The 2015-16 school year is rapidly becoming the year that mental health took the spotlight at Penn State.
In October, the university announced that the Class of 2016 had picked its gift. Instead of putting their lifelong stamp on books or a building or a piece of art or endowing a position, the about-to-graduate Nittany Lions decided to put their money into the well-being of their fellow students. The class opted to support an endowment for Counseling and Psychological Services, “ensur(ing) that future students take part in a better Penn State, because of the generosity and thoughtfulness of our class.”
Since then, the university has seen more money given to work with the graduating class’s gift. The latest donation, announced Tuesday, came from the Penn State Alumni Association.
The alumni association pledged up to $200,000 to match the seniors’ gift. According to the university, it is “the largest commitment in the history of Penn State’s Class Gift program.”
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To date, the class has topped $125,000 in contributions to its CAPS gift, leaving room for another $75,000 in donations that the alumni association would match.
“My hope is that seniors see the potential in making a gift to the endowment to ensure that all $200,000 are matched,” said Ramon Guzman, executive director of the senior campaign.
“The legacy our students have created at Penn State through the impact of the class gift stands for generations,” said alumni association CEO Paul Clifford. “Our volunteer leaders were inspired by this year’s decision by seniors to fund a crucial resource like CAPS. We wanted to ensure a base of funding that would not only provide needed help but also highlight to the graduating class that giving back starts with their alumni family.”
The association’s match is not the first donation inspired by the class gift.
Last month, the university announced that Senior Vice President for Development and Alumni Relations Rod Kirsch and his wife, Michelle, associate dean of student affairs at Schreyer Honors College, were making another $200,000 contribution to create an embedded counselor program for Penn State residence halls.
The class gift, and its match, would team with that donation.
If the full $400,000 anticipated from the class gift and the alumni association’s match is raised, the impact would be $18,000 in annual funding to CAPS.
President Eric Barron said the class gift and the additional donations it has generated show that the university’s students, alumni and supporters are a family that steps up when they see a need.
“This gift shows how strong the Penn State community really is, and I have no doubt it will inspire students to support this cause in even greater numbers,” Guzman said.