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A record-breaking year for development at Eastern Kentucky University

RICHMOND, Ky. — Eastern Kentucky University has met the many difficult challenges of the past 18 months with great effort, determination, and dedication in order to ensure the best possible EKU experience for our students. EKU’s Office of Development and Alumni Engagement played a vital role in ensuring scholarships were available to those in need.

The University had a record-breaking year with $9,968,280 in total commitments this fiscal year. While the total number of pledges was slightly lower, the average pledge amount increased, and cash gifts increased by a significant amount totaling more than $6.7 million.

“Fundraising during a pandemic can be challenging, but this year showed how resilient and resourceful the University community can be when every dollar pledged to EKU goes toward student success,” said Betina Gardner, vice president for university development and alumni engagement and executive director of the EKU Foundation. “This fundraising cycle has been a great success thanks to the tireless efforts of staff, volunteers, alumni, and community partners. Philanthropy during a pandemic and an economic downturn is critical to ensure the most vulnerable students can continue their education during difficult financial circumstances.”

A large portion of that cash increase was because the University was fortunate to have an alumna in Karen Ann Hawkins who left the largest gift in the University’s history. Karen’s $2.5 million bequests not only will provide scholarships for students from all over Kentucky but provided the opportunity to celebrate her and her family in her hometown of Lawrenceburg. The University is so incredibly grateful for her gift and the legacy she leaves as an Eastern Kentucky University alumna.

Another increase in cash donations this year was due to the success of the second Giving Day on April 14, 2021, which also broke records. The 1,000-donor goal for the day was greatly surpassed and nearly doubled with 1,997 gifts totaling more than $325,000. That included more than $110,000 in challenge gifts and 499 first-time donors.

The total number of scholarships awarded increased from 1,797 to 1,995 with a total distribution of $1,341,889. Each scholarship provided represents a student who is now one step closer to completing their degree and giving back to their community. The endowment, which produces most of those scholarship dollars, was at a record-high $92.2 million as of June 30, 2021.

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