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President's Blog: From the Heart

Chris and Mandee Jones '98

Helping Future Flyers Soar

By Eric F. Spina

Chris and Mandee Jones ’98 met their first day on campus and struck up a friendship. Well, more than a friendship. They became soulmates and, eventually, spouses.

When I first encountered the Cleveland couple, I was struck by their gratitude for their UD education, their humility — and their genuine care for their alma mater’s future. On this campus, they discovered more than their love for each other. They discovered their passions, grew in faith, and felt a true sense of belonging.

The parents of four daughters, they believe every talented young person should have the opportunity to pursue that same life-changing experience they found at UD. That’s why they’ve made a $2 million commitment to support Flyer Promise Scholars, which puts a UD education in reach for academically talented students from underserved backgrounds. 

Access and affordability are our highest priorities in the $400 million “We Soar” Campaign, and the Jones family realizes investing in scholarships, particularly for those who may be the first in the family to pursue a degree, is a tangible way to help future Flyers discover their calling and soar.

The University attracted a record $67.4 million in new commitments last fiscal year because of supporters like Chris and Mandee. They weren’t the only ones to step forward and step up as we set our sights high. Nearly 400 took on new volunteer roles, such as mentoring students or serving on advisory councils or the campaign cabinet. Another 1,748 joined the Front Porch Society for the first time, marking three years of consecutive giving at any level.

As we strive to top the “We Soar” campaign’s ambitious goals, we are engaging more supporters at greater levels of involvement than ever before — and they’re encouraging others to invest in students by providing greater access to scholarships, academic innovations and meaningful hands-on learning experiences.

Chris and Mandee speak from the heart about their gifts of money and time.

“We both have a passion for mentoring and helping others. We got a lot of help along the way when we were students here, and we’re paying that back,” says Chris, co-founder and managing partner at Align Capital Partners.

As a student, he helped manage a $100,000 portfolio and now returns to campus to share his expertise with finance students, who have seen those funds grow into largest student-run investment portfolio in the nation.

“We really love the idea of helping other kids, especially first-generation students, access this amazing UD education because we know what an impact it can have in their lives personally and how it can put them on a completely different trajectory in life,” says Mandee, who started her career as a social worker. “Having the opportunity to come to college and be able to afford it is immeasurable.”

Immeasurable — and life-changing.

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