Virginia Tech’s incoming class for fall 2017 will include at least 90 Beyond Boundaries Scholars — the first students to benefit from a matching gift program launched in November by university President Tim Sands.
Dozens of donors have created scholarships through the program, in which Virginia Tech is matching up to 165 qualifying gifts made through at least the end of 2017, doubling their impact. Additional gifts made through June 30, which is the end of the university’s fiscal year, can benefit incoming students this fall, so the number to benefit this year is likely to grow beyond 90.
The Beyond Boundaries Scholars program supports several of the university’s major strategic aims. These include enrolling far more students from underserved communities and reducing the number of high-achieving students from all communities who chose competing schools based on financial aid.
“President Sands put out a call to back this program, and donors are responding,” said Vice President for Advancement Charlie Phlegar, who oversees Virginia Tech’s fundraising, university relations, and alumni relations. “Beyond Boundaries Scholars will bring essential perspectives and tremendous potential to our campus. We are grateful to all who have given. We are inspired by their example. We will continue to work to maximize the impact of this initiative.”
Through the program, the university provides a dollar-for-dollar match to double the impact of qualifying gifts. To qualify, gifts must be for current-use, not endowed. Gifts of $6,000, $5,000, or $3,000 for scholarships targeting students from underserved populations are eligible. Gifts of $13,000, $7,000, or $4,000 to scholarships targeting high-achieving students from all communities are eligible.
The levels were selected in consultation with the Office of Enrollment and Degree Management and address financing gaps that students and their families may face even if they do qualify for some federal aid. The name of the matching-gift program comes from the Beyond Boundaries long-range planning initiative underway at Virginia Tech.
Multiple recipients have indicated that being a Beyond Boundaries Scholar cemented their decision to enroll.
“I wasn’t sure if I would be able to attend Virginia Tech without a scholarship, so this was a deciding factor,” said Celeste Rogers, of Centreville, Virginia, who plans to major in meteorology and, possibly, statistics. “Tech was my top school, so it would have been a heart-wrenching decision if I wasn’t able to attend. I really liked the sense of community I got when I went to orientation in October. I felt instantly that I could see myself having a place there.”
“My educational pursuits would not be possible without generous support from scholarships like these, and I will be forever grateful for the privilege of receiving it,” said Talisha Mack of Chesapeake, Virginia, who plans to major in theatre.
“The scholarship I’m getting makes so much difference,” said Owen Callahan, of Portland, Maine, who plans to double major in math and history. “A couple weeks ago I had narrowed my choice down to two universities. Virginia Tech was above the other, but I thought I could not afford it. I was sad because when I had visited, I just felt so at home.”
Jeff Rudd, of Fitchburg, Wisconsin, donated to create scholarships within the College of Natural Resources and Environment and the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences.
“The overarching aims of this program are good ideas,” said Rudd, a member of the Class of 1983 who earned Virginia Tech degrees in philosophy and biological sciences. “The matching is a compelling factor as well, which hopefully draws even more attention to it in the minds of people that have the resources to participate.”
Bill Hall, of Bonita Springs, Florida, said the university match appealed to him and his wife, Lavinia.
“We’ve endowed scholarships in engineering and this was another way of accomplishing something similar but with Tech providing matching funds,” said Hall, a member of the Class of 1963 who earned his bachelor’s and master’s in chemical engineering. “It increased the leverage of our money toward our goal of bringing qualified students to Tech who couldn’t otherwise afford to come.”
Virginia Tech Vice President for Strategic Affairs and Vice Provost for Inclusion and Diversity Menah Pratt-Clarke said the Beyond Boundaries Scholars program extends the university’s broad efforts to recruit students from underserved communities. Those efforts also include launching the InclusiveVT Excellence Scholarship Fund and the InclusiveVT Project 2022 initiative, in which alumni reach out to prospective students to encourage them to apply to Virginia Tech.
“When alumni and friends support programs like these, it sends a powerful message to those who are considering Virginia Tech,” Pratt-Clarke said, “and it creates life-changing opportunities for those who enroll.”
More information about the Beyond Boundaries Scholars program, including how to make a gift that will be matched, is available online.