Western Carolina University blew past its goal of raising $250,000 for general scholarship support on Giving Tuesday as 443 donors contributed a total of $443,517 to the university on the national day of philanthropy Nov. 30.
WCU decided to focus its 2021 Giving Tuesday initiative on seeking additional dollars for scholarship assistance for students who fall through the cracks between merit-based awards for top scholars and income-based aid for those facing the greatest financial hardships.
“It is so heartening to see this tremendous outpouring of generosity from our loyal alumni, friends and donors. This incredible level of financial support will help our students graduate in a more timely fashion and with as little debt as possible,” said WCU Chancellor Kelli R. Brown.
“The past couple of years have been a challenge for many of our students and their families, and philanthropic support is more important now than ever before. These gifts will have an immediate impact on our students in their pursuit of higher education.”
The final tally, which represents a whopping 177% of WCU’s goal for Giving Tuesday, marks the largest amount of money raised by the university on Giving Tuesday, said Jamie Raynor, vice chancellor for advancement.
Nearly $280,000 of the contributions to WCU from the 2021 edition of Giving Tuesday will be put to immediate use through the university’s general scholarship fund. Some donors directed their gifts to the Catamount Club’s scholarship fund for student-athletes; the 1889 Club and its annual support of the Fund for WCU, which provides first-year access scholarships, impact grants and ongoing stewardship efforts; the Friends of the Arts; endowed scholarships; and other annual scholarships.
A six-figure bequest from the estate of Sarah E. Sharpton, a New Mexico teacher who wanted to recognize her late mother’s love for WCU, helped push the university’s Giving Tuesday past its original goal. Sharpton’s mother, Doris Monteith Sharpton, was a Jackson County native who earned her bachelor’s degree from WCU in 1956 before embarking upon a 25-year teaching career in North Carolina and Florida.