takes it a step further. A scholarship is an investment in a Georgetown student’s future, and GSP then goes that extra mile.”

For example, “Suit Up In Style” is an annual event for female GSP student seniors, which recognizes and celebrates their achievements by providing an opportunity to acquire career clothing as they begin their job searches. It started very informally eight years ago, when a handful of volunteers took some seniors suit shopping at the Loft store in Dupont Circle. Loft executives learned of the event and decided to host it annually, offering gift cards and store discounts to each student shopper. At last year’s event, 100 senior women were “suited up in style”, and a similar event is held for male GSP students as well.

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Students “suit up” at the annual event. Photo credit: Jason Low (C’17)

GSP provides many other services and programs to meet the needs of its students, ranging from bedding packs for new students arriving on campus to access to a necessity fund for medical expenses and flights home. There are also mentoring programs with older students, Georgetown staff, faculty, and program alumni. GSP even hosts a mandatory budget boot camp for freshmen, and Financial Aid Peer Counselors train GSP students to successfully navigate financial aid, teaching them how to live within their means and find the best deals on flights, meals, and textbooks.

Programming and support is provided year-round, even during winter break and summer months. Guest speakers, networking events, and career advising are among the many formal programs offered, but there are other, more personal activities, too: students can share pizza weekly in the GSP office or receive one-on-one counseling.

At the Heart of Campus

Missy Foy (C’03), who has directed the program since its inception, champions the innumerable contributions GSP students make to campus life. “Our students make Georgetown a better place, a more relevant place, because they come with so many diverse experiences,” Foy said. “They literally come from all over the country: rural, urban, suburban. … each brings a unique and diverse set of life experiences to our campus community, and then hopefully into their classrooms and dorm rooms.”

She feels pride of place in the central location of the GSP office. “We’re extremely grateful to be right in Healy Hall, to feel like we’re right here at the center of the university,” Foy explained. “I think the fact that we’re here in Healy is recognition that the university prioritizes us as a program and values our students and their contributions.”

Continuing GSP’s Success

Foy estimates that about half of the program’s budget comes directly from the university and the rest from annual fundraising. The average scholarship recipient receives $45,000 toward the annual cost of attendance, which runs to about $62,000. The remainder is covered by some combination of other grants and scholarships, family contributions, loans, and work-study. The university tries to keep participants’ debt as low as possible—about $5,500 by the time they graduate.

The most reliable way to guarantee the continued success of the GSP program and its students is to fully endow the program.

Dean Deacon emphasized the significance of this key priority. “Endowing the Georgetown Scholarship Program assures its permanence and stresses Georgetown’s commitment to its meet-full-need financial aid policy,” he said. “It underscores and endorses Georgetown’s continuing commitment to ensure that the most talented students, regardless of their backgrounds, can come to the Hilltop, and that they will be provided with a dedicated community of support to allow them to thrive and excel at Georgetown.”

As staff and donors continue to spearhead the effort to endow the Georgetown Scholarship Program, Foy stresses her appreciation for the generosity and philanthropy of past alumni, parents, and friends. She attributes their influence and support to the overall success of so many initiatives and programs embraced by the GSP and its participants.

"These donors are good Samaritans, many of them caring about the well-being of students they’ve never even met," Foy said. "Their generosity has already been transformative for hundreds of students by alleviating some of the enormous financial burdens they carry."