Sept. 25, 2023
Anonymous VCU alum donates $2.5 million to help students study abroad
The new L & L Friendship Fund, which supports students with financial need, will offer 21 scholarships this year.
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Starting this year, Virginia Commonwealth University students looking to study abroad have a new scholarship that can help make their dreams a reality. The L & L Friendship Fund has been established through an approximately $2.5 million gift from an anonymous donor.
“This is the largest gift for funding study abroad that VCU has ever received,” said Jill E. Blondin, Ph.D., associate vice provost for global initiatives in VCU’s Global Education Office. “I cannot overstate the importance of the L & L Friendship Fund in helping VCU students. It's extraordinary.”
The game-changing gift for global learning at VCU will help students who may not have been able to study abroad otherwise.
“We are incredibly grateful for this generous gift and the potentially life-changing opportunities it creates for VCU students,” said Fotis Sotiropoulos, Ph.D., provost and senior vice president for academic affairs. “Students who engage with transformative learning opportunities emerge often seeing themselves, the world, and the challenges they work to solve differently. That’s especially true for those who experience the chance to study abroad. The L & L Friendship Fund will enable more of our students to pursue their academic journey across the globe and we couldn’t be more excited for those possibilities.”
The donation from a VCU alum and family was spurred by their personal study abroad experience, and the gift aims to support students with demonstrated financial need pursue world-broadening experiences through the GEO.
“I've loved that the concept at VCU of study abroad is for everyone because everyone can be a great global citizen,” said Laura Edge Kottkamp, executive director of the College of Engineering Foundation, the School of Business Foundation and the VCU Foundation, who worked with the donor to establish the L & L Friendship Fund.
Kottkamp said the process began with a call from an unknown number. It was an attorney representing the donor, and that conversation sparked the yearlong process of establishing the fund.
The money was given as a full gift rather than as a pledge, meaning students will be able to benefit immediately. For the 2023-24 year, there will be 21 awards of $2,000 available to students selected by GEO. The money can be used for expenses associated with educational experiences abroad on a GEO-approved credit-bearing program.
“This gift is truly significant not only in its size but also in the potential of its impact for many years to come,” said Stephanie Tignor, director of global learning at VCU. “The inspiring generosity of this anonymous alum and their family will increase access to education abroad for VCU students which will result in greater diversity among our participants. The gift will ultimately provide unparalleled opportunities for students to gain invaluable skills that will shape the rest of their lives and careers. It is a true testament to the transformative power of study abroad experiences.”
Kottkamp said that since this gift is an endowment, money will be regenerated perpetually, ensuring that countless other students will benefit in years to come.
She noted that the gift is an example of how impactful studying abroad can be.
“I think that's the wonder of travel that I don't know how old this person is,” Kottkamp said of the anonymous donor. “I don't know where they are in their life cycle, but that travel abroad still resonates with that donor every day. And they wanted that experience to be had by other folks.”
To find out more about studying abroad and scholarship opportunities, visit global.vcu.edu/abroad/
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