May 2012
Howard University Capstone April 2012  

Heeding the Call to Pay It Forward
New campaign to raise student funds underscores the need for employees to give back

By Aleia Woods, intern, Office of University Communications

Howard University recently launched a $25 million scholarship campaign designed to reduce the disparity in unmet financial need for students in good academic standing. President Sidney A. Ribeau, Ph.D., announced the Bridging the Gap Student Aid Campaign during this year’s Charter Day Dinner in March. The primary goal of the campaign is student retention.

“By providing scholarships to students with proven strong academic potential and to those in good academic standing, the University seeks to ensure that those who have demonstrated the ability to thrive at Howard continue to have the means to do so,” says Nesta H. Bernard, vice president of the Division of Development and Alumni Relations (DAR). “The campaign will directly address gaps within financial aid to ensure continuous success, especially for high-achieving students as well as for students who demonstrate academic potential.”

Bernard says that the campaign has already provided $250,000 in matching funds to support the Howard University Student Association (HUSA) Grant Program.

This new campaign perpetuates DAR’s goal of raising funds for merit- and need-based student aid, including graduate fellowships, and funds for specific schools and colleges. It also underscores the commitment from members of the Howard community to support students’ academic success. DAR regularly references Howard’s mission of veritas et utilitas, or truth and service, when encouraging the community to give back, and more and more employees are heeding the call.

“Employee engagement and philanthropic support are extremely important,” says Bernard. “Working at Howard gives faculty and staff an intimate snapshot of where the critical needs are. Many reach deeply into their pockets to help address those needs, as well as to encourage others to give.”

Students (l-r) Gavette Richards, Matia Johnson and Phillip Jones attended the kick-off to the new student aid campaign, which President Ribeau announced at this year's Charter Day Dinner. All three students have benefited from academic scholarships and exemplify the need for more philanthropic support to the University. (Ceasar)

Jeremy C. Randall, interim director of advancement services, agrees. “As an alumnus and employee of Howard, I have a great love for this institution,” he says. “I know firsthand the transformative power of the Howard experience. I feel that giving back to Howard is part of my duty to, in some small way, help propel the University to even greater heights.”

Randall says he makes contributions through the Family Fund, which is Howard's payroll deduction program for faculty and staff. Through this fund, employees are able to donate to a number of causes.

“Many of our alumni employees support the schools and colleges they graduated from, as well as the programs they currently work in,” says Bernard. “This 'close-up' view allows employees to see how their funds are impacting students and programs. Employee giving also fosters a sense of ownership and pride.”
"Employee giving also fosters a sense of ownership and pride."

Bernard adds that if an employee’s spouse works at a company that provides matching gifts to the University, his or her gift can be doubled.

Aside from providing funds to students, employee contributions are a crucial aspect of maintaining the University’s sustainability.

“Giving back ensures that the traditions of excellence in education and service at Howard can continue to shape the next generation and beyond,” says Gina West, director of corporate and foundation relations. “If [as an employee alum] you appreciate Howard for what it has contributed to scholarly thought or who it has made you today and you want the institution to continue to make a positive impact on the lives of future graduates, then giving back is an essential rite of passage.”

Bernard explains that contributions allow the University to attract and retain talented students and faculty from the region and the country. 

“Critical research and many important academic centers at Howard are operated primarily through philanthropic support and grant revenue. Cutting-edge projects place Howard at the forefront of so many important initiatives,” she says.

For Randall and other employees, contributing to the University is even more necessary today than it has been in the past. “As federal support of higher education becomes more and more uncertain, it is crucial that the alumni and friends of the University step forward to ensure that future generations enjoy a ‘Mecca’ even more vibrant and thriving than in the past,” he says.

For additional information on the Family Fund and to contribute online or through payroll deduction, please visit

To donate online to the Bridging the Gap Student Aid Campaign, visit For further information on overall giving at Howard, call 202-238-2348.
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