Women of Chapman with President Daniele C. Struppa
Women of Chapman with President Daniele C. Struppa at their summer luncheon June 8.

Women of Chapman Endow Student Hardship Assistance Fund

With more than 80% of Chapman students receiving some sort of financial aid, many are just one personal crisis or unexpected bill away from needing to leave school.

Women of Chapman is forever strengthening Chapman’s safety net for these students with a $1 million endowment to the Student Hardship Assistance Fund. Women of Chapman has been a prolific supporter of Chapman students, programs and campaigns for more than 50 years.

“Since 1971, Women of Chapman has brought together hundreds of extraordinary and philanthropic women with a passion for Chapman University,” said Women of Chapman President Sheri Nazaroff. “We have raised nearly $10 million in gifts designated to various programs, awards and facilities across campus. Our newest pledge, to create the Women of Chapman Student Hardship Assistance Fund, will provide financial support directly to students in need. We look forward to providing life-changing opportunities through this fund to these most vulnerable students.”

Donna Bunce, program and roster co-chair for Women of Chapman, said the organization wanted to support Chapman students “in a direct and personal way.” The board decided to help students through proceeds from Women of Chapman’s signature fundraiser, Christmas at The Ritz.

The hardship fund gives financial assistance to students facing immediate and unexpected hardship, like expenses related to housing, food, transportation, technology, medical bills and getting home during a family crisis. The first two years of the COVID-19 pandemic were particularly difficult for many students and their families, and the fund helped with daily expenses for lost jobs and other challenges.

Women of Chapman previously made a $1 million endowment to support student filmmakers at Dodge College of Film and Media Arts.

“Knowing that a second endowment can provide, in perpetuity, for even more students to achieve their academic goals through the support of this hardship fund made the decision easy,” Bunce said.

The gift adds to the impact of Inspire: The Campaign for Chapman University. The public phase of the campaign was launched in February with the goal of raising $500 million by 2028. So far, more than $330 million has been raised.

The campaign is one of five priorities in Chapman’s 2023-2028 strategic plan.

“We’re so grateful for the tremendous generosity of Women of Chapman,” said campaign co-chair Lisa Argyros. “They have done so much for the Chapman community for decades, and this gift will provide much-needed support for Chapman students most in need.”

“Thanks to the generosity of Chapman family and friends, every year we are able to use the Student Hardship Assistance Fund to support dozens of students facing unexpected financial challenges,” said Jerry Price, dean of students and vice president for student affairs.

“This wonderful gift from the Women of Chapman will ensure that we will always be able to serve those students who need us most,” he said.

The fund supports 20 to 30 students annually with grants ranging from a few hundred dollars to a few thousand.

Women of Chapman started in 1971 to raise funds for scholarships for the World Campus Afloat program. Mildred Mead – a friend of Jack and Valerie Scudder, who had brought the oceangoing program to Chapman – spearheaded the design of a scarf that was sold to fund scholarships for the program. In the process, Mead gathered a group of women interested in fashion. First known as “The Fashionables,”  they organized more programs and events, including what would become the annual Christmas at the Ritz. Christmas at the Ritz alone has raised almost $300,000 annually to benefit students.

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