California State University, Long Beach
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20 Years Of Women & Philanthropy

Published: September 18, 2017

When the Women and Philanthropy (W&P) program at CSULB was created 20 years ago, the hopes were high and possibilities limitless.

The goal of the group was to raise money specifically to support re-entry students, those who, for whatever reason, decided it was time to go back to school and finish that degree.

“It is an honor to work with such generous and dedicated Women and Philanthropy members,” said Jackie O’Day, CSULB’s liaison to Women and Philanthropy. “Their collective efforts have helped more than 200 CSULB students reach their dream of a completed college degree. In addition to their philanthropic support, they go the extra mile by mentoring, individually supporting and building meaningful relationships with the recipients. Women and Philanthropy is always welcoming new members that will expand the number of students supported.”

Clearly, there was, and continues, to be a need.

To date, the program has awarded nearly $430,000 in scholarships since 1999, giving out $54,500 this last school year. In all, 211 individuals have received scholarships.

“Some of the stories are heartbreaking and we are amazed at the difficulties these people have overcome to continue their education,” said Lea Lowe, the current executive committee chair, noting some of those difficulties include drug use, incarceration, divorce, homelessness, spousal abuse and mental health issues. “We are hopeful that our past recipients will join us in supporting other re-entry students once they have established themselves in the workforce. We also award smaller research and performance scholarships to help students do presentations at scientific and artistic conferences.”

One of the many grateful for the scholarship support is Matthew Franczyk, who is majoring in construction engineering management and anticipates graduating from CSULB in Spring 2019.

Franczyk, who has dealt with dyslexia his entire life, said once he arrived at CSULB he was, finally, properly diagnosed.

“I just thought that I was just different,” he said. “Now that I know it is just a learning disability there is a solution to my problem.”

As a 42-year-old male returning to school, Franczyk acknowledged it was difficult to ask for help, but he took the chance and asked Women and Philanthropy.

“I thought it was a long shot,” he admitted, “but they picked me to help. They saw something in me that was special and by receiving this scholarship I feel special.”

His long-term goal is to teach, his way of giving back to the community the way the Women and Philanthropy program has given to him.

“I feel that I can do this,” he added. “I can graduate. I will graduate. I have to graduate. What better way to give to the community than to teach.

“I feel that there are kind and loving people in this world who want to help,” he added. “Sometimes you’ve just got to know how to ask. I can’t thank the Women and Philanthropy program enough.”

Venetta Campbell, a lecturer in CSULB’s School of Social Work and a W&P member, has been impressed by the program’s unwavering commitment to student scholarships in research and professional development.

“As an educator, it is particularly gratifying to serve as a member of the Women in Philanthropy Foundation,” said Campbell. “The organization aligns with my passion for higher education access and advocacy development. The foundation’s 20-year milestone is a testament to its excellence and dedication to service.”

The organization is open to faculty, staff, alumni, friends of the university and community partners. For more information, visit the Women and Philanthropy website and learn how to become a member today.

On Thursday, Oct. 19, Women and Philanthropy will hold its fall reception from 6-8 p.m. at the Old Ranch Country Club in Seal Beach. For those interested in attending, contact Jackie O’Day by email or call 562-985-2800.