The University of Memphis plans to positively impact students’ lives by establishing new, need- based endowed scholarships and assisting students within the university through the Bruns scholarship challenge match.
University of Memphis Board of Visitors member Mike Bruns and his wife Marian presented the challenge to support U of M students with financial needs who are from the Memphis area. Donors will match funds to help more students receive financial aid and overcome financial constraints.
“We know that financial constraints are one of the major challenges that prevent students from staying in school or proceeding towards graduation that they want, and we know there are a lot of people in the community — our donors, friends, alumni who want to help students,” said Joanna Curtis, the UofM’s chief advancement officer. “We just wanted to put a spotlight on the fact that this is the way that our alumni and friends of the University can make an impact, and that is by providing direct scholarships to students who need financial aid.”
In 2020, about 12,000 students received scholarships from the University of Memphis Foundation. They plan to increase the number of students who receive private scholarships from the University each year.
“I think the scholarship challenge is important because it will give hope to those who think higher education isn’t a possibility due to financial hardships,” said Erica Ross, a special project coordinator for Literacy Mid-South. “The scholarship will be a great advantage to help more economically disadvantaged students recognize and achieve their dreams, as well as develop their higher selves.”
The Bruns scholarship challenge has created 18 endowed scholarships to meet the needs of students who find tuition prices out of their reach. The scholarships can help fill that financial gap to pay for college.
“I think with more students receiving financial aid, primarily African American students, this would help decrease the wealth gap in America — being that mostly African American students are affected with student loan debt disproportionately. This affects their financial statuses, so access to more money for school will not only help people lessen the financial burden but also increase the wealth in communities,” said financial advisor Justin Tate of Northwestern Mutual.
The University of Memphis Foundation plans to assist 2,000 students in receiving scholarships by 2025.
“I think it will create a lot of opportunities for students and future students who don’t have the money,” said alumnus Andre Holmes.