$1 million gift challenges alumni to 'Start It Now'

UNIVERSITY PARK, PA. -- Penn State graduates who have not yet made a gift to the University in 2012-13 can now double the impact of their support through “Start It Now: The Million-Dollar Challenge.” For every dollar committed by these alumni between March 1 and June 30, 2013, a dollar will be directed to a scholarship for students with financial need, up to a total of $1 million. The University-wide fundraising effort is fueled by a bequest from the late John Bill Freeman, a 1963 Penn State graduate.

“Mr. Freeman felt that his life had been transformed by his experience at Penn State, and now his legacy is challenging other alumni to transform the lives of new generations of Penn Staters,” said Rodney P. Kirsch, senior vice president for development and alumni relations. “No matter where supporters choose to direct their gifts, the Start It Now challenge will help to keep our opportunities within reach for students from every economic background.”

To secure the match, a gift must be the first commitment from a donor in the fiscal year that began on July 1, 2012, and it must be received between March 1 and June 30, 2013. Alumni can target their support to any college, campus or program at the University. Freeman’s matching funds will create an endowment that will provide support for financially challenged undergraduate scholarships in perpetuity. More information about the challenge is available at StartItNow.psu.edu.

John Bill Freeman was a native of Tyler, Texas, who earned his degree in computer science from Penn State in 1963. He went on to become one of the world’s top competitive chess players and a leading theorist of outer space applications for computer science. His career included posts at McDonald Douglas and Honeywell International, and he was involved in the Mars Rover mission. He died in 2011.

Gifts to “Start It Now: The Million-Dollar Challenge” will help Penn State to achieve the goals of For the Future: The Campaign for Penn State Students. This University-wide effort is directed toward a shared vision of Penn State as the most comprehensive, student-centered research university in America.

The University is engaging Penn State’s alumni and friends as partners in achieving six key objectives: ensuring student access and opportunity, enhancing honors education, enriching the student experience, building faculty strength and capacity, fostering discovery and creativity, and sustaining the University’s tradition of quality. The campaign’s top priority is keeping a Penn State degree affordable for students and families.

The For the Future campaign is the most ambitious effort of its kind in Penn State’s history, with the goal of securing $2 billion by 2014.

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Last Updated June 19, 2013