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Two $1M gifts boost UD Sinclair Academy

The University of Dayton will offer new scholarships and support to students in the UD Sinclair Academy with two major gifts — $1.25 million from a local couple who wish to remain anonymous and $1 million from Bloomberg Philanthropies and the Judy and Fred Wilpon Family Foundation.

“The UD Sinclair Academy helps talented students who have limited incomes consider a UD degree as an option,” said President Eric F. Spina. “These students transform our campus for the better — as leaders of thriving student groups such as the Asian American Association, research fellows, and volunteers working to improve the common good. As graduates, they meet critical needs in our local workforce and uplift our region. The generous contributions to the Academy will help even more students, especially those who are the first in their families to pursue a four-year degree, achieve the education that will change their lives and improve our community.”

Through the $1 million grant from the prestigious Bloomberg and Wilpon foundations, the University will become part of the Kessler Scholars Collaborative and create the UD Sinclair Academy Kessler Scholars program for first-generation college students.

Kessler Scholars receive financial aid; personalized services such as mentoring, resume review and graduate school prep; an orientation program to build a network of support; stipends for expenses that contribute to student success, including travel to internships, graduate school entrance exam fees, study abroad and more; and other benefits and programming designed to foster academic, professional and personal growth. The first cohort of 20 students will enroll in fall 2023. 

The $1.25 million gift from the couple that wishes to remain anonymous will support Academy services and fund scholarships for Academy students with financial need.

“Importantly, these two gifts are mutually reinforcing for the UD Sinclair Academy and speak to both the local impact and the national leadership position we have assumed,” said Spina, who also is a steering committee member for the American Talent Initiative, a collaboration of top-performing colleges and universities working to enroll and graduate more students with lower incomes. “They help us sustain and expand this important program to improve access for students.

“Evidence shows that when lower-income students attend high-graduation colleges like the University of Dayton, they are more likely to graduate, and their lifetime earnings potential and opportunities increase as well,” he added. “So this work and these gifts are incredibly important.”

Through the Academy, students are enrolled at both Sinclair and the University from day one and are included in both campus communities. They begin their studies at Sinclair, one of the largest and most respected community colleges in the country, and earn a UD bachelor’s degree. The Academy supports their success in many ways: with nearly 100 clear degree pathways so students know exactly which classes to take; academic advisors on both campuses; transparent four-year financial information upfront; and success professionals at UD who help with any questions. Students also can join UD clubs and activities while taking classes at Sinclair and study at the library, work out at UD’s RecPlex, participate in the marching band, and more.

“The UD Sinclair Academy has made so many of my dreams come true all the while being affordable for someone who pays for college themselves,” said English major Emily Kylin, who will graduate in December. “I had always wanted to do an exchange program, and the Academy made that possible. I was able to partake in the Chaminade program in Hawaii, which was one of the best experiences of my life. I am always suggesting the Academy to anyone thinking about going to college out of high school or potentially going back to school.” 

The partnership with Sinclair serves as a national model for how private institutions and community colleges can support students holistically. UD will share best practices with nine other schools selected for a Kessler Scholars grant through the American Talent Initiative. The Kessler schools — which include Brown University, University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill, Washington University in St. Louis and others — will meet regularly to share the ways the scholars are succeeding and participate in collaboration-wide student engagement and networking opportunities. 

More information will be released about the Kessler program and scholarship in the months ahead.


News and Communications Staff