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Regional nursing outreach, student support among projects enabled by 1889 Grants

paint night


By Bill Studenc

Western Carolina University’s 1889 Impact Grant Program recently wrapped up its second year of providing donor-assisted financial support to campus projects, with initiatives ranging from nursing outreach clinics to efforts to help historically disadvantaged students succeed in the classroom and beyond.

The program was created in 2021 by the Division of Advancement to provide a consistent source of funding for colleges and other units at WCU in support of initiatives that enhance the engagement of alumni and community stakeholders to the philanthropic activities of the university. Eleven projects were selected to receive a total of $40,000 in 2022, the program’s first year of providing grants.

“More than $200,000 in grants were requested through 16 campuswide grant applications this year, and we were able to allocate $47,500 overall for nine awards,” said Jamie T. Raynor, vice chancellor for advancement. “That represents an increase in the total amount of inaugural grant funding we were able to award last year.”

public speaking training


Funding for the program comes from contributions by members of the 1889 Club, which recognizes donors for gifts made on an annual basis to the Fund for WCU. The club, among four giving societies established to celebrate the impact of philanthropy on the institution, is named in honor of the year of WCU’s founding.

The 1889 Club encompasses those who make annual gifts in amounts ranging from $18.89 for current students and $188.90 for alumni who have graduated within the last decade to $1,889 for alumni who graduated more than 10 years ago.        

Members of the WCU Foundation Board of Directors executive committee review applications from across the university and select awardees in the fall of each year.

Projects supported by the program this year and amounts awarded are:

  • A trip to Buenos Aires, Argentina, in March to provide an international learning experience for conditionally admitted students who successfully completed the Academic Success Program; $15,000.
  • A series of outreach events involving School of Nursing students, faculty and alumni providing holistic nursing assessment and care coordination, navigation and education at sites in Jackson and Buncombe counties; $10,000.
  • Optional recommended on-line training modules made available for new students by the Division of Student Affairs on topics including mental health awareness, email safety and password security, diversity, alcohol and other drugs, active shooter responses and sexual violence prevention; $6,000.
  • A series of events supporting a new First Gen Club at WCU, an organization of students who are the first in their families to attend college; $5,000.
  • A social hour and dinner etiquette training event to provide sophomore residential students an opportunity to learn appropriate etiquette for networking socials and dinners to prepare them for interviews, internships and future employment; $4,000.
  • Leadership and public speaking training for members of the Chancellor’s Ambassadors, an organization of student volunteers who assist the chancellor at selected university events; $3,000.
  • Additions to Hunter Library’s recently initiated board game collection, which is designed to help students develop problem-solving and teamwork skills; $1,500.
  • A women’s basketball reunion event introducing current student-athletes and managers to former players in an effort to reconnect the alumnae to the program; $1,500.
  • Men’s basketball coach professional development through attendance at the 2023 NCAA Men’s Basketball Final Four Coaches Convention, where head coach Justin Gray served as a presenter at the Black Coaches Association Final Four Summit; $1,500.

women's bball reunion


In addition to the 1889 Impact Grants Program, the Fund for WCU provides first-year access scholarships to new incoming freshmen and supports ongoing donor stewardship efforts. A total of 82 students  received approximately $40,000 in scholarship support during the 2022-2023 academic year.

Applications for 1889 Club Impact Grants open annually in August and are reviewed by the WCU Foundation Board at its October meeting. Recipients will be notified of their awards in November, and funds will be transferred to the selected departments by Jan. 15 of the next year.

more information on the 1889 Club including how to join

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