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Strong Foundation

Fundraising, scholarship records set

When Jen Francois, G’24, decided to pursue a master’s degree in social work, she took on a second job to avoid taking on more debt.

But thanks to a scholarship she received through the BSU Foundation, Jen can spend less time working and more time studying and preparing for her career.

“Receiving the scholarship has been a huge relief,” said Jen, who recalled how she cried tears of joy when she opened an email notifying her of the award. “I felt such a weight taken off my shoulders.”

Jen is one of 433 BSU students who collectively received $1.3 million worth of scholarships from the foundation, a nonprofit organization structurally separate from BSU but focused on meeting the needs of the university and its students. This is the first year in the foundation’s 38-year history that it disbursed more than $1 million worth of scholarships.

Chief Development Officer Ellen Cuttle Oliver, ’82, G’89, said the milestone reflects donors’ commitment to helping students achieve their dreams.

“This is a new record for us, made possible by the incredible generosity of alumni, friends, faculty, and staff of the university,” she said.

The unprecedented level of student support comes as the foundation received a record $7.3 million in commitments, more than double the $3 million raised in the prior year. In addition to scholarships, the foundation provided more than $500,000 for paid internships and funded athletic, academic and faculty initiatives.

The year’s highlights included a $2 million gift from BSU’s largest benefactors, Patricia, ’67, and Bruce, ’68, Bartlett. That donation funds the Endowed Chair of Free Speech and Expression, which is occupied by philosophy professor Aeon Skoble. Meanwhile, Mass General Brigham provided $1 million to help the School of Social Work prepare diverse students to address the state’s behavioral and mental health crisis.

The scholarship Jen received, which is supported by a donation from the Accelerate the Future Foundation, also aims to diversify the social work field. It eases the financial burden for students of color and those who are bilingual by providing $20,000 over two years to 20 graduate students with financial need. Recipients are committed to working in the mental and behavioral health field, particularly at community health centers and organizations serving youths and families.

Jen, who is interning this school year in the Brockton Public Schools, aims for a career supporting students like herself, who grow up without an immediate family member who graduated from college.

“These donations and these scholarships that they are making available to students really make a huge difference in our lives,” Jen said. “Thank you for believing in us and what we can do.”

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